CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee breaks down Oklahoma’s playoff path, likely

NORMAN, Okla. The Sooners are 3-0 and riding high so far this season. They have blown out three opponents, most recently a 49-14 rout of Nebraska in Lincoln.

That point total served as the most the program has ever posted on the road in the series. And now the Sooners are getting plenty of national attention heading into their Big 12 opener against Kansas State.

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But how do Oklahoma’s playoff chances look at this early juncture, and what needs to happen? CBS Sports’ Barrett Sallee broke it all down.

“I think it depends on the landscape and I think it depends on what this team looks like,” Sallee said. “And what we’ve seen from Oklahoma so far, we know Dillon Gabriel is good, we know the offense with Jeff Lebby as the offensive coordinator will score points. But their defense was pretty solid. And I think that’s the biggest thing, is there’s this perception — look, the College Football Playoff selection committee isn’t supposed to take other seasons into the decision-making process, but they’re human. They have eyes. They understand that Oklahoma’s defense has been a disaster of late.

“Well, I think when it comes to this program, Texas needs to keep up. Texas needs to keep that momentum going, especially if Quinn Evers he is not their general. Look, he’s coming. October 8 is not so far away. I don’t think the Baylor game helps them all that much anymore. Oklahoma State, rivalry game in Norman, that can certainly help. But I think this is a team that needs style points, but I think it’s easier for Oklahoma to get it because their problem in the past has seemingly by now been fixed, relatively. Now, we’ve been fooled by Oklahoma’s defense before. Maybe we’ll be fooled again.

“But the playoff selection committee, like I said, they don’t have to consider other seasons, but they’re human. They have eyes. They understand that Oklahoma before Brent Venables was devastating defensively. This is where he comes in. Brent Venables, a defensive coach. If he changes that, it will definitely help.”

Brandon Marcell and Carl Reed of 247Sports also discussed the issue. The two had opposing views.

“No, not now,” said Marcello.Dillon GabrielI like Dillon Gabriel. I don’t think he’s going to be the great quarterback that everyone thinks he’s going to be when it’s a tight game in the fourth quarter. It’s just me. And because I’ve seen it before and how it reacts under that kind of pressure. So until I see this change at OU, I’m not going to say OU is a playoff team right now. I mean, they’re definitely going to contend because they should win the Big 12 now, looking at them these first few weeks. But no, I don’t see it right now as a serious contender for the playoffs.”

“Brandon, Brandon, Brandon, what are we talking about? The Oklahoma Sooners are definitely playoff contenders,” Reid replied. “With the exception of Georgia, which has been the most dominant program in the country so far this year, and we also all have to keep Alabama in there, right, they could easily jump to the three or four points. Ohio State has been pretty flawless, too, so far. But Oklahoma, if they win and go and win the Big 12 and go undefeated, will definitely deserve a playoff spot. And so we have to be honest with ourselves when we talk about such things. You have to show the Oklahoma Sooners some respect. Now, they will have tougher games against Nebraska. Nebraska is down a bit. We’ll get into Nebraska soon, I’m sure. Okay? We’ll get it. But that’s about Oklahoma. If Oklahoma goes undefeated and wins the Big 12, it would certainly deserve a playoff spot. But there will be many other factors. But it is. To say that they are not candidates, ah, they are definitely candidates.”

Marcello then added a bit more to his reasoning for reserving judgment for now.

“Yeah, I mean, listen, I expected the defense to play really well even after losing what they lost last season,” he said. “I wasn’t impressed, honestly, what Alex Greens he did with that unit he had last year. They should have been much better defensively. So yeah, I’m good with it. I just want to see a little more consistency Dillon Gabriel in some of those moments that are going to get a little bigger as they go down the road. Look, Nebraska is terrible. They are rotten. They are one of the worst teams in all of college football right now. I mean, listen, you put him out there on the field. And you know, Mickey Joseph, who I love by the way, you put him out there on the field like, “Man, we had some great, tough practices. We really manage everything.” It’s like, that’s great and all, but listen. Get back with me win OU is playing someone better than Iowa light.”

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The next challenge now is to keep proving the haters wrong. Obviously, Oklahoma focuses on a one-game mentality and sweeps the floor, only to get better each week. But a tough match lies ahead with a Saturday opener at 7 p.m. CT against the Wildcats.

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