Oklahoma football: Latest USA Today projection has Sooners bowling in Texas

Before Bob Stoops arrived as head coach in 1999, the Oklahoma football program had not been to a postseason bowl game in the previous four seasons.

Since the 1999 season, the Sooners have appeared in a bowl for 23 consecutive seasons. That string is in jeopardy of being snapped. With five games remaining in the regular season, Oklahoma needs at least two more wins to become bowl eligible for the 2022 season.

Six wins does not guarantee that Oklahoma will receive a bowl berth, but with the Big 12 being as competitive as it is this season and because of the bowl agreements the conference has in place, six wins should be enough for OU to receive a bowl invitation.

Two more conference wins would leave the Sooners with a 3-6 record in the Big 12 and likely a sixth of seventh-place finish in the conference standings.

The college football staffs at USA Today and ESPN are betting that the Sooners will take care of business over the final five games and keep their bowl streak alive.

USA Today’s latest projection has the Big 12 sending seven teams to bowl games this season and has Oklahoma going to the TaxAct Texas Bowl in Houston. That bowl assignment would go to the fourth or fifth best team in the Big 12 depending on whether the Big 12 places a team in the College Football Playoff.

ESPN’s Kyle Bonagura lastest bowl projection has the Sooners playing in the Liberty Bowl (fourth or fifth best team in the Big 12). His colleague at ESPN, Mark Schlaback, projects Oklahoma to go to the Lockheed Martin Armed Services Bowl (seventh or eighth best team in the Big 12).

The way the Big 12 bowl selection process works, if the conference champion is one of the top four teams in the College Football Playoff final standings and seven Big 12 teams are bowl eligible, the sixth- and seventh-place teams would appear in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Dec. 28 in Memphis) and Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Dec. 27 in Phoenix), respectively.

If the Big 12 champion does not go to the College Football Playoff, however, it would earn a spot in the Sugar Bowl against the second or third best team from the SEC. In this scenario, the sixth- and seventh-best Big 12 teams, assuming at least a .500 overall record, would qualify for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl and the Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 22 in Ft. Worth).