In his first season as a college head coach, Lincoln Riley has one of college football’s traditional powerhouses within striking distance of playing for a national championship.

The Oklahoma Sooners will make their second College Football Playoff appearance since 2015 thanks to a Big 12 title and a 12-1 record. The Sooners will face Georgia in the Rose Bowl for a New Year’s Day semifinal round clash.

Three days following the announcement of Oklahoma as the No. two seed in the College Football Playoff, legendary Oklahoma football coach Barry Switzer looked ahead toward their playoff run Inside the Locker Room.

Oklahoma v Ohio State
Getty Images

One of the primary reasons for Oklahoma’s 12-1 campaign is the play of quarterback Baker Mayfield. The senior from Austin, Texas, led the FBS with 41 touchdown passes and is second in the country with 4,340 yards passing.

In addition to his skills, Switzer pointed to his competitive spirit as a difference maker for the team.

“First of all, it’s not just what Lincoln Riley is doing, it’s the vogue in college football today.” Switzer said.

“He’s a cheerleader. He elevates the play of that football team offensively, defensively. He is a great inspiration to that team. He is a competitive guy. I’ve never seen a guy compete like him.” Switzer said.

The former Oklahoma football coach also noted Mayfield’s ability as a playmaker.

“He’s hard to get a hold of. He’s a hard guy to get down. He can herky-jerky scramble. He’s a spastic looking runner. He’s not a smooth, fluid athlete like some of the quarterbacks I had play for me who were a lot faster, but he’s fast enough, big enough, strong enough, and he is a playmaker.” Switzer said.

While Oklahoma has one of the top offenses in the country, they haven’t been nearly as prolific on defense. The Sooners rank third in the Big XII in pass defense (240.6 yards per game), fourth in total defense (384.8 yards per game), fourth in scoring defense (25 points per game) and sixth in rushing defense (144.2 yards per game).

With seven of the ten teams in the Big XII averaging over 250 yards per game passing and eight of the ten teams scoring over 29 points per game, Switzer noted the difficulty that defensive coordinators in the conference have in slowing down opposing offenses.

“The worst job in college in football today is being a defensive coordinator in the Big XII. Lincoln Riley is no different than the rest of the league. The rest of the league is lined up with skill people, throwing the ball, putting them in space and creating a lot of problems for defensive coordinators.” Switzer said.

The former Oklahoma football coach provided a scouting report regarding the type of personnel that the Sooners utilize, especially in a passing oriented Big XII.

“Our defensive backs aren’t very big at all. They’re speed guys that can run. They’re coverage guys. They’re not recruited to play the run game. They’re not big, physical guys and we don’t meet offenses that line up two tight ends and run the football. That doesn’t happen in this league.” Switzer said.

Catch Inside the Locker Room every weekday from 7-9 AM on Tide 102.9/100.9 and the Tide 102.9 app.

More From Tide 100.9