OU, Ohio State and college playoffs

Oklahoma football coach Lincoln Riley walks between players before the Sooners’ game against UTEP, Saturday at Owen Field. OU’s game at Ohio State will have an impact on the first College Football Playoff rankings when they’re released Oct. 31, but Riley and Ohio State coach Urban Meyer say there’s too much focus on that aspect. 

The College Football Playoff’s initial rankings have never gone a perfect 4 for 4.

Since the format’s inception in 2014 only Clemson and Alabama — both in 2015 and 2016 —have appeared in the first ranking and ultimately made the national semifinals.

It’s tempting to pin major CFP implications on No. 5 Oklahoma’s trip to No. 2 Ohio State Saturday — and there are some — but OU coach Lincoln Riley isn’t worrying over them.

“There’s still so much that can happen (after),” Riley said. “That’s way too big-picture for me, any of our coaches or our players. It’s about, let’s go up there and see if we can play as well as we think we can, and if we do, I think we have a chance.”

Ohio State coach Urban Meyer, whose Buckeyes have played in 2 of 3 national playoffs, doesn’t view Saturday as a make-or-break game and doesn’t understand focusing on the CFP in September, even though “there is and there there always will be,” early attention on it, he said.

“I can’t speak for Oklahoma, but we pay no attention to that,” Meyer said. “We’re just trying to win a game. But sure, there’s far too much [early focus], because it’s a long season and a lot of things happen.”

The first 2017 CFP rankings will be unveiled Oct. 31.

• Stoops on Parker: OU defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said it was clear what the Sooners lost when backup cornerback Jordan Parker sustained a season-ending knee injury last week on special teams.

“We lose a really quality player and the kid loses a year. It’s disappointing,” Stoops said.

Parker started eight games as a freshman. His absence puts three freshmen — Tre Brown, Tre Norwood and Justin Broiles — in focus on the depth chart behind sophomore Parnell Motley, who made two solo tackles against UTEP last week.

“Tre Brown and Tre Norwood have been excellent. Justin Broiles will move up. We just gotta keep pushing those guys along,” Stoops said.

Evaluating the defensive backfield wasn’t easy against UTEP, but Stoops said free safety Will Johnson, who won the position in the preseason, “did OK,” and mentioned that senior strong safety Steven Parker “played one of his best games in awhile.”

UTEP’s style was vastly different to review on video compared to the spread offenses Stoops is accustomed to watching.

“I couldn’t tell you the last time I saw 22 guys in one shot on film; I think I was back in Iowa,” Stoops quipped. “It was a little different.”

• Catching Corso: ESPN’s popular College GameDay program will air live Saturday from Columbus, from 8 a.m.-11 a.m. ahead of OU’s game at Ohio State (kickoff 6:30 p.m., ABC).

The outdoor studio — manned by Rece Davis, Lee Corso, Kirk Herbstreit, Desmond Howard and David Pollack — will be set up at “The Oval” on the Ohio State campus, a gathering place located at 181 Oval Drive South in Columbus.

It’s always a big fan draw, but Riley isn’t sure it has an effect on OU’s players.

“I can remember at Texas Tech in ‘08, [GameDay] came for the Texas game and that was the first time they’d ever been to Lubbock. It was a big, big deal, and it should have been. It was a great thing,” Riley said. “Here, it’s a little bit different. Guys are kind of used to that attention.”

This is the fifth meeting between a Big Ten and Big 12 school that GameDay has covered. The Big Ten has won 3 of 4 meetings.

OU has been a road underdog the last two times GameDay covered its games — at Baylor in 2015 and at Oklahoma State in 2010 — and the Sooners came away with victories both times.

Corso, notorious for making a prediction accompanied by donning a piece of that school’s mascot costume, has picked against OU 15 times, the most he’s picked against any school.

The Sooners are 11-4 when Corso picks against them.

• Ohio State bag policy: OU season-ticket holders gobbled up the school’s allotment of tickets to the Ohio State game months ago.

Sooner fans making the trip to Columbus should be aware of Ohio State’s no-bag policy. Bags and purses of any size are not allowed in Ohio Stadium. Wallets and wristlets no larger than 5”x8”x1” will be permitted.

There are exceptions.

Guests with medical or childcare needs may bring one bag no larger than 14”x14”x4” through the gates. Those fans must enter through the Steinbrenner Band Center Entrance between Gate 10 and 12, or at the press entrance between the Huntington Club and Gate 23 for bag inspections.

• Mayfield praise: Riley has said he believes OU quarterback Baker Mayfield is a different player than he was this time last year, when Mayfield forced the issue against Ohio State at times, tossing two interceptions.

Meyer said Ohio State studied Mayfield “all in the offseason.”

“He’s just one of the best players in America,” Meyer said. “I think he’s carrying on what he does, which is play that position very uniquely and very aggressively.” 

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