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Big 12 Football: Four true champions

The college football playoff committee released its first rankings on Tuesday. The Big 12 was a bit slighted, but as long as the top teams keep winning, everything should sort itself out.

But what about the scenario where the Big 12 beats up on each other? Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State made it through October unscathed and Oklahoma finds remains in the discussion with its only loss coming at the hands of an upset by Texas. But as the calendar turns to November, each team has a gantlet to go through that features top competition and zero bye weeks.

So how about this for an unlikely, but very possible, scenario?

Week 10:

This week starts early for the Big 12 as Baylor plays at Kansas State on Thursday night. The Wildcats have yet to win a Big 12 game, but were close to beating Oklahoma State earlier this year. In a classic ‘wacky Thursday night game’, Bill Snyder works his magic and Kansas State upsets Baylor in Jarrett Stidham’s first start for the Bears.

The wild card in all of this is Oklahoma State, who has a tough yet favorable schedule, with only one road game – 3-5 Iowa State. The Cowboys can throw a thorn in the side of the Big 12’s playoff chances with their three home games coming against the upper-echelon in the conference: TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma.

For a moment, it looks like more magic for Trevone Boykin as he leads his team down the field for a 49-45 lead with 2:14 to go. Mason Rudolph responds with a late touchdown to reigning Big 12 offensive player of the week James Washington. Oklahoma State wins 52-49 over TCU.

In a less competitive game, Oklahoma beats Iowa State, leaving Oklahoma State all alone in first of the Big 12 followed by a three-way tie for second – for the moment.

Week 11:

The big matchup of the week is Oklahoma (8-1, 5-1) against Baylor (7-1, 4-1). Baylor has won three of the past four meetings with Oklahoma, and has won the past two by an average of 31.5 points per game. Baker Mayfield keeps it close, but the Baylor defense comes up big with a late stop. The Bears bounce back at home and win 42-35.

TCU and Oklahoma State defeat Kansas and Iowa State, respectively in their games to round out the week.

Big 12 Standings Conference Record Overall Record
Oklahoma State Cowboys 7-0 10-0
TCU Horned Frogs 6-1 9-1
Baylor Bears 5-1 8-1
Oklahoma Sooners 5-2 8-2

Week 12:

Oklahoma State is riding high at 10-0 and 7-0 in the Big 12. They can almost taste the college football playoff, but with Jarrett Stidham gaining more experience, Baylor comes into Stillwater and defeats Oklahoma State. Spencer Drango, one of the best offensive lineman in the country, plays a huge role for the Bears in blocking Cowboy’s star rusher Emmanuel Ogbah.

Meanwhile, Oklahoma has a showdown with TCU in Norman. The Sooners ability to tackle in the open field better than most, if not all Big 12 teams, pays off, and Oklahoma hold the Horned Frogs to 38 points, well below their season average. Samaje Perine has a big game and Baker Mayfield to Sterling Shepard becomes a pattern on big plays as Oklahoma knocks off TCU 45-38.

Big 12 Standings Conference Record Overall Record
Oklahoma State Cowboys 7-1 10-1
Baylor Bears 6-1 9-1
Oklahoma Sooners 6-2 9-2
TCU Horned Frogs 6-2 9-2

 

Week 13:

In what is the final week of the regular season for all four teams except Baylor, Oklahoma State hosts Oklahoma and TCU plays Baylor in Fort Worth. In 2014, Baylor came back from down three touchdowns in the final 11 minutes to win 61-58. Oklahoma State won off a comeback that was smaller, but just as unlikely: Former Cowboys speedster Tyreek Hill returned a punt 92 yards with 45 seconds left to send the game into overtime. The Cowboys finished off the Sooners in overtime, spoiling Oklahoma’s senior day.

In the 2015 version, both the Horned Frogs and Sooners play with a chip on their shoulder. TCU defeats Baylor 59-49 in Trevone Boykin’s final home game as he racks up over 500 total yards of offense. Meanwhile, Oklahoma wins Bedlam and beats the Cowboys 38-30.

In week 14, Baylor – the only team of the four to play – handles Texas, putting all four teams in a four-way tie at the top of the Big 12 at 7-2 in conference in 10-2 overall.

Who would be the official Big 12 champion is such scenario?

This is where things get complicated. According to the Big 12’s tiebreaker rules, when three or more teams are tied, the “conference records of the three or more teams will be compared against each other”. This is a fancy way of saying that the team’s records amongst the others tied with them are to be compared. In this scenario, Oklahoma and Baylor each went 2-1 against the other three teams, while TCU and Oklahoma State went 1-2. The tiebreaker rules also note that “once a team has been eliminated from a multi-team comparison, it is dropped from further comparisons. If only two teams remain tied after any step, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the Champion.” By this measure, TCU and Oklahoma State would be eliminated and Baylor’s victory over Oklahoma would win them the Big 12.big12logo

If this crazy situation does end up happening, the Big 12 will likely be left out of the college football playoff for a second straight year. All four of the teams listed above are good enough to run through November with one or zero losses, but as crazy as college football is, nothing can be ruled out. And a similar situation like this one could happen with different combinations of teams winning. Nonetheless, this is the week that the Big 12 either begins to make its mark on the committee or starts to beat itself up.