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The Monday After: Why you shouldn’t want to see Oklahoma in the College Football Playoff

Oklahoma has been No. 6 in the College Football Playoff Rankings the last couple of weeks, and when the new top 25 is released Tuesday night, odds are it will remain there. With the top eight teams in last week’s rankings all picking up wins, it’s hard to imagine there being much shuffling in the order at the top.

But to be perfectly honest, I’m hoping Oklahoma falls.

I don’t root against teams, and I’m not rooting against the Sooners, but I’m not going to lie about my feelings, either. I don’t want Oklahoma to make the College Football Playoff this season.

I enjoy watching its offense play every week as Kyler Murray has picked up right where Baker Mayfield left off. He’s currently second in the nation with a passer efficiency of 205.82, which is a better number than Mayfield finished with in any of his seasons with the Sooners. Murray’s just a joy to watch. Whether he’s tossing picture-perfect passes down the field or scooting around in the pocket like the Madden version of Michael Vick, I’m typically captivated to see what he does next. The problem is that Murray and the Sooners offense are too good sometimes. They have a tendency to strike quickly and put another touchdown on the board, and when Oklahoma scores a touchdown, it means only one thing …

Now I have to watch its defense, and I don’t want to watch the Oklahoma defense.

The Sooners fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops following their 48-45 loss to Texas. At that point, the unit had allowed 27.3 points per game and 5.3 yards per play. Their opponents had entered the red zone 21 times and scored on all 21 possessions, including 18 touchdowns to only three field goals.

They have played five games since coach Lincoln Riley fired Stoops and replaced him with Ruffin McNeil, and in those five games, they’ve allowed 34.8 points per game and 6.6 yards per play. Their opponents have entered the red zone 16 times and scored on 15 of those trips with 14 touchdowns and a lone field goal.

Now, some context is needed here because all five games post-Stoops have been against Big 12 teams, while three of the six games under Stoops came against FAU, UCLA and Army. But even with that context, it’s pretty clear that this Oklahoma defense is terrible, and it wasn’t just Stoops’ fault. There are serious problems here.

This is a team that has now allowed at least 40 points in each of its last three games, including against Kansas — Kansas! — on Saturday night. The Sooners have won 10 games this season and have allowed 29 points per game in those wins. In case you’re thinking that’s just a typical occurrence in the Big 12, it isn’t. That’s dead last in the conference this season with Oklahoma State’s 25.9 points allowed per victory as the next closest total. Since 2009, the only Big 12 teams to allow at least 29 points per game in games they won were 2011 Kansas (33.0), 2011 Baylor (33.4), 2012 West Virginia (29.9) and 2015 Texas Tech (32.7).

On the national level, there are only seven teams that have won more than one game while allowing more than 29 points per game in victories, and they’re schools like Oregon State, North Carolina, UMass, SMU and New Mexico State. Not exactly the cream of the college football crop in 2018.

Last year’s Oklahoma defense wasn’t stout, either, but at least it gave the Sooners somewhat of a chance.

Red zone TD%

.865 (32/27)

.612 (30/49)

Turnovers per game

0.7

1.3

All of this is why I don’t want to see this Oklahoma team in the CFP because, in an era when offenses are better than they’ve ever been, having a good defense is even more important than it’s been before. It’s not a coincidence that best defenses in the country are on top of the rankings right now. Yes, it would be fun to watch Murray and company put up points on Alabama or Clemson in a semifinal, but this defense wouldn’t have a prayer of stopping either of them. So unless the Sooners offense played a perfect game, it wouldn’t matter how many points they scored. They’d only give up more.

I’d rather bust out a big bowl of popcorn and watch this Sooners team take on UCF in a bowl game. That’s a game that would be the kind of mindless fun this 2018 Oklahoma team is meant to play in.

Negotiation of the Week

Kansas officially introduced Les Miles as its new coach Sunday in a move that had been rumored since almost immediately after it announced it was firing David Beaty. I wrote here after Beaty’s dismissal that Kansas should dare to be different and go after somebody like Jeff Monken, but it chose another path — one that’s different in its own right but not one I’m convinced will work. Still, I’m hoping it does because all fan bases deserve to have joy in their lives at some point, and Kansas football fans have suffered enough.

