College Football
It's time for No. 6 Oklahoma to make its big move
College Football

It's time for No. 6 Oklahoma to make its big move

Published Oct. 25, 2023 9:57 a.m. ET

If No. 6 Oklahoma expects to show itself to be a College Football Playoff contender, now is the time to leave no doubt.

I know that at 5-2, Kansas is good. I just don't know how good.


It's the kind of team that will rush for 399 yards and put up 51 on a Central Florida team that gave Oklahoma fits.


KU running backs Devin Neal and Daniel Hishaw can tote that barge, lift that bale. Those men can carry the mail. The two have combined to rush for damn near 1,100 yards (1,096) at the damn nice number of 6.9 yards per clip, with 12 TDs thrown in.

It's also the kind of team that can be explosive through the air — six Jayhawks have caught a pass of 44 yards or longer. And remember that most of this damage has been done without star quarterback Jalon Daniels.

If Daniels is able to play for the first time in a month, he'll be a problem. And if Jason Bean is your second-string bigun, you've got depth like the Mariana Trench at the quarterback position.

Bean threw for 410 yards a week after KU rushed for damn near four Benjamins — but lost 39-32 to an Oklahoma State team that only started playing its best ball three weeks ago. Don't get fooled by the Jayhawks going 1-2 with Bean as their starter — that other loss they endured came against Texas.

The lesson over the last two weeks, though, is that KU offensive coordinator Andy Kotelnicki is gonna figure out your weakness and beat you to death with it.

So what's Oklahoma's weakness? In recent years, it's been an inability to get through October without a loss.

That's a feat the Sooners have accomplished just twice since 2004 — the last time was 2021, when they came out of October clean and then took pop-knots on the head at Baylor and at Oklahoma State.

Days after that, Lincoln Riley hit the road like he'd changed his last name to Joad.

Another concern? Oklahoma's defense, which felt dominant just three weeks ago, has now given up 527 yards and 30 points to Texas, and 398 yards and 29 points to Central Florida.

No. 6 Oklahoma survives test vs. UCF

This means OU has given up 20 or more in each of its last three games. Central Florida also was the first game all year in which Oklahoma didn't create a turnover. It's still a defense giving up just 16.1 points per game, however.

That's hard to overlook when OU is second-best in the sport in turnover margin, with 15 created to just three lost. But that's been paired with an offense that is carrying its share of the workload, too. Oklahoma is second in the Big 12 both in yards per game at 496.9 — just behind UCF at 499.6 — and in points per game at 43.1.

That's a full touchdown and extra point ahead of Kansas, which averages 35.7. But that extra point has been about all OU has been able to count on from kicker Zach Schmit during the last two outings.

He missed kicks of 38 and 43 yards against the Golden Knights and is just 9-for-13 this season. This is despite being perfect in his career when kicking extra points.

In a Big 12 that seems to have started playing its best ball of the season, those field goal attempts will prove critical for OU if the Sooners hope to earn an invitation to the College Football Playoff for the fifth time since its inception in 2014.

And since we're here in the Big 12, allow me to raise the alarm on Oklahoma State to a high pitch, because the Cowboys have another one of these game-wrecking tailbacks who might be the best one since Chuba Hubbard. Ollie Gordon II has rushed for 121 against Iowa State, 136 against Kansas State, 168 against Kansas and 282 against West Virginia. The Pokes are 5-2 and riding a three-game win streak.

Bedlam is in 11 days.

So if Oklahoma can succeed in not putting Conestoga ahead of Boomer and Sooner with the last Bedlam game for the foreseeable future on the schedule, they're still gonna face two outstanding tailbacks at KU before the best one over the last four weeks at OSU.

The Sooners might have to win another closely fought, ugly game. But that's the name of the game we play in the Power 5 at this point in the season — survive and advance.

But a convincing win here probably doesn't put Oklahoma inside that top four. Most voters not named me think No. 4 Florida State is great. I simply think FSU is good.

How good? Good like FSU in 2014 — good enough to run through the regular season undefeated and then get rocked when it's time to play national title caliber teams.

The Noles are a three-TD favorite against Wake Forest, and the Sooners are favored by 9.5 in Lawrence, Kansas. And if both Oklahoma and FSU come out of this weekend unscathed, I expect the CFP selection committee to follow the herd and rank the Noles No. 4 at their initial ranking next Tuesday, and the Sooners as low as No. 6.

All four Oklahoma teams that have made the CFP didn't start ranked inside the top four. Florida State is liable to start in the dunked-on spot — No. 4 in the initial top 25.

Don't mind Oklahoma.

RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and the host of the podcast "The Number One College Football Show." Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Young and subscribe to "The RJ Young Show" on YouTube.

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