Hey there, 2015 Oklahoma. Have you met 2014 Ohio State? You’re just like them.
The first College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled Tuesday night on ESPN. There was Clemson at No. 1, LSU at No. 2, Ohio State at No. 3, Alabama (controversially) at No. 4 and, all the way down at No. 15, Oklahoma.
">November 4, 2015
To make this year’s playoff, the Sooners (7-1) will have to jump 11 teams, three of which – No. 6 Baylor, No. 8 TCU and No. 14 Oklahoma State – are in their conference, the Big 12. It’s improbable - highly unlikely, even.
They can do it, though. And Bob Stoops’ squad just has to look at last year’s national champion, Urban Meyer’s Buckeyes, as their guiding star.
The similarities are there.
- Ohio State was ranked No. 16 in the inaugural College Football Playoff rankings last year; Oklahoma, as mentioned earlier, is sitting at No. 15.
- The Buckeyes had a bad loss – home against Virginia Tech; the Sooners have a bad loss - on a neutral field against a dismal Texas team.
- Both losses can kind of be explained, though – Ohio State’s loss came in J.T. Barrett’s second-career start; Oklahoma’s loss came in one of the most-heated rivalries in the sport.
- The Buckeyes’ schedule the rest of the way in 2014 provided for some quality wins - at No. 8 Michigan State, at No. 25 Minnesota, Indiana, Michigan, No. 13 Wisconsin in the Big Ten Championship Game; the Sooners’ schedule the rest of the way provides for some very good quality wins – Iowa State, at No. 6 Baylor, No. 8 TCU, at No. 14 Oklahoma State.
The similarities don't end there, either.
On the field, Ohio State was led by an efficient passer, Barrett, who doubled as a running threat, and an elite sophomore running back in Ezekiel Elliott; Oklahoma’s led by junior Baker Mayfield, who’s completing 70 percent of his passes and has four rushing TDs, and sophomore running back Samaje Perine. The Buckeyes had a big-time deep threat in Devin Smith; the Sooners have one in Sterling Shephard. Ohio State’s offense thrived in the last month of the season; Oklahoma’s looks like it can.
">October 31, 2015
Now, Ohio State had an advantage Oklahoma doesn't: a conference championship game. Last year, one-loss Big 12 teams - TCU and Baylor - were left out of the playoff in favor of OSU, which was able to impress the committee on the final day of the season with a massacre of Wisconsin. Oklahoma won’t get that chance, as the Big 12 is without a league title game. The Pac-12 has no undefeated teams, though. And due to the strength of the league, a one-loss Big 12 champion will probably have the edge over a one-loss Pac 12 champ.
I think that Big 12 champ can be Oklahoma.
If a team is going to do what Ohio State did last year – rising from No. 15 or lower into the College Football Playoff – my bet’s on that team being the Sooners.