Oklahoma represents the Big 12’s best hope to make the College Football Playoff.
Based on Tuesday’s next-to-last CFP rankings, the Sooners are also the Big 12’s only hope, and they must beat No. 11 TCU in Saturday’s championship game at AT&T Stadium to make the four-team field. Otherwise, the Big 12 will miss the playoffs for the third time in four seasons.
The final rankings will be announced Sunday from Grapevine. The bowl pairings for the other “New Year’s Six” bowls will also be released, including the Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic.
Despite Alabama and Miami losing over the weekend, Oklahoma (11-1) only moved up one spot in the CFP rankings, to No. 3. Defending champion Clemson (11-1) jumped into No. 1 spot despite falling earlier this year to eight-loss Syracuse. Two-loss Auburn (10-2) vaulted into the second spot. Unbeaten Wisconsin (12-0) was fourth.
Based on the current rankings, Oklahoma almost certainly doesn’t have a big enough cushion to lose and make the field, especially with one-loss Alabama (11-1) lurking at No. 5.
Irony watch: The Sooners would pretty much be guaranteed a playoff spot if the Big 12 hadn’t brought back the title game.
Sooners coach Lincoln Riley said Monday that he didn’t plan to fixate on the rankings.
“I’m confident that if we win,” Riley told reporters, “that will take care of itself.”
TCU (10-2) was 11th and just the fifth highest-ranked two-loss team.
Even before the rankings were released, TCU coach Gary Patterson was pessimistic about his team’s chances to reach the playoff, even with a title game win.
“No, I don’t think so. In 2014, I thought we were inside the top three,” Patterson said, referencing the first playoff year where the Horned Frogs fell from No. 3 to No. 6 on the final weekend despite a big win over Iowa State.
“But this one, with the injuries and everything we have, I’m not sure that’s the case of doing what we’ve been able to do.”
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