Oklahoma lost to Kansas State in a game they were dominated in until they made it close in the fourth quarter to make the 48-41 final score look a little bit closer.
The loss was a stunning one for the Sooners who haven’t been tested all year but is this a season-ending loss that derails their national title hopes? As Lee Corso would say, not so fast my friend.
Sure, losing is never a good thing, but it’s not a death sentence when it comes to their College Football Playoff hopes. It may sound weird, but the way they came back in the fourth quarter when they were down 48-23 isn’t the type of unforgivable loss that the playoff committee can’t overlook. That’s what happened to Ohio State when they lost to Purdue 49-20 last year. Ohio State couldn’t make up for that blemish no matter what they did the rest of the season.
Oklahoma has time to begin to rehab their playoff resume. They’ll need to run the table the rest of the way to have a chance, but they do have a chance. ESPN’s playoff predictor gives the Sooners a 17 percent chance to make the field after the loss to Kansas State.
Oklahoma has to beat an undefeated Baylor to qualify as their last best signature win. Then, they’ll need to either win a rematch vs. Baylor or Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game to have their best possible resume.
They can control all of those things but what they can’t control could be what ultimately keeps the Sooners out of the playoff for the first time in three years.
If the SEC, Big Ten and ACC champions are all undefeated, that leaves one spot open for Oklahoma to get in ahead of the other one-loss teams who didn’t win their conference.
This is where it gets difficult for Oklahoma.
A one-loss Alabama or LSU who doesn’t win the SEC is likely to get in over a one-loss Big 12 champion Oklahoma. The strength of schedule in the SEC is just far more difficult than the Big 12. Even with Alabama’s soft non-conference schedule, as long as they only lose to LSU and keeps it relatively close, you know the committee is going to take Alabama every single time.
If Penn State goes undefeated and a one-loss Ohio State is left on the outside looking in, it could be the Buckeyes who are ahead of the Sooners too.
For Oklahoma to have a better feeling about their playoff odds, they better start rooting for chaos in the SEC and Big Ten. If LSU, Alabama, Auburn and Georgia and Florida start beating up on each other, there’s room for them to move up. If Penn State blows out Ohio State and if Michigan can find a way to beat Ohio State, there’s a chance for Oklahoma to move back up.
Clemson has struggled to look like Clemson all year but even in a weak ACC, the Sooners need the Tigers to get tripped up and lose to someone. Will it happen? I wouldn’t bank on it.
But then again, crazy stuff happens every Saturday in college football. Take this loss to Kansas State for the latest example. Last week, it was Wisconsin losing at Illinois in the biggest upset of the year.
Who knows what next week could have in store?
But for Oklahoma football fans hoping to make it three years in a row in the College Football Playoff, they better start hoping for chaos otherwise their playoff streak just came to an end vs. Kansas State.