College football rankings: What Oklahoma’s loss to Baylor means for Oregon, Ohio State and more

For the first time all season, No. 8 Oklahoma felt the sting of college football chaos, losing 27-14 on the road to No. 13 Baylor. With the loss, the Big 12 has no teams remaining among the ranks of the undefeated, a significant blow to the conference’s College Football Playoff hopes.

Just another week in this topsy-turvy 2021 college football season.

The Sooners will face immediate repercussions — potentially insurmountable ones, considering how little the selection committee has thought of this team through two sets of rankings. That said, the Sooners are still squarely in contention for the Big 12 championship game and a potential berth in the playoff. But Saturday’s loss, one in which the Sooners put up a paltry 260 yards of total offense, complicates things.

The Sooners’ saving grace for a good portion of the season was their quarterback play by freshman Caleb Williams. But he completed 10 of 19 passes for 177 yards and two interceptions, adding 10 rushes for 17 yards and a score. Coach Lincoln Riley tried to create a spark by subbing in preseason starter Spencer Rattler for two series, but he fared no better in a 4-of-6 passing day for just 36 yards.

Baylor (8-2, 4-2 in Big 12 play) should enjoy a nice bump in the rankings but, as a result of its two losses to Oklahoma State and TCU, is likely already out of contention for the playoff. The same could be true of Oklahoma, depending on how the rest of the college football season plays out. It’s not outside the realm of possibility the CFP selection committee could need to drop two of the following teams after conference championship weekend:

Sporting News breaks down what teams stand to move up and down the top 25 ahead of the third set of CFP rankings after the Sooners’ loss:

Rankings reflect Week 11 College Football Playoff top 25

Oregon (8-1)

Previous rank: 3

You could argue no team outside of No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Alabama controls its own destiny at this point of the season. But Oregon is in great position as the current No. 3 team in the latest rankings. The Ducks have to finish the job against Washington State on Saturday (they should remain at No. 3 in the polls), then No. 24 Utah and Oregon State to finish the regular season. The Pac-12 championship game awaits after that. It’d be hard to keep Mario Cristobal’s team out of the running if it won out, but the Ducks can do themselves a favor by winning convincingly from here on out. Regardless, they would rather deal with a one-loss Sooners team than an undefeated one.

Ohio State (8-1)

Previous rank: 4

Ohio State is a spot behind the Ducks, and has a considerably tougher schedule to the end its season — a double-edged sword if there ever was one. The Buckeyes have a harder path to winning out, but if they achieve the feat against Purdue (which has two top-five victories already), No. 6 Michigan, No. 7 Michigan State and the Big Ten West division champion, there’s virtually zero chance the committee keeps them out. Like Oregon, Ohio State should be cheering Oklahoma’s loss, which puts the teams in equal standings where records are concerned. It will remain No. 4 in Tuesday’s rankings if it beat the Boilermakers.

Cincinnati (10-0)

Previous rank: 5

Oklahoma’s loss was a victory for Cincy, but not as big as it was for other teams in contention for the playoff. The Bearcats could very well be one of only two undefeated teams at the end of the season, but it probably won’t be enough unless their competition loses another game. That means two-loss Power 5 champions out of the Big Ten, Pac-12 and Big 12. Cincy should remain in the top five again come Tuesday, but the Bearcats need more help than any other team to make a CFP berth in the last three weeks of the season.

Michigan (9-1)

Previous rank: 6

Michigan is another big fan of Saturday’s outcome, especially after outlasting a 6-4 Penn State team — one that was remarkably absent from previous top-25 rankings — in a 21-17 defensive slugfest. The Wolverines are squarely in contention for the Big Ten championship, but need Ohio State to beat Michigan State before beating the Buckeyes themselves. They would then need to win the Big Ten title game. That likely is enough to get Jim Harbaugh and Co. into the playoff, but nothing is set in stone at this point of the season. Either way, Michigan should remain at No. 6, one spot ahead of No. 7 Michigan State, in the latest rankings.

Michigan State (8-1)

Previous rank: 7

Another big winner from Oklahoma’s loss. The Spartans were a surprising pick at the No. 7 spot in the latest rankings, one position lower than a team they beat the previous week. But they control their own destiny in the Big Ten, and still have Ohio State and Penn State on the schedule. Assuming they beat Maryland on Saturday, the Spartans will remain No. 7 in the CFP top 25 and still in contention for a playoff berth.

Notre Dame (8-1)

Previous rank: 9

The Fighting Irish remain quietly on the fringe of the Playoff picture, though the Irish — like the Bearcats — need help to get in without a conference championship game to rely on. If Notre Dame handily beats Virginia on Saturday, it should move up a spot. If the Fighting Irish struggle in victory, it’s possible they get jumped by the Cowboys in the next set of rankings.

Oklahoma State (8-1)

Previous rank: 10

No one is happier than Oklahoma State at Oklahoma’s loss. The Cowboys not only got to watch their archrivals lose, but now claim a victory over a common opponent (they beat the Bears 24-14 in Week 5). The Cowboys can put themselves in the driver’s seat by winning their next two games before Bedlam. Depending on how Notre Dame fares against the Cavaliers in Week 11, they could move up one or two spots in the rankings on Tuesday.

Here’s the best part for Oklahoma State: It’s in position to knock the Sooners out of the Big 12 championship game at the end of the season. If Oklahoma State and Baylor win out, the Bears’ victory over Oklahoma in Week 11 would knock Oklahoma out of contention.

Oklahoma (9-1)

Previous rank: 8

Oklahoma placed itself in an unenviable predicament on Saturday. The Sooners no longer control their own destiny as a potential undefeated Power 5 conference champion. Even if Riley’s team wins out, it will potentially have to stack its resume against undefeated Cincinnati, one-loss Big Ten champion, one-loss Oregon and one-loss Alabama. Considering how little the committee thought of them in the first two sets of rankings, it’s possible Saturday’s loss could be considered insurmountable.

The best thing the Sooners can hope for is to win out. Secondly, it needs Oklahoma State to drop another game outside of Bedlam. Then it needs Baylor to win out. That would give Oklahoma a rematch vs. the Bears — the only team to beat it in the regular season — in the conference title game. It also needs the Big Ten East to cannibalize itself in the last few weeks. A Penn State victory over Michigan would have helped on Saturday, but the Wolverines still must face Ohio State to end the season. The Buckeyes and Spartans still must play as well.

The Sooners would also like a little extra insurance with a Ducks loss, plus an undefeated Georgia to knock Alabama out of contention, to keep hope for a playoff berth. That’s not impossible by any stretch of the imagination, but the Sooners would much rather have controlled their destiny in the last few weeks than not.

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