Oklahoma football faces an uphill climb to make the College Football Playoff but a decisive win over undefeated Baylor would make an unignorable statement.
Oklahoma started the season 7-0 but haven’t done a lot to strengthen their case to make the College Football Playoff over the past two weeks. After an upset loss on the road three weeks ago to Kansas State, they narrowly avoided a massive comeback from Iowa State. And now, Oklahoma football has dropped to No. 10 in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. Lincoln Riley’s Sooners have the opportunity to make up ground in Waco on Saturday night against the No. 13 — and still undefeated — Baylor Bears.
Despite not tasting defeat yet, facing Lincoln Riley’s Oklahoma will be by far the biggest test Baylor has seen this season. Their relatively weak schedule up to now is why they are No. 13 in the College Football Playoff rankings, three spots below the Sooners. From what we’ve seen, they are not as elite as their record would indicate.
That’s exactly what the Sooners need to prove on Saturday night at McLane Stadium as well. Not only does Oklahoma need to go on the road and hand the Bears their first loss of the 2019 season — they need to be dominant once again.
Even with their recent struggles, Jalen Hurts, CeeDee Lamb, Kennedy Brooks and the Sooners offense have been lights out under Riley’s direction. Hurts remains a shoo-in as a Heisman Trophy finalist at this point and Oklahoma is averaging 48.4 points per game.
The issues for Oklahoma this season can really be boiled down to two things. Most importantly, their defense has fallen off after seemingly showing tremendous improvement from last year’s group. Hurts and the offense have also appeared to take their foot off of the gas, particularly in the one-point win last week over Iowa State.
If the Sooners are going to have any case to make the College Football Playoff, both of those chief concerns need to be shored up at Baylor. The offense needs to execute at their top gear for 60 minutes while Kenneth Murray and the defense need to make splash plays that keep the Bears at bay.
Beating Baylor — even on the road — isn’t going to make much of a case for Oklahoma to jump up from their current No. 10 rankings. For the Sooners to make a jump into serious consideration next week and moving forward, they need to submit their most dominant effort of the season.
It’s still a long shot Oklahoma football is going to jump other current one-loss teams like Alabama, Georgia, Oregon or Utah, as well as a still-undefeated Minnesota. They’re going to need some help regardless of what happens in Waco if they are going to make the College Football Playoff.
But if the Sooners don’t go on the road in Week 12 and leave no doubt they are unequivocally superior to Baylor, they may as well write themselves off as a possible top-four team. This is Oklahoma’s opportunity to re-establish themselves because it’s their last chance.