The College Football Playoff field is set and the fourth-seeded Sooners are out to win their eighth national championship in program history. To do so they'll have to go through Clemson and the winner of the Michigan State/Alabama game. Oklahoma is no stranger to big stages, but winning the big one has been a problem for Bob Stoops since his lone national championship in 2000. The 2003, 2004, and 2008 teams were very capable of winning it all but fell short in the BCS National Championship game. Now, not only do you have to beat #1 Clemson, you have to beat the #3 or #4 team as well. But if any Bob Stoops team can win two big games in a row it's this team. The Sooners have actually won three big games in a row already and are one of the hottest teams in the country. But to keep up the momentum, certain players are going to have to step up. Here's five players that I believe will be the difference makers heading into the College Football Playoff.
QB Baker Mayfield - Did you really expect him not to be on here? He's the reason Oklahoma has 11 wins this year and is putting on one of the best individual seasons we have ever seen from a quarterback at Oklahoma. He has 35 TD's to just five interceptions and seven rushing touchdowns. His comeback against Tennessee was spectacular and his performance against Baylor sparked the program. No quarterback from a power five conference has better numbers than he does, so if Oklahoma wants to win it all starts with Mayfield. If he can limit mistakes the same way he has all season and keep making big plays with his arm and legs, then Oklahoma has a great shot at an eighth national championship. Oklahoma's big time quarterbacks have struggled in championship games under Stoops, but Mayfield fits so well in this offense it will be a tall task for any defense to shut him down.
Against Clemson, many are expecting a shootout. If Mayfield can make less turnovers than Watson and still produce scoring drives than Oklahoma should do well against a Clemson defense that allowed 32 points to South Carolina and 37 against North Carolina in their past two games.
K Austin Seibert - Obviously the quarterback was on this list. But you probably weren't expecting a kicker. Well Austin Seibert is making the cut on this list for a couple of reasons. Number one, because with just two games left at the most on the Sooners schedule, the true freshman kicker will be playing with a lot of pressure. Also, after starting off the season perfect on his first 10 attempts, he's missed a field goal in five of the last six games.
He's still made 7/12 in that span, but the Sooners probably won't be able to afford any missed field goals against the Clemson Tigers. Especially if it's as close as the spread says it will be, then a field goal could either make or break their national championship hopes.
CB Zach Sanchez - The Sooners cornerback has struggled at times this season, but he remains the Sooner's leader in interceptions for the second year in a row. He's fifth in the country in interceptions this year and doesn't get thrown to a whole lot. However, the Sooners cornerback has a nack for getting beat deep. I wouldn't be surprised if he allowed a couple of big plays to happen but finishes with an interception in the Orange Bowl against a very talented quarterback. Look for Sanchez to play a lot better in the Playoff than he did against Oklahoma State.
In a likely high scoring game with Clemson, Sanchez will be picked on at times and he'll have to make big plays just as he's done many times in his past three seasons.
OT Orlando Brown - The talented Sooners offensive linemen has improved a lot as the season has gone on. He had a lot of penalties in the beginning of the season but he's cleaned up a lot of that. In a huge atmosphere like the Orange Bowl, he'll have to make sure to stay away from any costly penalties. Especially if the Sooners beat Clemson and have to play one of those run-stopping defense, then Oklahoma will have to rely a lot on the youth of their offensive line.
The lineman played well against TCU, Baylor, and Oklahoma State, but Alabama is a different monster with their front seven. Then again I'm not sure Alabama has seen many 6'8", 342-pound linemen like Brown either.
RB Samaje Perine - Perine is just a true sophomore believe it or not, and is still learning. Of course, he's had tons of playing time and experience but he (and the rest of the Sooners team) has never played in a stage this big before. He was held to 134 yards on 23 carries in the bowl game last year, but didn't get into the endzone. It wasn't his fault that the Sooners got throttled in last year's game against Clemson but he didn't control that game like he's controlled many others since then.
He'll be a huge factor in both the semifinal and the national championship if the Sooners beat Clemson. Against Alabama, he'll go up against the best front seven in the country. If the offensive line holds their own and Perine can be effective the whole game than there is no reason why the Sooners can't win against the Crimson Tide.