Oklahoma State was No. 6 in the Coaches and AP Polls on Sunday, but having the Cowboys move up just one spot after two top-5 teams lost last week could be foreshadowing a problem for the Big 12 once the College Football Playoff rankings start rolling out next month.
North Carolina took a tumble from No. 5 after its 31-28 loss to unranked Florida State. The Tar Heels are now No. 14 in the AP Poll, but Georgia got a more favorable ranking after its 41-24 loss to No. 2 Alabama, slipping from No. 3 to No. 4.
Oklahoma has represented the Big 12 in the playoff in four of the past five years, but a 2-2 start has the unranked Sooners out of the CFP conversation. Oklahoma State, the only undefeated team left in the conference, is the Big 12’s best shot at being represented for the fourth consecutive season. OU has consistently been able to make the playoff with one regular-season loss, but that may be harder to accomplish for a Big 12 team this year.
No. 4 Georgia, No. 7 Texas A&M and No. 10 Florida are the three one-loss teams currently ranked in the top 10. All three play in the SEC. With Alabama the favorite to win the conference and the No. 2 team in the country, a one-loss SEC champion will have its chance at multiple quality wins along the way. The same can be said for the Big Ten and the ACC.
Saturday’s game against No. 17 Iowa State will be OSU’s first game against a ranked opponent. A quality win against the Cyclones would have looked even better if Iowa State hadn’t opened the season with a 31-14 loss to Louisiana. OSU’s best chance at the CFP is to run the table.
Getting through the Big 12 unscathed isn’t easy. Iowa State and No. 20 Kansas State have yet to lose a conference game, and although Texas and OU aren’t having the seasons they expected, both programs are still highly talented. However, neither Texas or OU are currently ranked, which weakens OSU’s strength of schedule tremendously knowing that OU was ranked No. 3 and Texas No. 9 earlier this season.
There is still a lot of season left, especially since the Pac-12 and Big Ten haven’t even played a game yet. Other conferences could have their powerhouse teams suffer similar upsets as Texas and OU. UNC was briefly ranked in the top five before suffering an upset. The COVID-19 virus adds an additional variable to the college football chaos, so anything can happen.
Georgia couldn’t have been expected to drop more than a couple of spots after losing to the No. 2 team in the country, which is the benefit of playing in a conference with multiple top-10 teams. Oklahoma State doesn’t have that benefit.
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