Can Oklahoma make the college football playoffs this season?
Probably not due to early losses to No. 2 Ohio State and No. 11 Houston. But it is not impossible, especially since the No. 16 Sooners have shown steady improvement.
ESPN.com projects Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Clemson as the four playoff teams with Washington, Texas A&M, Louisville and Baylor waiting in the wings.
In order for OU to have a chance, the following probably would have to happen:
- OU would have to win their remaining six games and go 9-0 in the Big 12. That would make the Sooners the champions of the one of the Power Five Conferences. This would mean victories over currently undefeated No. 9 Baylor (in Norman) and No. 12 West Virginia (in Morgantown).
OU has a tough road game Saturday at Texas Tech but has already beaten Texas and TCU on the road. The Bedlam game with Oklahoma State is in Norman.
- OU would have to jump past 12 teams in the rankings to get to No. 4.
- In the SEC, No. 1 Alabama and No. 6 Texas A&M (who play each other Saturday) are the only undefeated teams. No. 15 Florida is 5-1 but all other SEC teams have two losses.
- In the ACC, No. 4 Clemson is undefeated and No. 7 Louisville is 5-1. Every other team has two losses. Louisville plays No. 11 Houston from the American Athletic Conference on November 17.
- In the Big Ten, No. 2 Ohio State, No. 3 Michigan and No. 8 Nebraska are undefeated but every other team has at least two losses. Ohio State plays Michigan on November 26 and Nebraska plays Ohio State on November 5.
- In the Pac-12, No. 5 Washington is the only undefeated team. No. 19 Utah is 6-1 but every other team has two losses. Washington plays Utah on October 29 but that is the only ranked team left on Washington’s schedule.
OU’s improbable path would seem to be for Alabama to win the SEC with Texas A&M losing to the Tide Saturday and then losing one other game. Then Ohio State would need to beat Nebraska in the regular season and in the Big Ten title game and Michigan would have to lose twice.
Clemson would have to win the ACC with Louisville losing once more. Washington would need to lose twice and Utah would have to have one more loss.
And even if all that or something similar happened, Houston could prevent the Sooners from going because of the opening game loss. Houston needs for Navy to lose two conference games for the Cougars to make the AAC title game.
OU’s chances are not good.
The most likely scenario for the Sooners is to win the next six games and go to the Sugar Bowl, probably against Texas A&M.
But none of this means much if OU can’t beat pass-happy Texas Tech at 7 p.m. Saturday. Texas Tech lost to No. 12 West Virginia 17-48 Saturday.
Red Raider quarterback Patrick Mahomes leads the nation in passing yardage with 2,579 yards in six games. He has completed 194 passes out of 272 attempts (73 percent) with 21 touchdowns and only five interceptions.
Mahomes is No. 2 in the nation in number of completions with almost 33 per game (429 yards per game).
“It is a big week and we know what type of offense they run,” said OU safety Ahmad Thomas. “But it is all about preparation, like each week is. I am looking forward to it because it gives me more opportunities to make plays on the ball which is always fun for secondary.”
Baker Mayfield returns to Texas Tech turf for the first time since his freshman season of 2013 when he was a walkon quarterback for the Red Raiders. Offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley, offensive line coach Bill Bedenbaugh and outside receivers coach Dennis Simmons all have ties to Texas Tech.
Mayfield is expecting an emotional game in his return to Lubbock.
“They will be ready for me when I get down there that’s for sure,” Mayfield said. “I’m excited for it. It’s always fun playing in Lubbock and this time I’m obviously on the other side of it. It’ll be an interesting matchup. I’ll get my guys ready and it should be a pretty good time.”
Mayfield is No. 17 in passing yardage, averaging 300 yards per game. Mayfield has hit 125 of 177 attempts for 1,803 yards with five interceptions. Mayfield is fifth in the nation in completion percentage at 70 percent. He is averaging 20 completions per game and 14 yards per completion.
In Saturday’s 38-17 win over Kansas State in Norman, Mayfiled completed 25 of his 31 passes for 346 yards and four TDs. It is the fourth time Mayfield has thrown four or more TDs in a single game as a Sooner.
“Baker’s just great,” OU coach Bob Stoops said after the win. “That’s a great day. I’m just looking at 25 out of 31 – that’s a great day against a good defense. And then, Dede’s just got that speed and polish in his route running to get open.”
Mayfield had a 25-yard touchdown pass to running back Samaje Perine and an 8-yard scoring strike to Joe Mixon. His 88-yard touchdown pass to Dede Westbrook in the fourth quarter sealed the win for the Sooners.
Westbrook had his third straight game with multiple TD receptions. Westbrook’s eight TD catches over the last three games mark a school record, passing Ryan Broyles’ seven scores over three games in 2009 (BYU, Idaho State, Tulsa).
“He’s separated himself,” said OU offensive coordinator Lincoln Riley. “He’s doing a lot for us – similar to what (Sterling Shepherd) did for us last year but in a different way. When Dede gets one-on-one, he can win the battle down the field. That’s’ been important for us against teams trying to load up and stop our run game.”
Westbrook finished with 184 yards on Saturday, bringing his total over the last three games to 574, a school record (previous was 500 yards, Ryan Broyles in 2010 – Iowa State, Missouri, Colorado).
“Dede was, again, exceptional,” Stoops said. “He’s got incredible speed and quickness, and he’s a great route runner with that suddenness, and sure-handed. In fact, I can’t believe he dropped the one, though it wasn’t easy. The wind kind of did make him turn around on that one that he was open. Dede was great.”
Mixon had 88 rushing yards on a career-high 19 carries. His passing TD in the second quarter on a 26-yard toss to Dede Westbrook was the first time a Sooner running back threw a TD since Oct. 13, 1973 (Joe Washington to Tinker Owens, 40 yards vs. Texas in first quarter) and OU’s first TD pass from a non-quarterback since 2014.