KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The Chiefs are busy preparing for a Week 17 contest with the AFC West division on the line.
But not too engaged that Chiefs offensive lineman Donald Stephenson, long snapper James Winchester and defensive lineman David King will ignore the College Football Playoff semifinals airing Thursday afternoon.
And this is especially true when considering their alma mater, No. 4 Oklahoma (11-1), squares off against No. 1 Clemson (13-0) in the Capital One Orange Bowl.
The three former Sooners will just have to patiently wait for the Chiefs’ practice to end.
“It starts at 3 (p.m. CT),” Winchester said. “We’ll have to rush home to watch it, but we’re excited about it.”
King agreed emphatically with his teammate.
“We’re going to miss the first part of it because we’re going to be up here,” King said. “But I’m going to be getting updates throughout the day. I’m looking forward to it.”
Oklahoma faces a Clemson team that sent home wide receiver Deon Cain, kicker Ammon Lakip and tight end Jay Jay McCullough for reportedly violating team rules.
But Stephenson didn’t want to take a short-manned Tigers team lightly.
“Clemson is one of those teams that is pretty deep, so I don’t think it will be that big of a difference,” Stephenson said. “A kicker can come up big in the fourth quarter or something like that, but I don’t think it will be that big of a deal. I think they’re still a good football team.”
Cain, Lakip and McCullough are backups, but Clemson could miss Cain, who has 34 catches for 582 yards and five touchdowns on the season.
King points out Cain’s absence as a contributing factor to why he believes the Sooners will advance to the title game.
“OU should win, especially with them losing their receiver,” King said. “As much as Clemson tries to downplay how big of a role he had, he was pretty big.”
Winchester took an analytical approach before declaring a winner.
“I’ve seen Alabama play, I’ve seen Michigan State play, but I haven’t seen Clemson play much,” Winchester said. “I’ve heard a lot about them. I know they’re good; they wouldn’t be No. 1 if they weren’t. I like our odds. I think we’re going to win.”
Stephenson took a direct approach with his prediction.
“Oklahoma, of course,” he said with a wide grin.
The Sooners reeled off seven straight wins to close the season and secure the right to represent the Big 12 Conference in the College Football Playoff after the conference was shunned in 2014.
And with less than 24 hours before Oklahoma takes the field, King offered a message to the football team.
“Go take care of business, prove the doubters wrong, just use it as motivation,” King said. “I know the quarterback (Baker Mayfield) is going to be ready to play. I love what they’re doing this year. Keep doing it for all us alumni. Boomer Sooner, man.”