Oklahoma football: Could Sooners’ Playoff ranking serve as motivation?

COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Baker Mayfield
COLUMBUS, OH - SEPTEMBER 09: Baker Mayfield /

Oklahoma football is in a coveted spot right now.

Hard to imagine any team not being jubilant with a No. 3 standing in the penultimate College Football Playoff rankings for this or any season. But that may, in fact, be the case with the Sooners.

Oklahoma is one win away from making its second appearance in the four-year history of the College Football Playoff. What looked like an extreme long shot after the Sooners inexplicable second-half collapse in losing to Iowa State in the fifth game of the season now is theirs to lose.

There are those who say it doesn’t matter if you’re first, second third or fourth in the Playoff rankings. And that’s probably right. If you’re in, you’re in. You still have to win two games to win it all.

To the teams, the players and their fans, however, any discontentment over the order or seeding of the top four teams has more to do with honor and respect than anything else.

The top four teams in the next-to-last Playoff rankings of the season are the same four teams that sit atop the other two major weekly polls, but in a slightly different order.

Clemson is the consensus choice at No. 1 in the Playoff rankings as well as in the Associated Press Top 25 and the Coaches Poll for Week 14 of the college season. The Sooners are No. 2 behind Clemson in both the AP and Coaches Polls – in fact OU received almost as many first-place votes as Clemson in this week’s AP Poll – but the CFP selection committee differed with the two other polls, moving Auburn from No. 6 a week ago all the way to No. 2 this week, after the relative ease with which Auburn defeated previous No. 1 Alabama on Saturday.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Next to the Sooners, who have won seven straight since losing to Iowa State, Auburn appears to be the hottest thing going in college football right now, with victories over two former No. 1 teams in a two-week period. But Auburn has two losses, and one of those was a seven-point loss to Clemson on the opening weekend of the season.

Despite Auburn’s recent run of success, the fact that the Tigers jumped over Oklahoma and five other Playoff contenders into the second spot this week couldn’t have sat that well with the Sooners.

All of this is going to work itself out, one way or the other, this weekend, especially if Oklahoma is able to take care of business in the Big 12 Championship with TCU, a team that the Sooners have already beaten once this season, and it wasn’t that close the first time.

In a backhanded sort of way, the Playoff committee just may have handed Oklahoma an extra dose of motivation – as if the Sooners needed any with everything that is at stake in this game – to fire up their performance against TCU and punctuate their Playoff worthiness.

The feeling of disrespect can be a huge motivator in athletic competition as in life, and OU needs to be mindful that the TCU players and coaches, not to mention the Horned Frog fans, may also be feeling similar disrespect after being ranked outside of the top 10 of the Playoff rankings, at No. 11.

And we haven’t even brought up the mountain of bad blood that exists between OU and TCU and has developed over just five Big 12 games.

I can’t imagine that these two short-time rivals can be motivated for Saturday’s showdown any more than they already are. It should make for a terrific ball game.