With the Thanksgiving next Thursday and no Texas game this weekend, expect just one email next week. Looks for the TCU preview on Tuesday!
It’s the off week for Texas (and TCU, but someone else can write about them) but there is still a lot going on in the Big 12. Let’s take a look at the likely scenarios for winning the Big 12 and, for a few, getting into the first-ever 4-team playoff. Could TCU get in over Baylor? What about the Bears getting in? What about both of them getting in? All three of those things could potentially happen. Of course the opposite is true as well and none of that could happen, meaning the Big 12 is left out. Let’s dive in, the water’s great.
The Big 12 Title Race
Only three teams can realistically win the Big 12 as the rest have all been eliminated. Almost. Those three are Baylor, TCU and Kansas State. Yes, the Wildcats are very much alive in the Big 12 Championship race. Here’s the outlook for all three, and one little mind-blowing nugget as a wild card:
Baylor: Win out. The Bears have three games left: home against Oklahoma State on Saturday, a date with Tech at Cowboys Stadium in Dallas and the season finale at home against Kansas State. Baylor should cruise into December 6th with double-digit wins over both Tech and OSU and will likely be a sizable favorite in that final game. Baylor has lost only once this year, on the road at West Virginia, and they do not play on the road (the game in Dallas is a neutral site) again this season. K-State is going to be a tough game, but you have to like Baylor’s chances at home.
TCU: Win out and a Baylor loss. The Frogs travel to Texas on Thanksgiving and then have their season finale against Iowa State at home. They nearly exploded the conference last week at Kansas, but both TCU and KU remembered who they were in the final minutes and TCU pulled it out. They are 7-point favorites against Texas right now and will be at least three times that against Iowa State. Assume for argument’s sake they win both, they need Baylor to drop at least one game. A loss, most likely to come against K-State on December 6th, would put Baylor at least one game behind TCU (should they win out). If Kansas State were to win out and both purples finished 8-1 in the Big 12, TCU wins the tiebreaker with the head-to-head stomping, making them Big 12 Champions.
Kansas State: Win out and a TCU loss. Midwest Purple has three games left: on the road against West Virginia on Thursday, home against Kansas and on the road at Baylor to close it out. You can pencil in the win against KU and the Mountaineers are a completely different team on the road as opposed to being at home, so this one will be a big test. Still, I think K-State can win that game. Will they? No idea (more on that later). Again, for argument’s sake, assume they win out and beat Baylor. They need Texas (or Iowa State, so Texas) to knock off TCU since they lose the head-to-head matchup against the Frogs. If that were to happen to TCU (I mean WHEN that happens to TCU), a winning-out Kansas State is the Big 12 Champions.
Most likely to happen: Baylor wins the Big 12. I don’t see them losing and if they win, it doesn’t matter if (when) TCU loses to Texas or not because Baylor winning means they beat K-State in the process.
Most unlikely to happen: K-State wins the Big 12. A Texas upset and a K-State upset seem unlikely. Only one of those things will happen. But that’s for next week…
Almost 100% will not happen: Texas wins a share of the Big 12 Title. Follow me down the rabbit hole… Texas beats TCU and TCU drops the finale to Iowa State. Either Baylor or K-State loses out, dropping to 5-4, and the other wins only their head-to-head, making them 6-3. As many as five teams could be 6-3, which would be a mess. A lovely mess as Texas would be co-winners of the conference. They wouldn’t advance, as a three-way tie with K-State, TCU and Texas would go to the tiebreaker, which is the highest ranked team. Still, a piece… But don’t concern yourself with any of that, because it will not happen.
My prediction: Baylor wins their second straight Big 12 Title.
The National Title Race
So let me get this straight, Paul Finebaum: The Big 12 should be excluded from the final four because there is no title game in this conference, but it’s perfectly fine to include an SEC West team that won’t even be able to play in their conference title game? That’s just dumb. Hold no conference title against one league, but reward another one with a second spot for a team that didn’t win it’s own division. DUMB. Also dumb, the defending national champions, undefeated national champions, being No.3. They aren’t winning any popularity contests, but they aren’t losing any games, either. The good news is we still have plenty of football left to sort it out. Let’s assume two are locks to get in the final four to play out the Big 12 scenario: Florida State and the SEC Champions, who we will say is Alabama right now. That leaves two spots open (maybe just one). Does the Big 12 get one? Let’s see how this would go:
TCU: TCU wins out, Baylor loses to K-State, Mississippi State loses to Ole Miss.
The Frogs win out and K-State upsets Baylor in the season finale, eliminating all doubt. I think if that were to happen, the one-loss Big 12 Champion TCU would jump Mississippi State (who is No.4 right now) regardless of how they finish their year. I am hoping that wiser and more rational people on the committee understand that TCU is more deserving since they won their league and Mississippi State didn’t even win their division. But with all the SEC groupies on ESPN and in the media, a loss by Hail State to Ole Miss in the Egg Bowl would knock them out entirely.
