NORMAN — 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,” Parker 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.
The Sooners are 11-4 when Corso picks against them.
• 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.