Oklahoma football: Let the Playoff debate begin…OU or Ohio State?

MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 23: Marquise Brown #5 of the Oklahoma Sooners catches and runs for a 45 yard touchdown against the West Virginia Mountaineers on November 23, 2018 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
MORGANTOWN, WV - NOVEMBER 23: Marquise Brown #5 of the Oklahoma Sooners catches and runs for a 45 yard touchdown against the West Virginia Mountaineers on November 23, 2018 at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown, West Virginia. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images) /

After the weekend’s top-10 shakeup in the College Football Playoff rankings, the narrative is about to change, and Oklahoma football smack dab in the center of the conversation.

The Sooners battled to another high-scoring victory in a Big 12 offensive blitzkrieg at West Virginia in which it didn’t really matter who was the first team to 50. For the 11th time in 12 games, Oklahoma’s virtually unstoppable offense was able to put up more points than the disturbingly high number the Sooners yield to their opponents.

This time, it took 59 points for the Sooners to squeeze out a three-point victory over the 13th-ranked Mountaineers. The win sends Oklahoma to the Big 12 Championship next weekend, where a rematch with Texas awaits and a chance to capture a fourth consecutive conference crown. Moreover, the Sooners chances of making a return trip to the College Football Playoff greatly improved with Ohio State’s complete dismantling of No. 4 Michigan.

While everyone in the Sooner Nation was cheering for Ohio State to pull off the upset of its hated border rival, no one in their wildest dreams expected it to be the extreme blowout that it was.

Now Sooner fans have something entirely different to wish for regarding the Buckeyes: Hoping Ohio State’s 23-point demolition of what was supposed to be the country’s No. 1 defensive team was not enough of a statement to influence the CFP selection committee to vault Ohio State above Oklahoma when the penultimate Playoff rankings are released on Tuesday.

Ohio State was at No. 10 when last week’s Playoff rankings came out; Oklahoma was sitting at No. 6, right behind No. 5 Georgia. Michigan’s loss will almost assuredly move Georgia to No. 4, with a much-anticipated showdown looming with No. 1 Alabama in the SEC Championship game on Saturday.

With Alabama expected to be favored over Georgia, the team sitting in the No, 5 spot will have a prime opportunity to slip into the final Playoff spot on Selection Sunday, assuming of course, Clemson wins the ACC championship, as expected, and the No. 5 seed takes care of business in its conference championship.

We’ll have to wait until Tuesday to see which team the selection committee ultimately puts at the Playoff doorstep at No. 5. Logically, you would think that everyone would move up a spot after Michigan’s loss, which would move the Sooners up one to the five spot. The No. 7 and No. 8 teams, LSU and Washington State, respectively, also lost over the weekend, paving the way for Ohio State’s return to Playoff contention.

Oklahoma Sooners Football
Oklahoma Sooners Football /

Oklahoma Sooners Football

Chances are, the Buckeyes would have jumped LSU and Washington State, anyway, but what do you do with undefeated Central Florida, which broke into the top 10 last week, at No. 9, and handily defeated South Florida on Friday, despite losing their starting quarterback with a season-ending knee injury? That may be a controversy to some, but come on, there is no way that the Buckeyes aren’t going to move ahead of UCF on their way up this week’s rankings.

That brings us back to the burning question du jour: Who is most deserving of No. 5 heading into Championship Week in college football?

Oklahoma bears the benefit and the burden of having the country’s best offensive team and one of the nation’s worst when it comes to playing defense. The Sooners are a real threat to score on every possession. But, conversely, whoever they play turns into an offensive juggernaut against the seemingly defenseless Sooners.

In six of its nine conference games, Oklahoma scored 50 or more points. It’s a good thing because the Sooners gave up at least 40 points in five of their last seven games and four of the last six since Mike Stoops was fired as defensive coordinator.

Both Oklahoma and Ohio State have 11-1 records to this point. Ohio State’s offense is very good, but not as good as OU’s, but the Buckeye defense is measurably better than the Sooners’, despite giving up 51 points to a 5-7 Maryland team.

Oklahoma’s only loss of the season was by three points, on a neutral field, to Texas, which is 9-3 and ranked 14th in the latest CFP rankings. Ohio State’s loss was by 29 points, on the road, to unranked 6-6 Purdue.

Breaking down the schedules of the two team, each has three wins against Power Five opponents with winning records, including a pair of victories over teams ranked in the CFP Top 25.

So, there you have it. There are ups and downs associated with both teams, and both are iconic brands in the college football universe.

If OU is able to exact revenge by beating Texas in the Big 12 Championship and does not earn a spot in the College Football Playoff, there will be one and only one reason: dreadful defense.

Before we get too carried away with this hypothetical debate about who will be in and out when it comes time to declare the final seedings for the 2018 College Football Playoff, let’s not forget there are games still to be played before the final tally is in.

For this debate anything more than a hypothetical exercise, however, both OU and OSU must win for a 12th time this season in their respective conference championships. Ohio State’s path would seem to be a little easier than the Sooners. The Buckeyes will take on No. 19 Northwestern in Indianapolis, while Oklahoma and Texas meet for the second time in the 2018 season at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

The one thing that weighs in the Sooners’ favor looking ahead to next weekend, aside from sporting the nation’s most prolific offense and averaging 50 points a game, is how familiar Oklahoma is with Texas, having played the Longhorns already this season, and how extremely difficult it is to beat a good team twice in the same season.

The Sooners are hoping for the inside track and a No. 5 ranking, complemented by a 12th Big 12 championship. It will require more than simply win and your in, though. The CFP selection committee will be very interested in how Oklahoma wins, especially if Ohio State follows suit.

Next. The Sooners' defense must improve greatly and fast. dark

If all this comes about, next Sunday should be the scene of a real public relations and media frenzy, not to mention a real nail-biter for the teams involved.