In a weekend where the potential teams competing for the Big 12 Championship was supposed to emerge, they did, and it’s now a three-way race between the Oklahoma Sooners, West Virginia Mountaineers, and Texas Longhorns.
While some conferences have grown used to one or two teams vaulting to the top of the conference for a bid at a National Championship, the Big 12 has owned up to its moniker: Every Game Matters. With the Iowa State Cyclones knocking on the door last weekend in Austin at hopes for an upset over the Longhorns, that made things even more interesting, as the Cyclones had a pretty rocky start to the season. Now that Iowa State is out of the equation, a number of other things have to happen for each team to carve a path to the December 1 title game, and potentially a trip to the College Football Playoffs.
Texas did itself a huge favor in its dominant 24-10 victory over the Cyclones. Although, the bigger issue now is in the health of quarterback Sam Ehlinger, who sustained an AC contusion against Iowa State. Head coach Tom Herman said in the post-game that Ehlinger’s X-rays tested negative for breaks and that it wasn’t related to the injury he sustained against Baylor. Herman also revealed that backup quarterback Shane Buechele was the most involved backup, so the confidence shouldn’t be disrupted regardless of who’s a go come game time.
As for the three-way race? Texas defeated Oklahoma; Oklahoma plays West Virginia this week, and West Virginia has defeated Texas. Follow? Peak Big 12, I know. This is where transitive wins apply. West Virginia lost to Oklahoma State last weekend, so, therefore, all Texas needs to head to Dallas is a win over Kansas. Will Grier could use a championship game to bolster his Heisman standings… then again, so could Sooners’ quarterback Kyler Murray. In any event, if Texas wins, they play either Oklahoma or West Virginia for the Big 12 Championship.
I suppose you could say Texas is back and continues to control its destiny.
As for Oklahoma and West Virginia, both teams have had their share of defensive issues, which only seem to be getting worse. Since OU fired defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, few things seem to be clicking. For the Mountaineers, which have had a fairly stout defense all season, allowing 604 total yards of offense against an Oklahoma State team that has struggled this season isn’t a good look either.
Big 12 teams have earned bids in two of the four years since the Playoff took place of the BCS. And while it isn’t intangible for the winner of the Big 12 Championship to have a spot in the Playoff, several dominos will have to fall throughout college football in the next two weeks.
Most oddsmakers still have the No. 6 ranked Sooners as the fringe team for the Big 12 in the Playoffs if they were to win out. If Texas wins out, it’s hard to see a scenario where they play in any game outside the New Years 6.
Want More? Watch the UnafraidShow.