The Big 12 football conference first lost its blue blood programs early in the season. Texas fell to TCU and OU while the Sooners lost to Iowa State and Kansas State. Early in the season, it didn’t matter, they still had their hope on OSU making a run at the playoffs. Iowa State and Kansas State also were not out of the picture with both of them having one loss. The problem with those losses is they were too bad teams, that would limit both of them from winning a resume comparison to other one-loss conference champions. As the season went on we saw more and more chaos happen in the college football world. Teams started to fall down the ladder and Iowa State falling to OSU just left two teams standing for the Big 12. Oklahoma State and Kansas State. Then West Virginia dominated the Wildcats and the Longhorns took out OSU in overtime. All of a sudden the Big 12 seems to be out of the race, but are they really?
The Wildcats have a tougher path to the championship even though they only have one loss. They are playing with their backup quarterback and have problems with the defense that showed in their loss. They also still have Texas, ISU, and OSU still left on their schedule. It could be a tough ending for all Wildcats fans and it will be no easy task to finish with four wins. In the best-case scenario, I think they will finish with two losses which would be disappointing for them. This loss against West Virginia will hurt them in the long run. The only way they get into the championship is if they can escape with one more loss. They hold the tiebreaker over 3 out of the 4 teams in contention at that point and should be in.
Oklahoma and Texas
The bitter rivals find themselves in a similar position when looking to somehow make it back to the Big 12 championship. They have to win out and need some help. For Texas, all they need is OU to fall and they are right back in the conversation. For the Sooners the most likely scenario has ISU winning out and Texas winning out and falling to ISU. In this case, the Sooners would tie atop the conference like this:
1. Iowa State: 8-1
2. Oklahoma: 7-2
3. Texas, Oklahoma State: 6-3
For Texas them and Oklahoma would simply just switch spots if OU lost a game and they win out. The biggest problem in the way is OU owning the tiebreaker between them.
Oklahoma State and Iowa State
The Cyclones and the Cowboys have similar paths to the championship like OU and Texas. All they have to do is win out and they will see each other again in the championship. If they lose it can’t be to the teams that are still in contention for a championship spot. Let’s run through a scenario that gives Oklahoma a win over OSU and ISU losing to Texas. Here are the standings with that scenario assuming both OU and Texas win out:
1. Oklahoma 7-2
2. Texas 7-2
3. Oklahoma State 7-2
4. Iowa State 7-2
OU would be in first because of their wins against OSU and UT. UT got wins against OSU and ISU. On the other side ISU and OSU are both 1-2. Then OU would win the tiebreaker through the head to head matchup. So there isn’t much room for error for both Iowa State and Oklahoma State.
Why is Big 12 championship important?
The CFP has indicated one thing over the past few years of the selection process. The conference championship is very important in getting into the playoffs. In the first-ever playoff, it was this conference that got left out because they didn’t have a conference championship. Similarly, during the 2015-16 season, OU got in with their conference championship over OSU and Iowa who both had one loss. Not to mention it also adds another ranked win to the champions resume.
What else needs to happen?
ACC: I think everyone can agree a healthy Clemson team will beat a healthy Notre Dame team. From this everyone will hope Clemson stays undefeated and Notre Dame loses to them in the regular season and the conference championship.
Big 10: The hope here is that the Ohio State Buckeyes go undefeated and knock out Michigan in the process. Penn State already has two losses on the board. While Wisconsin was a threat, without their QB or backup, it is hard to see them running the table.
SEC: The Big 12 wants Alabama to win out and go undefeated. That would knock out the winner of Florida and Georgia. The only problem left is Texas A&M who also have a few tough games left. It is likely they will drop a game and that takes care of the entire conference.
PAC 12: This conference has been predicted to be choppy since a lot of teams lost star players. If anyone could win out, Oregon would be the team to do so. I think the PAC 12 could be the biggest threat here out of the power 5. They only play seven games which makes me wonder how the committee will evaluate that.
Group of 5: The problem here is Cincinnati, BYU, Boise State. They are all undefeated and are climbing into the top 10 in the rankings. BYU I don’t see as a problem here, they have played some close games and are beatable. This is the same case with Boise State. Cincinnati is a different case and looks much stronger with their schedule. They also have a few tough games left, but Big 12 fans will need some help here.
The bottom line here is that there isn’t much that needs to happen for the Big 12 to be right back in the mix. I don’t think it is really fair to knock them out of the playoffs yet with the number of losses we have seen from the Big 12 and other top power 5 teams. It should be interesting how it plays out and if the Big 12 can get someone out there it should be interesting. College football chaos is just beginning in a season that will always be remembered.
Picture by USA Today