Oklahoma Football: Playoff Door Not Shut and Locked Yet

Many have written off the Big 12, and Oklahoma football in particular, from the 2016 College Football Playoff picture.

Oct 29, 2016; Norman, OK, USA; Oklahoma Sooners fullback Dimitri Flowers (36) scores a touchdown against the Kansas Jayhawks during the second quarter at Gaylord Family – Oklahoma Memorial Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

With nothing really left to play for, it’s time to start thinking about next year, right?

Maybe if you are some other team not named Oklahoma. You can be assured, though, that the Sooners are in universal agreement that everything is still out there in front of them. All they have to do is keep winning…and keep believing.

With two losses to teams that were once considered strong Playoff contenders but have since stumbled themselves, the Sooners chances of a repeat trip to college football’s Final Four admittedly have come down to a wish and a prayer, but they still have yet to take their last breath.

And as long as their still breathing, they’re still believing. Where there’s a will, as they say, there’s a way. The Sooners definitely have the will part; it’s the way that has the experts and fans seriously doubting Oklahoma’s realistic chances of sneaking into the big tent and the championship foursome.

Oklahoma’s immediate goal is to keep winning and finish out the season strong. Run the table through the remaining five regular-season games, beginning Thursday night at 1-7 Iowa State, and the Sooners will be the undisputed and outright Big 12 champions, something they have already accomplished six more times than any other team in the conference (Texas has three Big 12 titles in football).

ESPN’s Football Power Index gives OU a 22 percent chance of winning out, but projects the Sooners as a 59-percent favorite to win the conference. That means, according to the number-crunching fanatics who administer the FPI, Oklahoma can lose one of its remaining league games and still make off with the conference crown, which, in turn, would earn OU the coveted spot as the Big 12 representative in the New Year’s Six Sugar Bowl.

The latest FPI projections, which predict a team’s performance going forward through the end of the season, give Oklahoma an 89-percent chance of defeating Iowa State and close to 70 percent in upcoming home games against Baylor and Oklahoma State.

The biggest remaining hurdle, potentially, in the Sooners’ schedule is a trip to Morgantown, W. Va., on Nov. 19 to do battle with Dana Holgorsen’s West Virginia Mountaineers.

Oct 22, 2016; Lubbock, TX, USA; Oklahoma Sooners running back Joe Mixon (25) is tackled during the game against the Texas Tech Red Raiders at Jones AT&T Stadium. Oklahoma defeated Texas Tech 66-59. Mandatory Credit: Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

FPI currently gives OU a 51-percent chance to come out the winner in that game, but it also is likely the West Virginia game that has the computers believing that the Sooners, the only undefeated team currently in conference action, will not go through the Big 12 with an unblemished record.

The folks at FiveThirtyEight.com, who like to predict the outcomes of things that are of interest to many of us, this week launched a sub-site titled “2016 College Football Predictions,” in which they list every college team with a 0.1 percent chance of making the College Football Playoff. The site will be updated every week through the end of the regular season after the CFP selection committee releases its new rankings.

Oklahoma, the No. 14 team in the initial College Football Playoff rankings for 2016, is one of 22 teams that made the list this week. FiveThirtyEight presently gives the Sooners a seven-percent chance of making the Playoff this season and less than one-percent chance of winning the national title as they get ready to face Iowa State.

All of this is fun to track, but as far as Oklahoma is concerned, it’s all about: Just win, baby!

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