OU football: Oklahoma taking first steps toward what it hopes is another CFP rebound

Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley and quarterback Jalen Hurts (1) talk during the game between OU and Texas at the Cotton Bowl on October 12 in Dallas, Texas. (June Frantz Hunt / Norman Transcript)

NORMAN — College Football Playoff committee chairman Rob Mullens said voters spent more time talking about Oklahoma and Utah than it did any other two teams Tuesday night.

The vote did not go in OU’s favor. It remained behind Utah in the penultimate CFP rankings, meaning the Sooners need even more help this weekend to make the national semifinals.

OU rose to No. 6 after it beat Oklahoma State and Alabama lost to Auburn. There was a chance the Sooners might leap-frog Utah to No. 5, but the Utes stayed ahead by moving up a spot themselves.

The Sooners (11-1) have three wins over teams in the current CFP top 25, including now No. 7 Baylor. Utah (11-1) is 0-1 against CFP ranked teams, with an opportunity to improve that against No. 13 Oregon on Friday.

OU’s CFP hopes now hinge beating Baylor in the Big 12 title game at 11 a.m. Saturday (ABC); No. 2 LSU beating No. 4 Georgia in the SEC championship (3 p.m. Saturday, CBS) and Utah losing to Oregon in the Pac-12 championship (7 p.m. Friday, ABC).

There is, of course, a chance the committee could jump OU over Utah in Sunday's bowl selection show, but for now its decision has the Utes in the driver’s seat for a final playoff spot if it becomes available.

“We spent considerable time on it, more time than anywhere else on the board. There was plenty of debate,” Mullens said of OU and Utah. “Obviously when you look at Oklahoma's résumé, they have the win against the No. 7 team on the road, without a key wide receiver [CeeDee Lamb]. They also beat Oklahoma State.

“When we look at Utah, we see a season-long balance of very consistent play on both sides of the ball. Very dominant wins. Their only loss is on a Friday night on the road at a No. 22 ranked team when a key player on offense missed the majority of the game.”

Mullens appeared to be weighing Utah’s 24-point average margin of victory over OU’s 19.6-point margin. It’s the first time this season Mullens has noted that Utah’s loss against No. 22 USC came on a Friday night; he also added the Utes lost running back Zack Moss in the third quarter of that game.

OU coach Lincoln Riley wouldn’t present his team’s case for the CFP committee Monday when given an opportunity.

“I know some coaches like to stand up and do the politicking thing. That's just not me,” Riley said. “We're gonna coach hard and try to win our games, and if you think we're good enough, put us in there. That's about it.”

• Thompson transferring: Oklahoma offensive lineman Michael Thompson entered the transfer portal, he announced Tuesday. 

Thompson, a St. Louis native, signed as a four-star defensive tackle but suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament before redshirting in 2018. He was moved to the offensive line last spring; it was seen as a fit because the Sooners and others once recruited him as an offensive lineman in high school. 

He was said to be making progress after the move but will leave OU having never appeared in a game. 

"I would like to say thanks to @LincolnRiley and the rest of the Oklahoma coaching staff for giving me a opportunity to do what I love and pursue my dreams but after taking some time and thinking I will be entering the transfer portal," Thompson posted to his Twitter account.

Thompson is the fifth OU player to enter the portal this season, joining Jonathan Perkins, Miguel Edwards, Starrland Baldwin and Jaqualyn Crawford. 

Entering the NCAA database doesn't finalize a player's transfer, but in the portal era, A.D. Miller is believed to be the only OU player to return after toying with the idea of leaving. 

• Bedenbaugh’s gesture: During senior night at OU two weeks ago, offensive line coach Bill Bedebaugh’s wife, Maryde, joined left tackle R.J. Proctor on the field beforehand. Proctor’s parents couldn’t make it because plane tickets from Virginia and hotel costs were too high.

The graduate transfer was grateful for the gesture.

“That meant a lot to me, knowing that my parents couldn’t be here for me and she wanted to be here for me,” Proctor said. “It’s definitely a family, that’s one thing I can say about being here, it’s a family culture. Coach Riley is big on that.”

It was Maryde’s idea, Bedenbaugh said.

Proctor added his parents are planning to attend OU’s bowl game.

• Bookie’s best: Brendan “Bookie” Radley-Hiles played his best game in defensive coordinator Alex Grinch’s eyes last week.

Radley-Hiles finished with a career-high 10 tackles (eight solo) against Oklahoma State. The coaching staff’s trust in him has never been higher, Grinch said.

"I thought he played aggressive. I thought, again, within the structure of the defense, I think we've said, 'do your job, do only your job and cut it loose,' and I think he's progressing that way and has an understanding.”


College Football Playoff rankings (12/3/19)

1. Ohio St.12-0
2. LSU12-0
3. Clemson12-0
4. Georgia11-1
5. Utah11-1
6. Oklahoma11-1
7. Baylor11-1
8. Wisconsin10-2
9. Florida10-2
10. Penn St.10-2
11. Auburn9-3
12. Alabama10-2
13. Oregon10-2
14. Michigan9-3
15. Notre Dame10-2
16. Iowa9-3
17. Memphis11-1
18. Minnesota10-2
19. Boise St.11-1
20. Cincinnati10-2
21. Appalachian St.11-1
22. Southern Cal8-4
23. Virginia9-3
24. Navy9-2
25. Oklahoma St.8-4

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