It’s been a rough first few weeks of the season for the Big 12. How can it recover in time to make a run for the playoff?
If ever a conference needed one great, big, gigantic weekend, this would be it.
It’s just two weeks into the 2016 college football season and already the Big 12 has issues.
An opening weekend loss by Oklahoma to Houston, followed by losses from TCU and Oklahoma State, already have the conference on the outside looking in when it comes to most College Football Playoff projections, but there’s still room for the conference to redeem itself.
Will be a season long recovery that could still derail. How did the Big 12 get to this point so quickly?
Oklahoma was favored by many to be the Big 12’s representative in the College Playoff, but now it’s playing for its life against Ohio State. Lose, and the season might really be effectively over.
And this is significant.
With two losses to Top 25 teams, Oklahoma would immediately lose its luster as a marquee win in conference play, at least on a national scale.
The Big 12 needs conference games of national importance other than Oklahoma vs Texas. But that’s going to be tough.
While Baylor remains undefeated, a weak non-conference schedule and a 6-6 halftime score against SMU have evoked little more than a yawn. It doesn’t help that Baylor and Kansas are the only Big 12 schools to not play a non-conference Power 5 school this season.
The Oklahoma State loss to Central Michigan has much deeper implications than most realize. Even if the Cowboys are able to beat an unranked Pitt at home in week 3, they’ll unlikely break the Top 25 again without a few massive wins.
Obviously, Oklahoma State lost some of it’s appeal as a quality opponent with the loss to a MAC team. College football is unforgiving, and no matter the circumstances surrounding the loss, it will hurt both the Cowboys and the Big 12 for the rest of the season.
After starting the season ranked No. 13 in the AP Top 25, TCU also fallen from the rankings after losing to Arkansas in double overtime. Now, with games against Iowa State and SMU pending, the Frogs will be halfway through their season before facing another formidable opponent. Unfortunately that may be an unranked Oklahoma team if things go wrong over the next few weeks.
Texas looks to be the only glimmer of hope right now, with the possibility of the opening weekend win over Notre Dame and a win this week over Cal making the Longhorns the only Big 12 team to have two Power 5 wins entering conference play.
And then there’s West Virginia, – who joins Baylor and Texas only other 2-0 team in the Big 12.
And while it could enter conference play with two quality wins including Missouri and BYU, its schedule doesn’t include a Top 25 opponent until mid-November – at least according to the current rankings.
Being currently unranked, and not even receiving any AP Top 25 votes, the respect just isn’t there.
Going into a pivotal Week 3, whether it’s fair or not, the success of the Big 12 rests purely on the shoulders of Oklahoma and Texas.
Both schools have the ability to revive the conference starting this weekend with games against Ohio State and Cal, respectively. Win those two, and everything changes.
All it takes is one team to go unbeaten to get into the playoff, or an 11-1 team that goes off. All the Big 12 needs is one program to rise up and rock.
But to start, all it needs is one big weekend.