This season the Big 12 Conference has gone to great lengths to promote “One True Champion”. This motto is a result of the conference playing a round robin schedule in which each school plays every team in the conference. What this ultimately does is leaves no doubt who the conference champion should be at the end of the season. However, as we reach the midpoint of the college football season has this schedule caused the Big 12 to be on the outside looking in when it comes to the college playoff?
As the national media starts to predict who they believe the committee will select there is one constant theme, no Big 12 schools. The question is why. Well the answer may be simpler than most think. From top to bottom the Big 12 conference is competitive. Even Iowa State, who is currently 2-5, played Kansas State and Texas tough while hanging with Oklahoma State into the second half. The Big 12 does not have the luxury of the Vanderbilt’s, Tennessee’s or the Arkansas’s. Nor do they have the luxury of a Syracuse or Wake Forest, ok maybe Kansas is the Big 12 version of Wake Forest.
So even though no one is predicting a Big 12 school to make the playoffs is there one that could make a second half run to sneak in?
Baylor – The Bears are currently sitting at 6-1 overall and 3-1 with the conference. With games remaining against Oklahoma and Kansas St running the table would put Baylor back in the Top 10 nationally and possibly considered one of the “deserving”. OR, has Tony Gibson finally given the nation the blueprint on how to stop the Bears high powered offense? One last problem for Baylor, they do not control their own destiny in the conference at the moment. They need help to take the title.
Oklahoma St. – The Cowboys made some noise early in the season by hanging with the defending national champion Seminoles. Currently sitting at 5-2 overall and 3-1 in conference OSU is coming off a shelling at the hands of TCU. Whether that loss takes them out of the running is uncertain. The Cowboys have a daunting schedule remaining playing WVU this weekend with Kansas St, Baylor, Texas, and Oklahoma still left. The Cowboys are sliding at the wrong time. But running the table with this schedule would definitely put the Cowboys back on top. The question is did the FSU loss and the beatdown at the hands of TCU already disqualify them from contention?
West Virginia – The Mountaineers are coming off a signature win over Baylor this past weekend that has caused the nation to buzz about Kevin White, Clint Trickett, and yes the WVU defense. Sitting at 5-2 overall and 3-1 in conference the two early season loses to Alabama and Oklahoma may have taken the Mountaineers out of the running for the playoff. However, WVU does control their own destiny for the Big 12 championship. With remaining games against conference leaders TCU and Kansas St, both at home, the Mountaineers have the opportunity to make a BCS bowl game. Whether they are deserving of a playoff invite would depend on whether a 10-2 final record and wins over TCU, Baylor, and Kansas St would be enough of a resume builder.
Kansas St. – The Wildcats currently sit alone atop the Big 12 at 3-0 in the conference and 5-1 overall. The Wildcats may have the best chance at making the playoffs as, just like Oklahoma St, they have plenty of marquee games remaining to prove their worth. Kansas St still has WVU, TCU, and Baylor remaining. Running the table in the conference would give the Wildcats an 11-1 overall record with their sole loss to Auburn. If KSU could pull that off there should be no doubt they would be a contender for the playoff.
Here is a kicker though, WVU’s win over Baylor and Kansas St’s win over Oklahoma actually helped strengthen the schedules of two teams currently ranked above them the in the rankings. It just so happen these two teams are in the SEC and in the mix for the playoff, Alabama and Auburn. With TCU’s win over 6-1 Minnesota possibly being the biggest OOC win for the Big 12 this season it may be hard to justify the conference strength. Loses to Alabama, Florida St, and Auburn hurt the conference. Not saying this is a “done deal” but the conference definitely needs some future upsets to help their case.