The Oklahoma Sooners are back representing the Big 12 in the College Football Playoff picture after beating TCU and Oklahoma State in the last two weeks, two teams currently ranked in the poll’s top 13.
If Oklahoma wins the rest of its games, the Sooners are most likely in the CFP. But while the Sooners are in a pretty good spot, the Big 12 still lags behind other conferences in terms of committee perception.
The Sooners have unequivocally the best group of wins in all of college football. Oklahoma beat No. 9 Ohio State, No. 12 TCU and No. 13 Oklahoma State. Two of those wins – against the Cowboys and Buckeyes – came on the road. However, the Sooners have a curious Achilles heel.
“It’s the loss to a 4-loss Iowa State that has them ranked where they are,” CFP committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said.
Of course, that logic doesn’t take into account that Clemson lost to 6-loss Syracuse team. Luckily, Hocutt had a bizarre answer for that too: quarterback Kelly Bryant’s injury.
“Their quarterback came into the game against Syracuse hobbled and looked he was playing with an injured ankle,” Hocutt said. “When he was concussed in the second quarter. He came back and appeared healthy and at full strength.”
Hocutt did not mention whether Oklahoma losing CeeDee Lamb, Abdul Adams, Steven Parker and Du’Vonta Lampkin over the course of the one-score loss to Iowa State was relevant. He also didn’t mention whether the Sooners’ massive injury issues in the secondary will be taken into account into defensive metrics. Somehow, it seems doubtful.
The perception issue doesn’t just affect the Sooners. The committee ranked TCU No. 12 in the College Football Playoff rankings, behind USC and Penn State. When asked about that curious fact, Hocutt had another slew of odd excuses.
Hocutt pointed to USC’s injury issues earlier this season.
“Southern California is getting healthy,” Hocutt said. “They’ve had significant injuries this year that as they have gotten those players back on the field, they are playing at an extremely high level.”
For the record, since getting eviscerated 49-14 by Notre Dame, USC has wins over Arizona, Arizona State and Colorado. None of those teams are close to being ranked in the College Football Playoff rankings. Combined, they have a 17-14 record.
For Penn State, he pointed to quality losses against Michigan State and Ohio State. The Nittany Lions’ best win is against No. 24 Michigan.
“This is a very good Penn State football team, with their only two losses being by a combination of four points to Ohio State and Michigan State,” Hocutt said. “Two good football teams on top of TCU right now.”
The positioning behind Penn State and USC – and so far behind Ohio State – means TCU is completely out of the playoff race. Even if TCU beats Oklahoma, it’s almost impossible to see the Horned Frogs jumping all those teams.
Big 12 teams continue to appear at a disadvantage relative to the rest of college football in the CFP committee’s viewpoint. The conference had better hope Oklahoma goes and wins the national championship, or the apparent disadvantage will continue.