A closer look
Oklahoman writers Brooke Pryor and Ryan Aber take a look at OU and the other College Football Playoff contenders.
With two weeks remaining in the regular season and a likely conference championship game remaining, Oklahoma is in the thick of the College Football Playoff chase. The Rose Bowl and Sugar Bowl will host the CFP semifinals this season, on Jan. 1. Here’s a look at each of the primary contenders:
It hasn’t always been pretty but the Sooners have managed to win tight games consistently, with one exception. Oklahoma’s offense has been probably the nation’s best, though its defense has struggled.
Record: 9-1, 6-1 Big 12 Biggest wins: at Ohio State, 31-16; at Oklahoma State, 62-52; TCU, 38-20 Loss: Iowa State, 38-31 Best offensive player: QB Baker Mayfield was the most efficient quarterback in college football history a year ago and he’s blowing that mark away this season, rolling toward the Heisman Trophy.
Best defensive player: DE Ogbonnia Okoronkwo has eight sacks and eight more tackles for loss and has forced three fumbles.
Alabama Crimson Tide
The Crimson Tide made a statement with a 24-7 season-opening win over Florida State, though the impressiveness of that crumbled with the Seminoles season. Signature wins have proved hard to come by, as the Tide’s schedule hasn’t been as tough as expected. They’ve beaten two ranked teams lately and Auburn looms. Record: 10-0, 7-0 SEC Biggest wins: LSU, 24-10; Mississippi State, 31-24. Loss: None.
Best offensive player: QB Jalen Hurts has been strong in his sophomore season, completing nearly 60 percent of his passes and throwing for 11 touchdowns and just one interception while running for 772 yards and eight scores.
Best defensive player: Minkah Fitzpatrick plays a little bit everywhere in the secondary for the Crimson Tide, but wherever he is, Fitzpatrick is a force with 44 tackles and interception and six pass breakups.
The Bulldogs lost their quarterback, Jacob Eason, early in the year, but freshman Jake Fromm has stepped in and been mostly fantastic, lifting Georgia to No. 1 before last week’s loss.
Record: 9-1, 6-1 Big 12 Biggest wins: Notre Dame, 20-19; Mississippi State, 31-3
Loss: at Auburn, 40-17 Best offensive player: RB Nick Chubb has been a big reason Georgia’s offense was able to get its feet back after Eason’s injury, running for 894 yards and 10 touchdowns.
Best defensive player: LB Roquan Smith has 24 more tackles than any of his teammates, with 82 stops — 49 solo — plus 2.5 sacks, 10 quarterback hurries and a forced fumble.
No Deshaun Watson? No problem for this year’s Clemson team. The Tigers put together an impressive resume — including a big nonconference win against Auburn — with the leadership of new starting quarterback Kelly Bryant. Record: 9-1, 7-1 ACC Biggest wins: Auburn, 14-6; at Virginia Tech, 31-17; at N.C. State, 38-31 Loss: at Syracuse, 27-24 Best offensive player: Quarterback Kelly Bryant had big shoes to fill in the wake of Deshaun Watson’s graduation, but he’s flourished with 1,924 passing yards, 608 rushing yards, and 17 total touchdowns.
Best defensive player: Linebacker Dorian O’Daniel does a little bit of everything for the Tigers, racking up a team-high 85 tackles, including five sacks, and he is credited with three pass breakups and five quarterback pressures.
The swagger is back in Coral Gables with Miami marching into the last weeks of the regular season undefeated. The Hurricanes got a huge boost against Notre Dame, breaking out the turnover chain for three Fighting Irish interceptions.
Record: 9-0, 6-0 ACC Biggest wins: Virginia Tech, 28-10; Notre Dame, 41-8 Loss: None.
Best offensive player: With 24 total touchdowns, quarterback Malik Rosier is the Hurricanes’ top threat. He’s been inconsistent at times, but with top running back Mark Walton sidelined for the season, Rosier is even more important.
Best defensive player: Safety Jaquan Johnson is an anchor in the secondary, and he has three interceptions and four pass breakups.
The Tigers have hung around the top of the college football rankings all year, but they became true contenders with last week’s win against thenNo. 1 Georgia. Defensively, Auburn’s stout defensive line has grown up throughout the season, and firstyear transfer quarterback Jarrett Stidham is settling into his role.
Record: 8-2, 6-1 SEC
Best wins: Mississippi State, 49-10; Georgia, 40-17
Losses: at Clemson, 14-6; at LSU 27-23
Best offensive player: Running back Kerryon Johnson ran all over Georgia in Saturday’s win, gaining 167 yards in the victory. With fellow running back Kamryn Pettway out for an extended time, Johnson’s role is crucial.
Best defensive player: Sophomore DL Marlon Davidson is playing as good as any with three sacks, one pass breakup, three quarterback hurries and one forced fumble.
Yes, the Badgers are undefeated. But Wisconsin’s strength of schedule is No. 63, according to Sagarin rankings. Wisconsin is in a good position to make the playoff, but it will have to win out to get there. Record: 10-0, 7-0 Big Ten Best win: Iowa, 38-14 Losses:None.
Best offensive player: Averaging 152.50 yards per game, freshman RB Jonathan Taylor has exploded in his rookie season. He has 1,525 yards and 12 touchdowns this year.
Best defensive player: Junior LB T.J. Edwards leads the team with four interceptions and five pass breakups.
Alabama quarterback Jalen Hurts has thrown just one interception this year.
The Sooners are in the thick of the College Football Playoff hunt, and quarterback Baker Mayfield is a big reason why.