It all comes down to Oklahoma. The Sooners know it. Their fans know it, too.
A victory in the Big 12 championship game on Saturday punches the third-ranked Sooners’ ticket to the College Football Playoff. Lose and a season’s worth of work goes to waste.
The only topics in this week’s mailbag deal with those impending topics. Can Oklahoma handle TCU for the second time in four weeks? What’s the Sooners’ standing with the College Football Playoff Selection Committee?
Here are the questions and here are the answers.
Thomas via Facebook asks: Do you think playing TCU already helps in preparation for the rematch?
Good question, Thomas.
In one sense, it always helps to play the opponent previously. It gives a team and coaching staff a stronger understanding of personnel. Some players were better in person than expected. Others might have been worse. I don’t know if that helps Oklahoma explicitly, but it can’t hurt. The negative aspect is both teams know how the other wants to attack them. Some changes can be made because of that.
What was strange about the first meeting was how quickly it changed in the second half. The Sooners led by 24 points at halftime. They ran the most vanilla offense possible after that.
It’s a given Oklahoma and TCU entered that game with specific plus and schemes it held back for late in the game if it was close. None of that came to light in the Nov. 11 meeting in Norman.
Eddie via Facebook asks: What happens if we lose Saturday? Where do we go?
That’s a good question. Oklahoma would get an at-large bid to a New Year’s Six Bowl game. The options would be the Fiesta, Peach, Cotton or Orange Bowls. TCU would get the Big 12’s automatic bid, but there’s no guaranteed site because the Sugar Bowl and the Rose Bowls are the semifinal sites this year.
I’ve seen the Peach Bowl representatives at several Oklahoma home games this season, including the West Virginia game. I’m guessing it will grab the Sooners if they’re available. I’ve heard TCU will likely end up in the Cotton if it wins on Saturday.
The weird deal for the Big 12 is its best chance to get two teams in New Year’s Six games comes with Oklahoma losing. The Sooners are in the playoff with a win on Saturday, but I believe a three-loss TCU squad after losing to Oklahoma would be unlikely to get a CFP access bowl bid. Instead, they would likely be headed for the Valero Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.
James via Facebook asks: Why does Oklahoma get the short end of the stick every year?
I’m not sure what you mean by “every year.” I was stunned when the College Football Playoff Selection Committee jumped Auburn to No. 2, one spot ahead of the Sooners on Tuesday. A two-loss team has never reached the playoff much less been in the top two.
I remember the grumbling with Oklahoma falling from No. 3 to No. 4 in the final playoff poll in 2015. The Big 12 didn’t have a title game then. The lack of a 13th game was the rationale. Two non-conference losses removed the Sooners from the discussion in 2016.
Let’s not forget the BCS era. From 2000-08, Oklahoma got the benefit of the doubt every year when it came to reaching the national title game. Ask USC in 2003, Auburn in 2004 and Texas in 2008 whether or not the Sooners ever caught a ranking break.
Tom via Facebook asks: Passing game or rushing game? Which one will carry Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game?
Both. The one thing about the Sooners is they’re a diverse offense. They’ve taken off since the middle of October because of the offensive line and running back Rodney Anderson. The sophomore was incredible in the victory over TCU on Nov. 11.
But I would expect the Sooners to have some big plays in the passing game on Saturday. The wind is never a factor at AT&T Stadium. The elements in the Kansas game are the only thing that’s slowed Baker Mayfield as a passer this season.
If I’m guessing who Oklahoma’s offensive MVP will be, I’ll go with Mayfield. So I guess that means that I’ll take the passing game.
Duane via Facebook asks: How bad is TCU going to go after our secondary and can we survive it?
I believe the Sooners’ secondary is playing better than it has all season. Adding cornerbacks Tre Norwood and Tre Brown to the mix elevated the secondary competition. Also, defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said safety Kahlil Haughton is healthy again. The secondary depth is as good as it’s been all season.
When these teams met on Nov. 11, the Horned Frogs threw for 269 yards. Oklahoma’s defense was the key to the victory. TCU didn’t have a drive that lasted longer than eight plays in that game.
I would worry more about Oklahoma’s front seven in this one. It struggled to stop the run against West Virginia. If TCU is running the ball effectively, that’s a much bigger problem for the Sooners.
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