Updating the Big 12 Conference Race, and Why Four Teams Are Still Alive

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Updating the Big 12 Conference Race, and Why Four Teams Are Still Alive
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The biggest game of the year in the Big 12 will take place this Saturday in Stillwater when Baylor travels to Oklahoma State for a top-10 matchup. ESPN's College GameDay will be there, and both conference title and BCS title implications will be high. 

The winner will have a leg up in the race for a BCS bowl berth, but the exciting part is that the Big 12 will be anything but decided after Week 13. Texas is still alive in the event that things get, you know, weird. Also, Oklahoma is still eligible for a share of the conference title. 

Here's how the conference championship race breaks down with three weeks left to go in the season. 

Big 12 standings as of 11/18
Team Overall Record Big 12 Record Games Left
Baylor 9-0 6-0 @ OSU, @ TCU, UT
Oklahoma State 9-1 6-1 BU, OU
Texas 7-3 6-1 TTU, @BU
Oklahoma 8-2 5-2 @ KSU, @ OSU

Big 12 Sports

 

Baylor

Toughest Game: Nov. 23 at Oklahoma State

 

Outlook: Just win, baby. It's that simple. The Bears have been the best team in the Big 12 the entire year, beating conference opponents by an average of 35 points. This group's toughest test awaits on Saturday, though Baylor began as a 9.5-point favorite over the Cowboys according to VegasInsider

If Baylor can survive Week 13, it should be in good shape with remaining games against TCU and Texas. The game against the Frogs will be in Fort Worth, and TCU's defense can be problematic. The Bears have to avoid a letdown regardless of whether they win or lose against Oklahoma State.

If Baylor loses to the Cowboys, it would need for Oklahoma State to lose to Oklahoma the following week. Additionally, Baylor would have to win out. 

 

Oklahoma State

Toughest game: Nov. 23 vs. Baylor

 

Outlook: [copy/paste "Just win, baby."] Oklahoma State's loss to West Virginia in September may hurt its national title hopes—should college football be turned upside down over the next few weeks, that is—but it has no bearing on the conference championship race. As long as the Pokes win their last two games, they will hold the tiebreaker over Baylor. 

Otherwise, things get more convoluted if the Cowboys lose on Saturday. There are a variety of different tiebreaker scenarios that would have to be played out over the coming weeks. For instance, a three-way tie with Baylor and Texas, with all teams sitting at 7-2 in conference play, would eventually go to the Bears. A three-way tie with Texas and Oklahoma, though, would go to the Pokes. 

As a reference, here are the tiebreaker rules from the Dallas Morning News: 

1. The records of the three teams will be compared against each other (head-to-head competition).

2. The records of the three teams will be compared against the next-highest placed teams in the conference in order of finish (four, five and six).

3. The highest-ranked team in the first Bowl Championship Series poll following completion of Big 12 regular-season conference play shall be the BCS representative, unless two of the tied teams are ranked within one spot of the other in the BCS poll. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top-two ranked tied teams shall determine the representative in the BCS.

4. The representative will be chosen by draw.

 

Texas

Toughest game: Dec. 7 at Baylor

 

Outlook: Texas no longer controls its Big 12 destiny, but it's not out of the race just yet. The Longhorns can still win the conference outright if they beat Texas Tech and Baylor, and the Cowboys finish with two conference losses. 

Texas can also win a share of the Big 12 in a tiebreaker scenario but would not receive the BCS berth. 

 

Oklahoma

Toughest game: Dec. 7 at Oklahoma State

 

Outlook: The Sooners can only win a share of the Big 12 at this point. For this to happen, Oklahoma needs to win out and have Baylor lose the rest of its games. Additionally, it would need Texas to lose to Texas Tech to force a three-way tie with the 'Horns and Oklahoma State. However, that scenario would benefit Oklahoma State because of Step 2 of the tiebreaker rules since the Cowboys would have defeated Baylor, Kansas State and Texas Tech. 

 

Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow him on Twitter @BenKercheval

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