"We didn't have any problem moving the ball against SEC defenses", Riley quipped on November 6, responding to a question about Big 12 criticism, and referencing the Sooners' 35-19 win over Auburn in last season's Sugar Bowl.
Perhaps the two best bowl matchups outside of the semifinals are in the Cotton Bowl as No. 5 Ohio State takes on No. 8 USC, and in the Fiesta Bowl with No. 9 Penn State facing No. 11 Washington - both games are Big Ten vs. Pac-12, the two Power 5 conferences out of luck in terms of the playoff.
The Sooners, under the direction of rookie head coach Lincoln Riley, are the No. 2 seed in the College Football Playoff while Georgia is the No. 3 seed. Oklahoma is the outlier, a good day's drive west of Alabama. "That hurts in every sport - unless it's the Super Bowl". He's what college football is all about.
Of course, Alabama got in the playoff and the other three had to transition to preparing for meaningless bowl games. While the College Football Playoff system would not include a 64-team field, imagine if an eight-seed took down a one-seed and national championship favorite in the first round?
But, Lewis said, "I still think the numbers are going to be well short of the first year of the playoff".
This year, Ohio State finished 11-2 and won the conference, but was edged out by Alabama.
Gruenthaner thought Ohio State should have been the team to get the final nod into the playoffs. That closes its case despite that Big Ten title game win.
Los Angeles sports radio host Petros Papadakis acknowledged the regional flavor of the playoff - "I hope Oklahoma can at least strike a blow for the people west of the MS", he joked - but said he didn't think it would put a damper on fans' enthusiasm nationally. However, with this being for a spot in the National Championship, I'm expecting all hands on deck. "If there is live football and it's a big game that's on, people are watching".
The 2017 college football bowl season begins with FCS schools North Carolina A&T and Grambling squaring off in the December 16 Celebration Bowl and concludes at the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta with the national championship game on January 8.
Still, Lewis said it can't be overlooked that much of the nation is left with no rooting interest.
"It's good to have the SEC represented". Any more than eight teams, then yes, it would be less competitive. "I'm not talking to you about it. You don't want it to be too regional". With just under a month until kickoff, consider this your first look at an unorthodox matchup that nevertheless has all the makings of a Rose Bowl classic.
The Rose Bowl, known as "The Granddaddy of Them All", is the oldest bowl game.
This will mark just OU's second appearance in the Rose Bowl. Only this time, it will come on an even bigger stage.
Smart did have a positive update on senior tailback Sony Michel, who did not play in the fourth quarter Saturday due to a left knee injury and was scheduled to undergo an MRI.
Brandon Heideman, who bartends at The Lodge Sports Grille in Seattle, said there was standing-room only at his establishment previous year when the hometown Washington Huskies were in the playoff.
That one went to Alabama, the team that has played in the playoff each year since its inception in 2014.
Led by Smith, the Bulldogs will enter the semifinal game ranked fourth in total defense, giving up an average of 271 yards to their opponents per game. "We'll have more people than usual in here for the playoff, but it won't be like it was previous year".
The decision to omit Ohio State, and to a lesser extent USC, is the toughest the selection committee had to make in their four years of doing this.