Oklahoma football: What does the weekend chaos mean for OU?

Oct 12, 2019; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners fans hold up the number one prior to the game against the Texas Longhorns at Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 12, 2019; Dallas, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners fans hold up the number one prior to the game against the Texas Longhorns at Cotton Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports /

For the first time this season, there was no Oklahoma football game to celebrate or criticize this past weekend.

Related Story. Breaking down 4th quarter of the Sooners' 2021 schedule. light

That means the Sooners didn’t reach double digits in the win column, but they also didn’t suffer their first loss. Despite the non-change in Oklahoma’s situation, the Sooners should benefit in the second College Football Playoff rankings on Tuesday night.

Oklahoma remained at No. 4 in the latest Associated Press and Coaches polls, but should advance at least one position, from No. 8 to No. 7, in this week’s CFP rankings as a result of Michigan State’s loss on Saturday to unranked Purdue. The Spartans dropped from the unbeaten ranks after placing third in the initial CFP rankings of the 2021 season a week ago.

Although there was some chaos in the form of top-25 upsets behind involving teams behind OU in the CFP rankings over the weekend, there should not be any major movement for the Sooners this week.

815. FOX. 11 AM CT. 860. Sooners -5.0. 9-0. Saturday, Nov. 13. 7-2

But things are sure to change for OU in the weeks to come, either upward or downward, depending on the outcome of the Sooners’ next three games (and a fourth game, of course, if Oklahoma makes it into the Big 12 Championship game).

The real 2021 season for Oklahoma, in terms of the Sooners’ championship run, begins this weekend at Baylor. That game is followed by a home game versus Iowa State on Nov. 20, and the Sooners will close out the regular season with their annual in-state rivalry game with Oklahoma State.

The three OU opponents are a combined 21-6 (.778) this season, underscoring the daunting task ahead of Oklahoma over the next three weeks.

According to NCAA stats, Oklahoma has the third most difficult schedule to close out the season. Only Georgia Tech and Ohio State, whose final three opponents have a current winning percentage of .815 (22-5) have a more difficult closing trio of games than the Sooners.

If Oklahoma is able to make a clean sweep, winning all three of its November games — which it should be noted the Sooners have done every season since 2015 — it would automatically advance to the Big 12 Championship game, most likely against Oklahoma State if the Cowboys only remaining loss is to the Sooners.

An Oklahoma win over Baylor this Saturday and Iowa State at home the following weekend would give those two teams three conference losses and effectively eliminate them from conference championship consideration unless OSU were to lose to either TCU or Texas Tech.

Are you still with me?

Here’s where it can get really interesting. Say the Sooners take care of business against Baylor and Iowa State, and Oklahoma State slips up against either TCU or at Tech before hosting OU in Bedlam. If that were to happen, Baylor and ISU would already have three conference losses.

Assuming the loss to OU would be the only loss for Baylor and Iowa State in the remaining three games for both, Oklahoma State (6-2 in Big 12 games) would have to defeat OU, something the Cowboys haven’t done in their last six meetings with the Sooners, to guarantee a spot in the Big 12 Championship and a rematch with OU the following week in Arlington, Texas.

All other things remaining equal, however, were OSU to lose tp the Sooners, it could create a three-way tie for second place between the Cowboys, Baylor and Iowa State, each with a 6-3 conference record. Given that outcome, the spot opposite Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship would be determined by a four-part tiebreaker formula based on head-to-head outcomes as well as the record against other teams in the conference.

Suffice to say, it gets real messy at that point. If Oklahoma wins two of its final three games, no matter which combination that is, the Sooners are guaranteed a spot in the Big 12 Championship against one of those three other teams. As far as making a return trip to the College Football Playoff, however, OU would have to win the conference championship game, thus ending the season with just one loss and a conference title, to have any chance of that.

If the Sooners were to lose all three of its remaining games, or even two of the three, they probably will not play for the conference championship, and could end up in the Valero Alamo Bowl, the third tier down in the Big 12 bowl pecking order.

There is actually a scenario in which all four teams could end up with identical 7-2 records (OU losses to Baylor and Iowa State, but defeats Oklahoma State). In that event, we will all have to wait to see how the tiebreaker formula sorts through it all.

As the 2021 season heads into the homestretch with four Big 12 teams vying for the top spot, Sooner fans will be heartened to know that ESPN’s College Football Power Index gives Oklahoma an 84 percent chance to make the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma State is next at 75 percent.

We could be looking at back-to-back Bedlam — Bedlam I on Nov. 27 and Bedlam II on Dec. 4 — for all the Big 12 marbles and a potential spot in the College Football Playoff.

For the next three weeks, the next game will be the most important one on the remaining Oklahoma schedule.