Sooners rise to fourth in rankings
The College Football Playoff committee loves Clemson. And the Sooners can live with it.
That’s the landscape after the committee’s latest rankings elevated Clemson to No. 2, behind only Alabama, and moved OU up just one spot, to No. 4, despite a 38-20 rout of previously sixthranked TCU.
As far as the Sooners are concerned, the committee rankings have become FAO. For amusement only.
OU’s resume’, a 9-1 record and three victories over teams ranked in the top 13, two of them on the road, means the Sooners don’t have to worry about the committee. Win out, and Oklahoma is assured of a berth in the four-team playoff.
And that’s a good thing. Because the committee seems to still be holding OU’s defensive troubles
Two weeks ago, committee chairman Kirby Hocutt indicated that OU and Clemson were closely bunched. Since then, the Sooners have won at Oklahoma State and at home against TCU; both were ranked high at the time and continue to be ranked high. Meanwhile, Clemson has won at North Carolina State and at home to Florida State; the former is ranked, the latter is not. But Clemson seems to have distanced itself from the Sooners.
“I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that statement,” said Hocutt, the athletic director at Texas Tech. “Teams one through five are all close this week and comparable. I said earlier, Oklahoma with their three wins (against top-13 teams), their road wins again Ohio State and Oklahoma (State), very impressive.
“I would still say close, not sure that margin has separated.
“Lots of debate on teams one through five. Specifically on Oklahoma, we talked a lot about the Sooners. We talked a lot about their offense. It’s the loss to Iowa State that did not allow Oklahoma to rank higher this week.”
Of course, Clemson also lost, at Syracuse. The Tigers trailed the Orange when quarterback Kelly Bryant was injured and missed the rest of the game. Hocutt said Bryant seemed to be hobbled when that game started and the committee continues to factor in that injury, while OU had no such adversity while losing to Iowa State.
Hocutt said the committee was impressed with the defenses of Clemson and Miami.
“Two teams that look very similar,” Hocutt said. “Both are playing elite defense.”
Hocutt said committee member Tyrone Willingham, a former coach at Notre Dame, Stanford and Washington, “one of the most disciplined men I’ve ever been around, made the comment watching Miami playing defense makes him want to wear the turnover chain,” which the Hurricanes have popularized with their ball hawking defense.
“Very close separation between those two teams. What gave Clemson the edge over Miami was the win against Auburn.”
It’s all great debate fodder, which can infuriate and puzzle those of us who follow college football.
But the good news is: It shouldn’t matter. If the Sooners can beat Kansas this week, West Virginia next week and win the Big 12 Championship Game on Dec. 2, Oklahoma will be in the playoff.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:405:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. You can also view his personality page at newsok.com/berrytramel.
Sooners Will Johnson, 12, Steven Parker, 10, and Chance Sylvie celebrate a stop during OU’s 38-20 victory Saturday over TCU.
Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley waves to fans Saturday after OU’s 38-20 victory over TCU.