A closer look

The Oklahoman - - SPORTS - BY RYAN ABER AND BROOKE PRYOR Staff Writ­ers

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:

Ok­la­homa Soon­ers

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.

Ge­or­gia Bull­dogs

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.

Clem­son Tigers

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.

Mi­ami Hur­ri­canes

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.

Auburn Tigers

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.

Wis­con­sin Badgers

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.

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