In a classic example of a college football “first world problem,” I’ve heard from numerous Sooner Nation citizens in the last couple weeks who are actually rooting against Oklahoma scoring a second consecutive bid to the College Football Playoff. With Alabama likely awaiting the No. 4 team in Atlanta on Dec. 31 in the Peach Bowl, they would prefer not to risk another offseason listening to jabs about the Sooners getting bullied on a big stage.
They’re not wrong about the likelihood of OU getting blasted by the Crimson Tide. I reckon that goes for about 97 percent of the teams in the country. Clemson, Ohio State and USC look to me like they might - might - have a puncher’s chance at the moment, but the list ends there.
Even so, that’s a lily-livered reason for begging out of a title shot – no matter how little of a shot it might be. Sure, the Sooners could strut a bit for the next nine months with a win in a bowl game against a lesser opponent. So what? Losers take solace in that kind of stuff. You play to win the game and whatnot.
That being said, I also admit that I’d have a hard time stumping for OU to gain entry to the final four.
The 18th edition of Bob Stoops’ Sooners are a pretty good team. Despite the deterioration of the defense, the strength of the O gives me enough confidence that I’d favor them over all but about five or six squads out there.
They also score well enough on the "achievement" scale. The Sooners have strung together some solid wins in going undefeated in Big 12 play to this point. They have an opportunity to put one more skin on the wall when Oklahoma State comes to town in the final weekend of the season, and a Bedlam victory is far from a given.
However, even if I did believe that OU is as good as any team in the country, you could still find some gaping holes in its resume.
The Sooners have been far from a dominant team against conference foes, despite what their record says. Three of their eight in-conference victories so far came by seven points or fewer. We’re not exactly talking about a vintage version of the Big 12, either.
More importantly, it’s damn near impossible to Febreze the stank from two early-season losses out of that crimson and cream coaches polo.
OU undoubtedly showed some stones in scheduling a home-and-home series with Ohio State. The Sooners also drew a tough out to kick off the season in Houston. (Truthfully, that team couldn’t have been what athletic director Joe Castiglione envisioned when OU signed on to play the Cougars in their own backyard.)
Aggressive scheduling like that fits with OU’s reputation. As a fan, I wouldn’t have it any other way. So we can all agree that scheduling tough games is a good thing.
But better than that? Not getting drilled at home by three touchdowns. And even better than that? Winning those games.
If the Sooners beat OSU in a couple weeks, you could probably make a sound enough argument for their inclusion in this year's College Football Playoff. Citing selection criteria and precedent, it would probably be just as good as the handful of teams jockeying for the final spot(s) in the tournament. Should that come to pass, Bob Stoops won't have much problem pleading his case.
It would be great if OU made it. Personally, though, I just can't see myself getting too worked up over a snub. Maybe another year.
(Another Big 12 championship would still be a hell of a consolation prize.)