The first College Football Playoff rankings were unveiled Tuesday night, and Oklahoma not only has work left to do but also needs other teams to tumble.
The Sooners are ranked ninth, behind five undefeated teams (Ohio State, LSU, Alabama, Penn State and Clemson) and three teams with one loss (Georgia, Oregon and Utah).
“They need some help,” ESPN analyst Kirk Herbstreit said during the rankings telecast. “Unless there’s an upset, every Power Five champion will be ahead of Oklahoma based on these rankings.”
OU is 7-1 and has four games remaining: against Iowa State on Saturday, at Baylor on Nov. 16, against TCU on Nov. 23 and at Oklahoma State on Nov. 30. The Sooners’ loss came Oct. 26 at Kansas State, which is ranked 16th.
“When we look at Oklahoma, obviously we see their nonconference wins — UCLA, Houston when Houston still had their quarterback — and then as we look (at the résumé), obviously we’ll watch the Kansas State game and the result, and what we see when we watch Oklahoma or what was discussed in the room was a very powerful offense,” College Football Playoff committee chairman Rob Mullens said in a teleconference Tuesday night.
“(Quarterback) Jalen Hurts has stepped right into coach (Lincoln) Riley’s offense, and then (they have) an improved defense.”
In the five-year history of the College Football Playoff, no one-loss OU team has finished outside the top four in the final rankings. The Sooners earned the No. 4 seed in 2015 and 2018 and the No. 2 seed in 2017.
Asked Monday whether he would watch the rankings be revealed, Riley said: “I just don’t put stock in it. Go look at where we were ranked in previous years after we lost the game. There’s so much left to happen.
“I know this: You keep winning, and you win your league championship, if you keep winning and doing the things that you can win, and play to your potential as a team, those things tend to work themselves out.”
Of OU’s remaining opponents, Oklahoma State is ranked No. 23 despite three losses, and Baylor, at 8-0 and in first place in the Big 12 standings, is No. 12.
Four teams from the American Athletic Conference, the league in which Tulsa plays, also are ranked (Cincinnati, Memphis, Navy and SMU).
A 13-member selection committee ranks the top 25 teams after each of the last seven weeks of the season, and the top four teams after conference championships advance to the College Football Playoff.
Semifinalists will meet Dec. 28 in the Fiesta Bowl (Glendale, Arizona) and the Peach Bowl (Atlanta). The national championship is Jan. 13 in New Orleans.
The top 25
1. Ohio St., 8-0
2. LSU, 8-0
3. Alabama, 8-0
4. Penn St., 8-0
5. Clemson, 9-0
6. Georgia, 7-1
7. Oregon, 8-1
8. Utah, 8-1
9. Oklahoma, 7-1
10. Florida, 7-2
11. Auburn, 7-2
12. Baylor, 8-0
13. Wisconsin, 6-2
14. Michigan, 7-2
15. Notre Dame, 6-2
16. Kansas St., 6-2
17. Minnesota, 8-0
18. Iowa, 6-2
19. Wake Forest, 7-1
20. Cincinnati, 7-1
21. Memphis, 8-1
22. Boise St., 7-1
23. Oklahoma St., 6-3
24. Navy, 7-1
25. SMU, 8-1
The playoff semifinals match the No. 1 seed vs. the No. 4 seed, and No. 2 will face No. 3. The semifinals will be hosted at the Peach Bowl and Fiesta Bowl on Dec. 28. The championship game will be played on Jan. 13, 2020 at New Orleans.