NORMAN, Okla. — The College Football Playoff committee released their initial set of rankings Tuesday night, but ask Sooner head coach Lincoln Riley and he’ll make it clear that’s of very little concern for his team right now. He’s only focused on getting the Sooners in the best possible position to win the remainder of their contests, starting with this weekend’s 7 p.m. CT tilt at Texas Tech.
“No, no, I didn’t know where we were until the radio show yesterday,” Riley said. “Toby [Rowland] told me during the show. So I don’t know. I know they said we were seventh. I honestly don’t know where anybody else is at. I couldn’t tell you who the top four are.
“I mean, it doesn’t [matter]. It’s just a waste of time right now. I mean, what were we? I think they said three years ago maybe we were 15th or 14th, and then everybody at that time probably said, ‘Well, they’ve got no chance.’
“You just play. You just get better week-to-week. And so I’ve been through it enough now, and we’ve been through it, that it’s not part of our thought process right now.”
As Riley stated, the Sooners advanced to the CFP in 2015 after debuting at No. 15. They also nearly worked their way into the field after starting at No. 14 a year later. Last year, they earned their second CFP berth following a No. 5 mark in the first set of rankings. So suffice it to say No. 7 is a great place to be.
“All that committee stuff and all that, that’s all good,” Riley said. “I mean, it just comes down to winning, at the end of the day. You know, we’ve proven that around here the last three years. When we’ve taken care of our business in conference and out of conference, we’ve been in good position. The one year in ’16 that we didn’t take care of business out of conference, it ended up costing us a playoff spot. So we just need to win, and if we win all that other stuff will take care of itself.”
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But even if he doesn’t want to admit it—and it’s a good thing Riley’s focus is on having his team prepared week in and week out and not the rankings—there’s no denying the positive signs from the first release. OU is three spots ahead of Ohio State, demonstrating the fact the committee heavily docked the Buckeyes for a bad, bad loss at Purdue. Meanwhile, undefeated Notre Dame is behind one-loss LSU, indicating one defeat would almost certainly drop them behind one-loss OU in the pecking order.
Simply put, Riley is right. The Sooners just need to win out, and their chances are very, very solid at returning to the four-team field for the third time in four seasons.