I’m sticking to my original line of thinking that TCU needs more help to get in than Baylor, because if Baylor is being ignored due to the lack of a Big 12 Title Game, I assume the second place team in the same conference is even more shaky.
Baylor: Baylor wins out, Kansas State beats West Virginia, the committee comes to their senses. Texas upsets TCU and Baylor steamrolls everyone, including K-State. One thing everyone is overlooking is Baylor’s win over K-State would be a quality win, especially if the beat West Virginia. Texas is a power in name only at this point, so TCU beating a 6-5 Texas team will not carry the same weight as Baylor knocking around a (potentially) 9-2, top 10 K-State team the final week of the season. Baylor needs to completely dominate their last three games and they need K-State to win this week.
I think if Baylor wins out, convincingly, the committee will reward them with one of the spots.
Neither one gets in: Kansas State wins the Big 12, the committee falls in love with Ohio State, or SEC love. Texas win over TCU, a K-State win over Baylor ends any hope. If K-State wins the Big 12, it means none of us go to the final four.
Of course, even if TCU and Baylor both win they could still be left out. If Ohio State wins out (over Indiana, Michigan and likely Wisconsin in the Big Ten Title Game) and Baylor, TCU and Mississippi State struggle, they could jump them all. The committee seems to be enamored with conference title games, and if Ohio State wins the Big Ten Championship and finishes 12-1, they could easily jump an underwhelming Baylor/TCU with no title game and a Cow Bells team shut out of the SEC Title Game. Oregon, Florida State and Alabama winning out leaves only one spot and, all things considered, a Big Ten-winning Ohio State team might look better than a middling Big 12 team that looked less-than-wow down the stretch.
And don’t forget how much everyone loves the SEC. If Mississippi State hammers Ole Miss, there is more than a fair chance they just award them a spot right there. That’s my biggest concern. If Ohio State gets in, they earned it. If Mississippi State gets in, the Finebaums have won.
Both get in: It’s going off the rails on the crazy train. Everyone above them has lost: Alabama is upset by Auburn in the Iron Bowl, Georgia wins the SEC Championship Game, Florida State gets beaten Georgia Tech in the ACC Championship, Wisconsin beats Ohio State, UCLA wins out and beats Oregon for the Pac-12 Title… Off-the-rails chaos. Both TCU and Baylor winning out would get them in. In fact, if they win out and even a few of those things happen it could get them in.
It’s the most unlikely scenario of them all, but not completely out of the question. It’s definitely more likely than the Texas-wins-a-piece-of-the-Big 12, but for them both to get there, chaos needs to happen.
My prediction: Baylor gets in. A little bit of chaos ensues, but nothing cataclysmic. I think Florida State loses, either to Florida or Georgia Tech, and Mississippi State struggles with Ole Miss enough to knock them out of the running as Baylor ramps it up down the stretch. Alabama rolls in as the No.1 seed, the Oregon Ducks roll in as the No.2 seed and Ohio State and Baylor round out the final four. All four are conference champions and it is the way it should be.
That’s just me. Tell your thoughts?
This Week in the Big 12
No.7 TCU (9-1/6-1) BYE
TEXAS (6-5/5-3) BYE
Thursday, November 20th
No.12 KANSAS STATE (7-2/5-1) @ WEST VIRGINIA (6-4/4-3) 6 pm Fox Sports 1
K-State was manhandled by TCU and their up-tempo offense and it’s a similar offense at West Virginia. But without a good offensive line. I think K-State beats up Clint Trickett and forces a few turnovers. Still, I think the Neers will move the ball well and score some points. This will look a lot like the TCU game for West Virginia: they will have a lead and lose it as d K-State capitalizes on mistakes and win a close one late, keeping their Big 12 hopes alive and Baylor’s final four hopes alive.
Saturday, November 22nd
OKLAHOMA STATE (5-5/3-4) @ No.7 BAYLOR (8-1/5-1) 6:30 pm FOX
I think Baylor opens up an entire can on Oklahoma State, who seems to have completely thrown in the towel this season. They looked (and sounded) pretty listless last week both during and after the Texas game, and Baylor knows they need some 2008 ou-running-it-up media attention to climb the rankings. That’s exactly what happens. Baylor absolutely destroys a Cowboys team with one foot already in the off-season (and a coach with one foot out the door?) and the other right behind it. A statement game.
KANSAS (3-7/1-6) @ No.21 oklahoma (7-3/4-3) 11 am Fox Sports 1
Bachelor Party in Houston this weekend! Anyone going to the Mavericks/Rockets game on Saturday night? We will be there!
TEXAS TECH (3-7/1-6) @ IOWA STATE (2-7/0-6)
Loser gets fired. Winner gets fired next week. I kid, I kid… Seriously, KK, get your resume together, because I think this thing is over.
Back on Tuesday with the TCU preview and thoughts from the weekend.