It’s 2016, and nothing makes sense any more.
Left is right. Up is down. The Cavaliers are NBA champions. The Cubs won the World Series. Donald Trump, best known for killing the USFL and firing people on a reality TV show, is about to become the president of the United States.
If we’ve learned anything this year, it’s that no one knows what they’re talking about and anything can happen. So can a two-loss team—like, say, Oklahoma—make the College Football Playoff?
I ask only because, despite widespread belief to the contrary, there are a handful of pundits out there who can’t seem to let the theory die. Sure, they use words like “improbable” and “unlikely,” but not impossible. And as we’ve learned lately, that means that an Oklahoma playoff berth is not not possible.
So what would it take?
Well Sooners fans, I have to say—there is a path that puts OU in the Playoff, but it’s even more far-fetched than the end of a 108-year-old curse or the systemic failure of the American polling system. It involves multiple losses from rock-solid teams with easy-peasy schedules, and a lot of benefit of the doubt. But hey, it could happen I guess.
I’m not going to throw out ridiculous ideas like, say, Alabama losing to Chattanooga next weekend. It wouldn’t take that much.
Staying on the Crimson Tide, though, they’d probably have to lose two of their last four games, including the SEC Championship Game, to miss the CFP. I seriously doubt Mississippi State has it in them to knock off a top-5 team two weeks in a row, but an Iron Bowl loss isn’t out of the question. If the Tide went on to lose to a team like Florida in the championship, their Playoff hopes would be basically kaput.
More likely, though, a ‘Bama Iron Bowl loss would simply pole-vault Auburn into the CFP discussion. Auburn also has two losses, but—along with two-loss Wisconin, A&M and Penn State--currently sits ahead of OU in the standings. Auburn would have to lay an egg at Georgia this weekend to fall behind OU in the pecking order.
Clemson’s remaining schedule is Pitt, Wake Forest and South Carolina. Hypothetically they could lose any of those, but all would be huge upsets. They’d have to lose the ACC Championship Game, too, to match OU’s loss total.
I’d be pretty shocked if Michigan or Ohio State didn’t win the Big 10. One of those two teams is probably a lock, and the other is still likely to finish ahead of the Sooners. There just aren’t any other upset alerts remaining on their schedules, though Michigan’s Iowa game this weekend may be as close as it gets. Maybe a blowout Big 10 Championship Game loss from tOSU would be enough.
Washington is vulnerable, though. The committee has proven that it doesn’t respect UW’s strength of schedule, and the Huskies have tough Pac-12 matchups ahead of the title game. They could lose to USC, Washington State or both—and I think OU would finish ahead of a two-loss Washington.
That leaves Louisville and their Heisman-caliber quarterback Lamar Jackson, currently sitting at No. 6. Their final two games are against Houston and Kentucky, teams they should roll over—though, as OU discovered, Houston is dangerous when it rises to the occasion. Even Louisville has a steep path to the playoff as long as Clemson refuses to lose, but OU has an even steeper one to get past them.
So yeah, Sooners fans. It would take a pretty big meltdown from at least four teams currently ranked ahead of it, plus some gigantic victory margins to separate from other two-loss teams, to put OU in the Playoff. Call me naive, but I don’t think even 2016 can do that for us. Most pundits agree.
I still think a Big 12 title is a worthy consolation prize, even if the league’s relevance and quality are in decline. #SoonerSquad17 will give OU a great chance to make Playoffs for years to come. Just not this one.
But who knows? If Coastal Carolina can win the College World Series, and Frank Ocean can release an album, and three teams can blow 3-1 series leads, and Kim Kardashian-West can outsmart Taylor Swift, and Leonardo DiCaprio can win an Oscar, and Britain can leave the E.U.—then maybe the Sooners can make the Playoff.