Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams appears to have caught the eye of the College Football Playoff selection committee.
The Sooners — despite a perfect record through the season’s first nine weeks — were ranked No. 8 in the first CFP Top 25 released this season.
Tuesday’s poll serves as a jumping-off point for the college football world. There is expected to be much fluctuation during each poll reveal on Tuesdays in November. The final outcome will come on Dec. 5 when the four-team playoff field is unveiled.
It is the first time in the CFP’s eight-year history that the Sooners (9-0) entered the first set of rankings with an unbeaten record.
Georgia topped the CFP Top 25 poll, which was released on Tuesday night. The Bulldogs were followed by Alabama, Michigan State, Oregon, Ohio State and Cincinnati.
Oklahoma State (7-1) came it No. 11, its highest ranking in the inaugural CFP Top 25 since 2017. The Cowboys sit one spot ahead of No. 12 Baylor, which OSU topped 24-14 on Oct. 2
The Cowboys travel to West Virginia on Saturday. Kickoff is set for 2:30 p.m. on ESPN. Oklahoma is off this Saturday.
CFP selection chairman Gary Barta said there was consideration of the Sooners being No. 8 with their spot being swapped with unbeaten Wake Forest. OU has had several one-possession wins, he added, and “those close calls are seen by the committee just like everybody else.”
“First of all, they’re 9-0, and so they belong being ranked eighth. They’re undefeated, so they get a lot of credit for that. But you mentioned it, defensive struggles throughout the year certainly was discussed,” Barta said.
“The other thing that was discussed is Oklahoma is still trying to find their identity, but, certainly, when they added Caleb Williams at quarterback, the committee agreed that the offense certainly changed in a positive way … we may be seeing it impacting the whole team, defense included.”
The Sooners have advanced to the CFP in four of the past seven seasons. Each year, the program made up ground to vault into the four-team playoff.
OU coach Lincoln Riley said earlier on Tuesday that he wasn’t the slightest intrigued with where the Sooners would be plotted.
“To me, it’s just meaningless stuff to kill the time until we get to the end. I think a great example is go back and look where we were ranked in the first CFP poll all the years that we got into the CFP,” Riley said. “The biggest games, the best games, the most important games all across the country are still yet to be played.
“There are a lot of good teams that are vying for it. The best ones tend to rise up this time of year and separate themselves. That will happen this year.”
Oklahoma was No. 15 in the initial rankings when it made the CFP in 2015. It started No. 5 (2017), Nov. 7 (2018) and No. 9 (2019) in other years that it advanced a national semifinal game.
OU finishes the regular season with games at Baylor (Nov. 13), Iowa State (Nov. 20) and at OSU (Nov. 27). The Big 12 championship game will be Dec. 4.
The 2021 CFP semifinal games will be played on Dec. 31 at the Cotton Bowl and the Orange Bowl.
The national championship game will be played on Jan. 10 in Indianapolis.