Oklahoma has been well and fortunate enough to make the College Football Playoff four times since the start of the playoff prior to the 2014 college football season.
The Sooners earned their way into the College Football Playoff in the 2015, 2017, 2018, and 2019 seasons, meaning OU has made it to the final four of college football exactly 50 percent of the time since the format’s inception.
OU has been unlucky enough to lose each of its four appearances in the CFP.
Clemson recovered from a deficit at halftime and defeated Oklahoma, 37-17, to end the 2015 season. In 2017 Oklahoma and Georgia played a classic. That Rose Bowl was won by the Bulldogs in double overtime, 54-48, when Georgia driving back Sony Michel broke through for a 27-yard game-winning score.
The last two gigs weren’t particularly close. In 2018, Alabama jumped 28-0 early for Oklahoma and won 45-34. Then, against LSU in 2019, Joe Burrow and the Tigers dominated OU, winning 63-28.
In an ESPN+ story, ESPN’s Bill Connelly ranked all 32 CFP teams, and here’s where the contestants from Oklahoma checked in.
No. 30 – 2019 Oklahoma
Led by quarterback Jalen Hurts, wide receiver CeeDee Lamb and running backs Rhamondre Stevenson and Kennedy Brooks, the Sooners defeated Baylor in overtime of the 2019 Big 12 Championship Game, 30-23, to advance to the College Football Playoff as the number 4 seed .
After three years at No. 1, Lincoln Riley’s 2019 Sooners only finished third in offensive SP+, and the defense wasn’t good enough to make up for this smidgen offensive mortality. They rolled to 7-0, but stumbled against Kansas State, taking four tight wins in their last five games. That was enough to give the Sooners their fourth CFP appearance in five years, but they were destroyed in the Peach Bowl. —Connelly, ESPN.
No. 26 – 2015 Oklahoma
It was the Sooners’ first appearance in the CFP. Despite an early loss to Texas, Oklahoma won its last seven games for the CFP behind freshman starting quarterback Baker Mayfield.
The Bob Stoops Sooners entered 2015 with a new offensive coordinator (Lincoln Riley) and a transfer quarterback (Baker Mayfield), and after a disappointing 2014, OU got going again. The Sooners won a loaded Big 12 and were 3.5-point favorites against Clemson in the Orange Bowl. They even took a 17-16 lead at half time. Clemson, however, shifted to fifth gear in the second half and sent the Sooners home with a 20-point loss. —Connelly, ESPN.
No. 23 – 2018 Oklahoma
Replacing Baker Mayfield as quarterback wasn’t an easy question, but Kyler Murray managed to win a Heisman Trophy-winning season, finishing as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft.
OU lost to Baker Mayfield, but somehow improved offensively. Kyler Murray threw for 4,361 yards and rushed for 1,001, and the Sooners racked up 45 points 10 times. However, the defense was lousy. Lincoln Riley fired coordinator Mike Stoops in six games, but the Sooners conceded 44 points per game over their last six games and gave up 31 points in the first half to Alabama in the Orange Bowl. That was too much for even Murray to overcome. —Connelly, ESPN.
No. 19 – 2017 Oklahoma
This is the team that fans believe has slipped a potential national championship through the Sooners’ grasp. From the infamous squib kick to the second-half failures in the Rose Bowl, Mayfield’s career ended at OU against Georgia the way it still did for Oklahoma fans.
After a bumpy start, Lincoln Riley’s first Sooners squad found itself in top gear in mid-2017, winning the last six Big 12 games at an average of 23 points, earning Baker Mayfield the Heisman Trophy and rising to a 31-14 lead in the first half on Georgia in the Rose Bowl. However, the Sooners couldn’t hold out. Georgia came back twice to force overtime, and OU was reeled in by a blocked field goal and a Sony Michel TD run. —Connelly, ESPN.
Of the CFP teams that failed to win a game, only 2014 Alabama (No. 16) and 2019 Ohio State (No. 11) were higher than the 2017 Sooners in Connelly’s rankings.
2020 Alabama was No. 1 on Connelly’s list, 2019 LSU was No. 2, 2018 Clemson was No. 3, 2021 Georgia was No. 4, and 2017 Alabama was No. 5.
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