Oklahoma football: Chaos boosts Sooners after nearly burying them

WACO, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 16: Delarrin Turner-Yell #32 of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts against the Baylor Bears in the second half at McLane Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
WACO, TEXAS - NOVEMBER 16: Delarrin Turner-Yell #32 of the Oklahoma Sooners reacts against the Baylor Bears in the second half at McLane Stadium on November 16, 2019 in Waco, Texas. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images) /

That late-season chaos that everyone talks about in the upper tiers of college football is slowly taking form again in 2019. As a result, the path for an Oklahoma football appearance in the College Football Playoff is much clearer than was the case just a few short weeks ago.

With a couple more weeks before all the talking stops and the final Playoff rankings for the 2019 season come out, Oklahoma is slowly moving itself up into position as a viable final-four contender. The Sooners are up to No. 7 in the rankings, advancing three spots in the last few weeks, courtesy of what college football aficionados like to call chaos, the creation of teams ahead falling victim to upsets.

Not only did Oklahoma move up one more spot in the fourth installment of the CFP rankings for this season, but so also did Baylor, advancing five spots, to No. 9 from 14th. By moving Baylor forward five spots this week, the CFP selection committee appears to be sending the message that it now respects the Bears’ accomplishments this season and the Big 12 more than it did just a few weeks ago.

Baylor, one of seven undefeated teams when the season’s first Playoff rankings were released on Oct. 29, started out at No. 12, then dropped to No. 13 the following week after then-undefeated Minnesota upset Penn State. After the loss to Oklahoma, the Bears dropped back one more spot, to No. 14.

The fact the Sooners beat Baylor, handing the Bears their only loss of the season, and the Bears have now moved into the top 10. will be an important consideration in Oklahoma’s Playoff argument if the Sooners can get by Baylor a second time in the Big 12 Championship.

Here’s why Oklahoma’s Playoff argument is beginning to pick up a lot of steam: The Sooners (10-1) already have a win this season over No. 23 Iowa State, and if they can get by No. 21 Oklahoma State in their annual rivalry game on Saturday OU will have three top-25 wins, with the opportunity to add a fourth in the Big 12 title game.

On top of that, Oklahoma’s seven-point loss to Kansas State, at one point a top-25 team, could be considered a quality loss.

That part of the equation lines up nicely for the Crimson and Cream, but it’s all dependent, of course, on the Sooners’ winning out. And even then, they will still require additional chaos affecting the teams immediately above them in the rankings.

The ray of hope for fans of the Sooners is there is a clearer path for that happening than was the case just a week ago. The biggest stumbling block previously was having two Pac 12 teams, No. 6 Oregon and No. 7 Utah, ranked ahead of Oklahoma. One of those one-loss teams would lose to the other in the Pac-12 Championship, but the winner would likely remain ahead of the Sooners.

Oklahoma Sooners
Oklahoma Sooners /

Oklahoma Sooners

Oregon’s surprise loss last weekend to Arizona State now leaves just Utah from the Pac-12 ahead of No. 7 Oklahoma. An Oregon win over the Utes in the Pac 12 title game would potentially remove that obstacle.

Assuming the aforementioned Pac 12 shake up, No. 4 Georgia and No. 5 Alabama, and potentially a Pac 12 champion Utah, would be the remaining obstacles to Oklahoma’s chances of securing the fourth and final berth in this year’s College Football Playoff.

Georgia must beat LSU in the SEC Championship to make the Playoff, and Alabama still must beat Auburn on Saturday, which shouldn’t be enough because the Crimson Tide will not be a conference champion and are without quarterback Tua Tagovailoa for the rest of the season.

So, there you have it. That’s the yellow brick road — filled with land mines, for sure, and with no control over the ultimate outcome — that Oklahoma must travel, and with absolutely zero margin for error — just to make things difficult for the committee on Selection Sunday.

Even with the chaos that has already occurred, a lot of things are still going to have to go right between now and Dec. 8 if the Sooners are going to make a third consecutive trip to the College Playoff.

“Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth,” as the popular saying goes, but I personally would rather see Oklahoma miss the Playoff but go to the Sugar Bowl, as the Big 12 champion, and be paired with either Alabama or Georgia.

I know Sooner fans don’t want to hear this, but to be perfectly candid, the Sooners would not match up well against Ohio State, LSU or Clemson, and I don’t think anyone wants to watch them go one-and-done for a third straight year.

The more interesting pairing would be to see Jalen Hurts go up against his former team, albeit without Tua, or even the opportunity to avenge the 2017 Playoff loss to Georgia.

For any of this to become a reality, however, Oklahoma must win its next two games, beginning with a win at Oklahoma State on Saturday.