West Virginia

Simon: How The Big 12 Can Get Into The College Football Playoff


Can the Big 12 season be saved? Don’t jump off the ledge yet – there’s still hope for the College Football Playoff.


How to save the Big 12 and get it into the College Football Playoff

No teams ranked in the AP Top 15 for the first time in conference history and only one victory over an AP Top 25 team – welcome to the current state of the Big 12 Conference.

How does the old saying go, “it’s always darkest before the dawn?”

Let’s hope that is the case as the conference couldn’t be much more defeated than it is at this moment. The big question, can the Big 12 recover?

September could have been such a great month with games against Stanford, Houston, Notre Dame, and Ohio State putting the conference in the spotlight every week. Unfortunately, other than Texas’ opening weekend win over Notre Dame – and maybe the West Virginia win over Mizzou – the conference failed.

There are still five weeks before the first College Playoff Rankings – the only ones that matter once they’re released – and as crazy as it sounds, there’s still time to make a run at one of those four coveted spots.

It’s still possible. You want hope, Big 12 fans? Here you go.

Baylor is still unbeaten

Of course, there’s a reason for that, playing a miserable schedule without any tests whatsoever

Even so, the Bears are in the best position right now being the highest-ranked team within the conference. Starting the season ranked No. 23 and going 3-0 through their non-conference schedule has helped, even though, again, they’ve played absolutely no one.

While the Bears have yet to face a team who will be bowl eligible by the end of the season, go 12-0, and none of that will matter.

It all starts with a Week 4 showdown against Oklahoma State. Do that, and it should set up a marquee matchup on October 29th against the Longhorns in Austin that’ll generate the national attention the league needs.

Oklahoma State

The Cowboys lost to Central Michigan – there’s no spin in the record books – and barely escaping Pitt at home didn’t help the cause. However, sitting right outside the AP Top 25, a win this weekend at Baylor would propel them back into the rankings and would set up a big October 1st matchup against Texas.

The schedule is set up nicely for their loss to CMU to be forgotten. If they can get through the next two weeks unscathed, the middle of their season is winnable with games against Kansas, Iowa State, West Virginia, Texas Tech, and Kansas State.

Their final two games of the season are both on the road against TCU and the finale against Oklahoma. Get to Norman 10-1 and defeat the Sooners they should be all but guaranteed a spot in the College Playoff.

Do that, and then let the media spin Central Michigan.

Texas

After their opening weekend win over Notre Dame, the Longhorns looked to be the Big 12 team to beat. One loss to Cal later, and that all changes – for now.

However, much like Oklahoma State, that loss can be forgotten and blown off by continuing to win.

After a week 4 by, the Longhorns waste no time going after the top dogs in the Big 12, travelling to Stillwater to face Oklahoma State on October 1st before diving into the Red River Rivalry the following week.

Going 2-0 through their first two Big 12 games would undoubtedly put them in the drivers seat just before squishy-soft middle of the slate. Outside of a gag, the October 29th game at home against Baylor would be the only remaining foreseeable obstacle to an 11-1 season.

And whether justified or not, Notre Dame will sneak back into the Top 25 with its next three games Duke, Syracuse, and NC State. The better Notre Dame plays, obviously, the better it reflects upon Texas.

TCU 

Sitting just seven votes behind Oklahoma at No. 26 in the AP Poll, the Horned Frogs could potentially jump an idle Oklahoma back into the top 25.

TCU must beat a wounded Sooner team on October 1st to stay in contention, and then get on a roll with games at Kansas and West Virginia  following TCU. The Horned Frogs could return home October 29th against Texas Tech 6-1 and on a roll. Baylor, Oklahoma State, and Baylor lie in wait after Texas Tech.

Much like Oklahoma State, that early season loss could be forgotten if TCU could run the table.

Let the media spin the throat slash.

Oklahoma

As unfair as it is to say, the Sooners can do nothing but hurt the Big 12 the rest of the season.

With two bad losses the Sooners playoff hopes have died. Winning the Big 12 conference title would guarantee the league is out of the fun – the CFP won’t take a 10-2 Big 12 team.

West Virginia could end its non-conference slate 3-0 with wins over Missouri and BYU on the resume. It’s this simple – run the table, get into the College Football Playoff.

But even an 11-1 Big 12 champion Mountaineer team would be in the hunt if that one loss is a close call against one of the league’s big boys. Unlike Baylor and its embarrassment of a non-conference slate, the CFP will give credit to at least playing Mizzou and BYU, no matter where those two end up.

Kansas State’s loss to Stanford ended all hopes without running the table the rest of the way. However, this might be the most acceptable loss of the bunch. If the Cardinal roll on and win the Pac-12 title, an 11-1 Kansas State would be deep in the discussion.

The same can be said for Texas Tech, whose loss to Arizona State severely hindered its chance, but isn’t all that bad compared to losing at home to a MAC team. Win out, and 11-1 might just get it done – there will be at least one multi-loss Power 5 champion team this year. There just has to be – we’re overdue for it.

Of all Big 12 teams, Texas and Oklahoma State have the best chances to make runs for a CFP spot. While Baylor sits at 3-0 the toughest part of its schedule awaits in November. Losses in November, especially to potentially lower ranked opponents, is unrecoverable considering there’s no conference title game.

So get off the ledge – all is not lost, and the Big 12 is still well within striking distance of a spot in the fun.

Get table running, someone. Win out, you One True Champion.