Oklahoma football: Where do Sooners' Playoff teams rank in the CFP era?

Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The final college football game of the season takes place tonight at NRG Stadium in Houston, and the winner will walk off as national champion. It also will be the final game in the decade-long, four-team College Football Playoff format, a time in which the Oklahoma football program has been an active participant.

In the 10 years that the College Football Playoff has been in existence, 15 different schools have appeared in at least one Playoff final-four year. Oklahoma has made four playoff appearances, third most of all but three other teams: Alabama (8), Clemson (6) and Ohio State (5). Of the six teams with at least three playoff appearances, the Sooners (0-4) are the only team not to win a playoff game and one of just two teams in that group not to win a national title in the playoff era.

Surprisingly, given the college football dominance of the Georgia Bulldogs in recent years, the Sooners have more playoff appearances than the reigning back-to-back national champions.

The staff at College Football News has undertaken the task of ranking all 40 teams that have made an appearance in the College Football Playoff, including both Michigan and Washington who are playing for the national championship this season.

Of Oklahoma's four playoff teams (2015, 2017, 2018 and 2019), it probably won't surprise anyone who is a fan of Oklahoma football that the 2017 OU team with Baker Mayfield, et. al, is the highest ranked of the Sooner playoff teams. That Oklahoma team ranked No. 21 among the 40 playoff teams to date.

The 2017 Sooner team was seeded No. 2 in the playoff rankings and faced No, 3 George in one of the national semifinal games. OU and its high-scoring offense jumped out in front early and at one point in the second quarter owned a 34-14 advantage. Georgia rebounded in the second half and scored a late touchdown to tie the game and send it into overtime. It took two overtimes, but Georgia ultimately came out the winner, 54-48, in a game considered one of the best in the playoff era.

The 2015 Oklahoma team, also quarterbacked by Mayfield, didn't pack nearly the offensive firepower of the 2017 Sooner team. OU's only loss that season, entering the CFP as the No. 4 seed, was to Texas. The Sooners fell to No. 1 Clemson 37-17 in the opening round. That Oklahoma team was No. 27 in the CFN rankings.

Heisman winner Kyler Murray quarterbacked the 2018 Oklahoma team against Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa and No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff that year. The Crimson Tide raced out to a 28-0 lead before the Sooners were able to get on the scoreboard. The Sooners trailed 31-10 at halftime and fought back to withing 11 points twice in the second half before losing 45-34 to the eventual national champions. The 2018 OU playoff team ranked 33rd out of the 40 playoff teams, according to the CFN assessment.

Jalen Hurts was at the quarterback helm for the 2019 OU team that was matched up with Joe Burrow and No. 1 LSU, which went on to win the national championship and is considered by many to be one of the greatest college teams of all-time. The Sooners were buried in that game, 63-28, in one of the biggest blowouts in the 10-year history of the College Football Playoff. That Oklahoma playoff team ranked 35th out of 40.

Beginning with the 2024 season, the College Football Playoff format will expand to 12 teams. Although the number of playoff teams will increase, it is going to be increasingly difficult for the Sooners to make the playoff field as a member of the highly competitive SEC, where virtually every week the Sooners will be paired up against a nationally ranked opponent.

But at least it can always be said that these were the 10 best Oklahoma teams in the first 10 years of the playoff era.