Oklahoma Football Finishes Year Where It Started, No. 3

End the season with 10 consecutive wins and good things are bound to happen. That’s precisely the position the Oklahoma football team found itself in when the final college football rankings came out on Tuesday.

Nov 19, 2016; Morgantown, WV, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Samaje Perine (32) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

Nov 19, 2016; Morgantown, WV, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Samaje Perine (32) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown during the second quarter against the West Virginia Mountaineers at Milan Puskar Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The Sooners, who exerted their offensive will in an impressive Sugar Bowl victory over Auburn, the No. 2 team to Alabama this season in the SEC, moved up four positions to No. 3 in the final Coaches Poll for the 2016 college football season.

Oklahoma did not get quite a much love from the media, but still moved up a couple of spots, to No. 5, in the final Associated Press Top 25.

The irony of all this is that the Sooners began the 2016 season as the No. 3 team in the country in both major polls. After two losses in its first three games, however, OU fell completely out of the top 25 in both major polls.

From the beginning of October through the first weekend in December, the Sooners began a string of nine consecutive regular-season victories, culminating in xx-xx win in Bedlam over Oklahoma State and a second straight Big 12 championship. Over that two-month period, Bob Stoops’ guys slowly worked their way back up in the polls, breaking back into the top 10 in the final two weeks of the regular season.

The win over a ranked Oklahoma State team earned the Sooners the No. 7 ranking in the final College Football Playoff standings and a spot in the Sugar Bowl, one of the coveted New Year’s Six Bowls, where they were matched up against then-No. 14 Auburn.

The rest, as they say, is history. Oklahoma finds itself back in the top five in one poll and right where it started back in late August in the other. After the humbling loss at home to Ohio State, many experts had written off the Sooners as national title contenders, but no one bothered to tell the OU players or coaches that – and even if they did, I doubt they would have gotten anyone to listen.

It’s true that the two early season losses to Houston and Ohio State were what kept Oklahoma out of college football’s Final Four, but it is all true that no team finished the season with a hotter hand than the Sooners.

Alabama’s stunning last-second loss to Clemson in the national championship game on Monday night snapped a nation-best 26-game winning streak for the Crimson Tide. The new team with the longest active winning streak is Oklahoma with 10 consecutive victories. The Ohio State loss on Sept. 17 was the last time the Sooners lost a football game in 2016.

A long hard road back to top five, without question. But the way the Sooners finished it all off, it was probably worth it.

Now the question becomes: Where will Baker Mayfield and his teammates be ranked to begin the 2017 season? Recent history would indicate OU might be better off starting out a little under the radar rather than having the spotlight shined on the Sooners too brightly too early.

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