Where are the Oklahoma Sooners headed in ESPN’s latest Bowl Projections?

·3 min read

It certainly didn’t take much for the Oklahoma Sooners to lose the faith of the voters in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll and the AP Top 25. Of course, the votes might have gone differently if the Sooners weren’t dominated in all three phases on Fox’s national broadcast.

Though it was a tight game through three quarters, Baylor’s running game eventually wore down the Sooners’ defense, who didn’t have much of an answer in the fourth quarter. That’s less of an indication of where the defense is and more related to the offense’s inability to sustain drives against a physical Bears’ defense.

Like in the polls, where Oklahoma dropped from four to outside the top 10, ESPN didn’t think much of the Sooners’ loss to Baylor either in their latest bowl projections (ESPN+).

Though Oklahoma still has a lot to play for, they have a bit of an uphill battle to get back into the College Football Playoff. Kyle Bonagura and Mark Schlabach of ESPN thought the Oklahoma Sooners were the team that hurt its cause for prominent bowl positioning the most.

Here’s where the ESPN analysts project the Sooners to head for their bowl game and what they had to say after Oklahoma’s loss to the Baylor Bears.

Bonagura – All-State Sugar Bowl vs. Ole Miss

Oklahoma is really the only option here. The Sooners’ loss at Baylor validated the committee’s assessment of them and removes them from the playoff discussion. It was a long time coming after several unconvincing wins this year, and it makes it tougher for Oklahoma fans to enjoy the ongoing meltdown in Austin. – Bonagura, ESPN

Schlabach – Cheez-It Bowl vs. Pittsburgh

The CFP selection committee didn’t like Oklahoma that much to begin with, so it’s really not going to like the Sooners after their 27-14 loss at Baylor on Saturday. The Sooners can still get to the Big 12 championship game, but it’s hard to imagine them getting into the playoff. The Bears limited OU to 260 yards of offense, the fewest in Lincoln Riley’s five seasons as head coach. The Sooners also lost in November for the first time in his tenure and saw their 17-game winning streak end. – Schlabach, ESPN

The season is far from over for the Sooners, but after their 9-0 start, a spot in the Cheez-It Bowl or even the All-State Sugar Bowl to finish instead of the College Football Playoffs would be a massive disappointment for Oklahoma.

Relative to expectations, the 2021 season has been a disappointment thus far. Oklahoma’s going to need a lot of help from the Big 10 and the Pac-12 to give them a shot at playing for something meaningful in December and January. Like Schlabach mentioned, the College Football Playoff committee wasn’t a fan of the Sooners, to begin with, and this reinforces their belief that Oklahoma’s record wasn’t all that impressive.

The Sooners can still improve their standing if they can find a way to win the Big 12 and get some help from the rest of the nation, but it’s looking like the best-case scenario for the Sooners might be a New Year’s Six bowl game.

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8 takeaways from the Oklahoma Sooners' 27-14 loss to the Baylor Bears