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HCS Op-Ed: The Big 12 Must Crack the CFB Playoff

When it comes to getting a chance, or having success in the National Title game, the Big 12 Conference has not had the best run of luck the last few seasons.

It has been five years since Texas was in its second National Championship game in a span of just five seasons, winning it in 2005 beating USC in the Rose Bowl, which remains the last time a Big 12 team has won it all.

Before them, it was Oklahoma in 2008, when there was a log jam of top-notch teams in the Big 12, made it to the National Championship, but fell to Florida.

With that in mind, the Big 12 has been represented in the National Championship game three times in the last nine years, winning it just once; the other two times falling to Alabama and Florida, as part of the SEC’s string of seven-straight Championships.

But, this was back when all we had to rely on was a computer and the BCS Rankings to determine who the best two teams in the country were.

Now with the new College Football Playoff, where four teams will get a shot at playing for a National Championship in bracket-style play, there is a chance the Big 12 could get back to playing for a title.

With the strength of the Big 12, surely one team gets in, right? I mean that’s what everyone’s thinking was. It would be the SEC, Pac-12, Big 10 and Big 12 could possibly all have one team in the Top four at season’s end … and maybe Florida State from the ACC.

With just a few weeks remaining, the Big 12’s hopes lie with No. 5 TCU and No. 7 Baylor. The SEC has two kids in the party with Alabama and Mississippi State at No. 1 and No.4, respectively, and defending National Champion Florida State is No. 3, with Oregon at No.2.

Let’s take a moment and reflect on the history of the Big 12, especially at this time of the year.

 

Playing the Upset Card

No win in the Big 12 is easy, whether it be at home or especially on the road, once November rolls around.

In 2008, No. 1 Texas went to Lubbock looking to keep rolling to a National Championship Game.

But then-No. 7 Texas Tech crashed the party with arguably the biggest win in program history beating the Longhorns on the famed Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree catch with just seconds left.

Colt McCoy and the rest of the Longhorns sideline was stunned and knew their title hopes were gone.

On the other hand, Oklahoma was able to survive the gauntlet of the Big 12 and get to the National Championship game, but then fell to Florida.

The Sooners had another chance to get back in 2010 going 10-2 in the regular season, but falling to No. 18 Mizzou and then unranked Texas A&M did them in.

The 2011 season was probably the best example of hurting one’s own chances.

Oklahoma State was on fire, until they had a stop in Ames, Iowa. The Cyclones, unranked at the time, would eventually beat the Cowboys a 37-31 loss in double overtime, ending their hopes of getting to the National Championship Game.

The same goes for Kansas State in 2012. The Wildcats were ranked No. 1 in Week 12 of the season, were 4-0 against the Top 25 but then loss to an unranked Baylor team 52-24.

Fast forward another year, replace Kansas State with Baylor and it turns out being the same situation. The Bears only loss in the regular season was a 49-17 beat down by then No. 11 Oklahoma State.

If the College Football Playoff system had been in place, maybe Baylor, Oklahoma State and Kansas State would have had a chance to at least make the playoff. But no playoff, and a one-loss team was virtually knocked out.

But not anymore, there is still a chance now with one loss on the resume.

 

Big 12’s Chances Now in College Football Playoff Era

So here we go, TCU has two games left, while Baylor has three, including this weekend against Oklahoma State, while the Horned Frogs are off.

Baylor has the most work to do, considering its weak non-conference schedule and whom they have left on the schedule.

The Bears face two unranked opponents in the final three games, Oklahoma State, which has lost four-straight and Texas Tech, which is 1-7 since starting 2-0.

Baylor has to blow the roofs off both games. Wining big is important because both teams have struggled. Oklahoma State is 0-4 against the Top 25 this year, while Texas Tech is 0-2.

The lone chance for Baylor is if they can whip up on the Cowboys and Red Raiders and then get a hold of top-15 Kansas State.

The Wildcats are coming off a 26-20 win against West Virginia in Morgantown, which is a big win and hard place to play, which the voters will take note of.

If the Bears can get to that game and then handle the Wildcats, they have an outside shot if some teams in the Top 4 fall between now and then.

Now for #5 TCU, they are the Big 12’s best chance at getting into the first College Football Playoff.

The Horned Frogs are 4-1 against the Top 25 this season, and their only loss was 61-58 to Baylor, which was No. 5 at the time. The good thing for TCU is that Baylor is still ranked in the Top 10, making that loss not look as bad.

TCU has two games left, which gives them limited performances to show off to the committee. The Horned Frogs play the Longhorns on Thanksgiving in Austin.

TCU is coming off a 34-30 win against Kansas, which did hurt them considering how bad the Jayhawks have been the last few years. But the Longhorns are on the rise.

Winners of three-straight, including a 33-16 beating of then-No. 23 West Virginia, a road win against Texas Tech and blowing out Oklahoma State away from home.

For TCU, they need to walk into Austin and blow the hinges off Darrell K Royal Memorial Stadium and stuff the Longhorns like a Thanksgiving Turkey. It is going to take a big win against Texas because their final game is against Iowa State, which has been sub-par this season.

But Texas could play spoiler. If the Longhorns win, that would knock TCU out of contention for a spot in the College Football Playoff, meaning the Big 12 having a team in in the inaugural year would become nearly impossible.

But, as of now, the Big 12 has a chance.

With the right combination of events the purple flag of TCU or green and gold of Baylor could be flying high as a part of the first College Football Playoff.

No Big 12 Championship? No problem, we will give the college football world “one true champion” and whichever team it is should be, and needs to be, in the College Football Playoff.

The Big 12 is the only major conference where everyone plays each other during the season. The SEC, Pac-12 and Big 10 cannot say that.

We all love upsets, but maybe for the first time we need to cheer for TCU and Baylor to do work and hang some points on the board and get the Big 12 back to the promised land – playing for a National Championship.

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