Oklahoma football: No one is better bouncing back from a loss than the Sooners

NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 01: Members of the Oklahoma Sooners spirit squad perform during the game against the Houston Cougars at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 1, 2019 in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Cougars 49-31. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images)
NORMAN, OK - SEPTEMBER 01: Members of the Oklahoma Sooners spirit squad perform during the game against the Houston Cougars at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium on September 1, 2019 in Norman, Oklahoma. The Sooners defeated the Cougars 49-31. (Photo by Brett Deering/Getty Images) /

The hopes and dreams of Oklahoma football for the 2019 season sprung a leak this past weekend. What transpires from here depends on the ability of the coaches and players to make the necessary repairs.

While Oklahoma’s chances of making the College Football Playoff took a significant tumble after Saturday’s stunning loss to previously unranked Kansas State, one loss does not mathematically eliminate the Sooners. More than one, however, most definitely will.

What the Sooners must be mindful of now is not to allow the effects of that one loss turn into two, or allow the flaws that were exposed in Saturday’s performance to become the road map for the remaining opponents on the schedule.

Lincoln Riley said it himself in addressing the team after the game in the locker room. “Everyone out there is gonna say we’re done,” he told reporters, like Jenni Carlson of The (Oklahoma City) Oklahoman, in his postgame interview comments, adding that his message to the team was: “There’s everything out there left for us, and we know that. We can’t listen to all the noise.”

Bouncing back from a loss is something Oklahoma knows quite a bit about, having done it with regularity throughout the Bob Stoops coaching era as well as under Riley. After suffering a single loss in three of the last four seasons, the Sooners responded by running the table in their remaining regular-season schedule.

November has been a special month for Oklahoma football since Riley joined the Sooner coaching staff prior to the 2015 season. The Sooners have not lost a game in the all-important month of November since 2014.

The last time Oklahoma lost back-to-back regular-season game was 20 years ago, in 1999, in Stoops’ first season at OU.

The first College Football Playoff rankings for 2019 will be announced next Tuesday night. While up until last weekend, it looked pretty solid that the Sooners’ would be holding down a top-five position, it’s  still a fairly good bet Oklahoma will be in the top 10 and within striking distance if further chaos ensures among the teams ahead of the Sooners in the coming weeks.

The big difference being that a week ago Oklahoma was in control of its destiny, while now the Sooners are totally dependent on what other teams do to make the Playoff, even if OU wins out from here.

“There’s everything out there left for us… We can’t listen to all the noise.” — OU head coach Lincoln Riley after the K-State loss

First and foremost, the Sooners must win their next five games, which includes the Big 12 Championship, and wait to see what happens elsewhere.

Over the last three weeks, three teams considered at the start of the season to be legitimate national championship contenders — Georgia, Oklahoma and Notre Dame — have all lost, and we are likely to see further shakeups at the top of the rankings over the next several weeks.

The marquee game of the college football season, No. 1 LSU against No. 2 Alabama, has everyone’s attention. That game will take place in Tuscaloosa on Nov. 30, and shapes up to be an epic finale on the final weekend of the college football regular season.

We could have some more potential chaos as soon as this weekend, though, when No. 6 Florida takes on No. 8 Georgia in their annual rivalry battle royal in Jacksonville, Florida. And then three weeks after that, it will be a battle of two more top-10, and potentially unbeaten, teams when No, 5 Penn State goes up against No. 3 Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio.

The outcome of all of those games could have an impact on Oklahoma’s postseason plans.

Putting the Sooners Playoff chances aside for a moment, there is still much out there to play for, including an unprecedented fourth consecutive Big 12 championship. Win the Big 12 and Oklahoma will be headed to New Orleans and the New Year’s Six Sugar Bowl and a matchup with the SEC’s second- or third-best team, depending on how many SEC teams make it into the College Football Playoff.

Here’s something to think about: If LSU is able to defeat Alabama in their showdown late next month, it could likely be Oklahoma and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl and a classic confrontation between Bama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and former Crimson Tide QB Jalen Hurts. That game would also be a rematch of last year’s Playoff national semifinal contest, won by Alabama 45-34.

Based on OU’s performance against Kansas State, the Sooners still have a lot of work to do before they can even begin to think about a conference championship.

Right now, Oklahoma is going to have to win at both Baylor and Oklahoma State to punch its ticket to Dallas and the Big 12 title game. And that assumes the Sooners are able to take care of business in their two remaining home games, against Iowa State and TCU.

Baylor is probably playing the best football in the Big 12 right now. The Sooners not only will have to beat Baylor on its home field, but probably a second time less than a month later if they are to remain conference champions and earn a premium postseason assignment.

The stakes are high over the next six weeks. As far as Oklahoma is concerned, now with a blemish in the loss column, every game the rest of the way becomes the most important one.