But it’s not Miles getting the Kansas job that caught my interest here. It’s what Miles did in the days leading up to landing the gig. It was announced Thursday that LSU and Miles had agreed to a settlement on Miles’ buyout. When LSU fired Miles, it owed him $9.6 million to be paid out over six years, and there was $6.5 million left on that buyout. They settled for $1.5 million. Now, that might seem like a good deal for LSU, but the terms of Miles’ buyout stated that the buyout would be offset by any future earnings Miles made.

In other words, if Miles accepted a head coaching job and received more than $6.5 million at it, LSU wouldn’t owe him another dime. Well, considering that college football coaches tend to be fired or hired between November and January, all LSU had to do was wait a few more weeks and see if Miles — who was quite publicly connected to the Kansas job! — landed a job elsewhere. Once he did and Kansas hired him (Miles is getting roughly $14 million), then LSU’s obligation to him would be over, though maybe they’d have to send him another monthly payment, which was about $133,000.

Instead, they gave him $1.5 million, and less than 72 hours later Les was standing at a podium wearing a Kansas hat.

Spouse of the Week

In case you missed it last week, former Ohio State receivers coach Zach Smith continues to tweet through it, and last week he went after Texas coach Tom Herman. Smith tweeted screenshots of a text conversation he had with Herman in which he threatened to air a bunch of dirty laundry about their days together at Ohio State, including allegations of infidelity. Herman replied to the texts with “Ok. Cool. Hook em” along with an emoji that looks like the Texas horns hand gesture.

So what was Herman’s wife, Michelle Herman, spotted wearing while walking off the field with her husband after Texas’ win over Iowa State?

That’s right, a shirt that says “Ok. Cool. Hook em.” That’s what love looks like.

Tennessee Fan of the Week

It’s been a while since we’ve spotlighted a Tennessee fan coming to the realization that this is what they’ve signed up for.

Head-Banging Fan of the Week

You just know this guy drives an El Camino with a cassette tape of Poison’s “Open Up and Say… Ahh!” in the tape deck at all times.

Bad Beat of the Week

The Monday After sends its thoughts and prayers to any poor soul holding an Air Force (+3) ticket on Saturday. When the Falcons kicked a field goal to go up 27-14 with 8:44 to play, things seemed safe enough, but they were not. Wyoming scored two touchdowns to take a 28-27 lead with 1:09 left, but Air Force was still covering.

Unfortunately, the Falcons — with no timeouts — threw an interception on their first offensive play after losing the lead. So all Wyoming had to do was take a knee and the game was over, but Wyoming didn’t do that. Instead, Xazavian Valladay broke off a 27-yard touchdown run to give the Cowboys a 35-27 lead and blow Air Force’s cover … but it gets worse for Air Force bettors. You see, Wyoming was flagged for holding on the touchdown run, but Air Force declined the penalty because allowing the touchdown to stand gave the Falcons the ball back and allowed them an opportunity to score. They wouldn’t, though, as they would throw another interception two plays later, and Air Force bettors were left standing there wondering what the hell just happened to them.

Randy Edsall Bonus of the Week

I’m sorry to any UConn fans reading this feature every week, but it’s never going to stop amusing me.

Worst Way To Lose of the Week

Can you imagine thinking you’ve pulled off a home upset against a ranked team on a Hail Mary only to have it overturned because somebody stepped out of bounds? If you can’t, just ask Colorado State how it felt.

AP Voter of the Week

This week’s AP Voter of the Week is Don Williams of the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal. Don must be angling for a job on the CFP Selection Committee because he really seems to hate Group of Five teams. There’s only one on his ballot this week, and that’s UCF at No. 17, which is a full nine spots lower than where it ended up in the final poll. In fact, Don’s the only person to put the Knights below No. 11 on their ballot this week. He has 7-4 Northwestern — which lost to Akron earlier this season — one spot ahead of the Knights.

As for other Group of Five teams, Williams has decided to rank five other four-loss teams ahead of them. My favorite is 6-4 Stanford at No. 25. Williams didn’t include Stanford on his ballot last week, but he must have really been impressed with the Cardinal during practice this week. The Cardinal didn’t play due to their game against Cal being canceled because of the air quality in the Bay Area due to wildfires in California.

College Football Playoff Projection of the Week

  1. Alabama
  2. Clemson
  3. Notre Dame
  4. Michigan

Until the next Monday After!



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