College Football Playoff: Utah or Oklahoma?

Adam Friedman, Recruiting Analyst
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USA TODAY

With Alabama and Minnesota now out of the College Football Playoff conversation following losses last weekend, the four-team field is gaining more clarity with only the conference championship games remaining.

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Let's assume each of the Power Five conference title games is won by the favorite this weekend – LSU, Ohio State, Clemson, Utah and Oklahoma – will it be the Utes or Sooners getting that fourth spot in the playoff?

The latest ranking was released on Tuesday night, with Ohio State, LSU, Clemson and Georgia holding down the top four spots again. For now, Utah is a spot ahead of Oklahoma at No. 5. If LSU beats Georgia in the SEC championship on Saturday, the fourth and final playoff spot will be up for grabs.

We ask experts from around the Rivals.com network their thoughts on the Utah-Oklahoma debate.

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College Football Playoff ranking

1. Ohio State (12-0)

2. LSU (12-0)

3. Clemson (12-0)

4. Georgia (11-1)

5. Utah (11-1)

6. Oklahoma (11-1)

7. Baylor (11-1)

8. Wisconsin (10-2)

9. Florida (10-2)

10. Penn State (10-2)

STATING THEIR CASE

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Oklahoma: “It will be Oklahoma. Did you know for the first time in school history the Sooners led the Big 12 Conference in total offense and total defense? Of course, you didn't. That wouldn't fit the national talking heads' narrative.

“If the College Football Playoff committee looks at resumes there's no doubt Oklahoma's is stronger than the Utes. It's as simple as that. Who have you beaten?

“Everyone wants to ask what's wrong with Oklahoma's offense? But the real question might be why aren't you paying attention?

“Sure he might not look the same as his Heisman Trophy predecessors but Jalen Hurts and Oklahoma are moving the ball at a historically good rate, yet again. To the tune of 8.4 yards per play which pales in comparison only to last year's FBS record of 8.6 yards per play. Defensively, the Sooners are in much better position than they've been in five years.

“Quietly Oklahoma's full resume is stronger than it has been in previous trips to the College Football Playoff.” – Eddie Radosevich, SoonerScoop.com

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH OKLAHOMA FANS AT SOONERSCOOP.COM

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Utah: “Utah deserves it and I really don’t think there should be much debate on it. The argument will be that Oklahoma has better wins, but it’s the committee members’ job to watch all of the necessary games. In those games, they see Utah thoroughly dominating its opponents and playing a complete game, both offensively and defensively.

“Not counting each team’s one loss, the Sooners have won four games by seven points or less — and it’s not like those close games came against great teams, either. The Utes have won by five points once and other than that, their next lowest margin of victory is 18. Not only that, Vegas keeps giving Utah high spreads, and it continues to beat the spread.

“Experts and fans, alike, will comment about Baylor being a better opponent than Oregon this weekend. Baylor’s schedule is dreadful, and in reality Oregon would be favored to beat them head to head. Why do I mention that? The Ducks may be out of the playoff picture, but they still have a favorable ranking that will help Utah’s case if the Utes can win.

“If the Utes win by more than a touchdown, there really should be no argument whatsoever.” – Alex Markham, UteNation.com

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH UTAH FANS AT UTENATION.COM

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WHAT OTHERS THINK

Clemson: “For all the talk about expanding the playoff to eight teams, the actual on-field results suggest that if there's any change it should be paring it down to three.

“I guess I'd give a slight edge to Oklahoma based on the Sooners' attractive road victories over Baylor and Oklahoma State.

“But to me, whoever finishes No. 5 might be done a favor. I don't see either of these teams as a legitimate threat to win a national title. The more likely scenario has the Sooners or Utes being boat-raced in the semifinal against whoever ends up No. 1 on Sunday.” – Larry Williams, TigerIllustrated.com

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH CLEMSON FANS AT TIGERILLUSTRATED.COM

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LSU: “What metrics are we using here? Whether you use the eye test or just simply compare resumes, then Oklahoma is the choice. If we are going by the eye test, then Oklahoma is the choice. But if we are going to pick the team most capable of winning it all, then Oklahoma is once again the choice. It makes so much sense that it likely will not happen.” – Jimmy Smith, TigerDetails.com

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Ohio State: “Deserves to and dangerous are not always congruent, in any argument. In the battle of who should be the No. 4 team in the CFP, I am not sure if the stars align there as well.

“Jeff Sagarin has Oklahoma a couple of spots above Utah at this point and if the two teams met on a neutral field the Sooners would be about a touchdown favorite. But if their respective conference title game foes faced one another with Baylor and Oregon, the Ducks would be a negligible one-point favorite, give or take.

“I guess I am a sucker for a team that can play defense and Oklahoma has not proven that defense is part of that #OUDNA, at least not yet under first-year and former Ohio State co-DC Alex Grinch. The Sooners have not held a single foe, even bad, overmatched teams to fewer than 14 points and six foes have scored more than 21 on this defense. Utah is a much more complete team and while the Pac-12 as a whole is not as strong as the Big 12, the nod should be given to the more complete team.

“Now, Oklahoma might be the scarier team just based on that offense. You never know what is going to happen in a 60-minute game against that kind of offense. A couple of turnovers and service breaks as a result could get you in a hole quickly. But I also think that any of the other three teams in that playoff could score 70 against that defense if things go according to plan.” – Kevin Noon, BuckeyeGrove.com

SHARE YOUR THOUGHTS WITH OHIO STATE FANS AT BUCKEYEGROVE.COM

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