Oklahoma got everything to go its way last week, and the Sooners’ good fortune was reflected in this week’s College Football Playoff rankings.
At the top of the to-do list, OU hung on to beat TCU 28-24.
Oklahoma also got important, resume-building victories from Oklahoma State (remained at No. 21) and Baylor (up five spots to No. 9), plus closer-than-necessary wins from Iowa State (down a spot to No. 23) and Kansas State.
And lastly, the Sooners got losses from two teams ahead of them in the standings — Oregon fell to Arizona State and Penn State fell to Ohio State.
Beating TCU kept OU in the conversation for a return to the playoff. The right combination of outcomes in the Big 12 Conference bolstered the Sooners’ body of work. And those losses from the Ducks and the Nittany Lions cleared two spots for OU to climb from No. 9 last week to No. 7 this week.
The new rankings were revealed Tuesday night on ESPN.
Now, in addition to handling their own business with a victory over No. 21 Oklahoma State in this week’s season finale and over No. 9 Baylor next week in the Big 12 Championship Game, the Sooners still need plenty of help.
A loss by No. 5 Alabama this week in the Iron Bowl against Auburn would eliminate the Crimson Tide from the conversation. And in next week’s championship games, OU needs No. 2 LSU to beat No. 4 Georgia, and No. 14 Oregon to take out No. 6 Utah.
That combination, coupled with two victories by the Sooners, would put the Sooners (10-1) back in the top four for the fourth time in five seasons.
If OU gets only partial help next week — Georgia loses to LSU but Utah beats Oregon — the No. 4 spot might come down to a beauty pageant between Oklahoma and Utah, two 12-1 conference champions who would have two tiebreakers over Alabama.
The Utes have college football’s No. 3 overall defense, No. 1 rushing defense, No. 17 passing defense and No. 4 scoring defense in the nation, while the Sooners have the No. 1 overall offense, No. 10 rushing offense, No. 11 passing offense and No. 5 scoring offense.
“When you look at Utah,” selection committee chairman Rob Mullens said on Tuesday night, “the strength of their defense, and then the experience at quarterback and running back, only loss being on the road to a 22nd-ranked USC where (running back) Zack Moss missed the majority of the game with an injury, and then Oklahoma, obviously, beat No. 9 Baylor on the road without CeeDee Lamb, they also have a victory over ranked Iowa State; only loss to a close, quality K-State team.”
Mullens said Baylor’s significant jump from No. 14 to No. 9, which seems like a course correction (the Bears fell only one spot after losing to Oklahoma last week), is actually a product of several factors.
“That’s one piece of it, right? They had a dominant win over Texas,” Mullens said. “But in addition, the wins over Iowa State and Oklahoma State continue to improve as well as those teams continue to win, and their only loss (was) close to Oklahoma, who moves up to No. 7. So all that adds in to the clean sheet.”
Formerly co-host of “Further Review” and “The Franchise Drive,” columnist John E. Hoover is a college football insider on The Franchise in Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Listen at fm107.7 in OKC, fm107.9/am1270 in Tulsa, on The Franchise app, or click the “Listen” tab on The Franchise home page. Hoover co-hosts The Franchise “Inside OU” Podcast with Brady Trantham and Rufus Alexander, and the Locked oN Sooners podcast on the Locked oN Podcast Network. He also covers the Big 12 for Sporting News and Lindy’s magazine and is a feature writer for Sooner Spectator magazine. Visit his YouTube channel at YouTube.com/c/JohnHoover, and his personal page at johnehoover.com.
College Football Playoff rankings (with last week’s rankings)