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Big 12 Football: Conference Championship Game Scenarios

As this parity-driven conference continues to produce thrilling games, the Big 12 title race is becoming more heated.

There are still six teams left with two or fewer conference losses, and only once has a team gone 7-2 and missed the Big 12 Championship Game since the Big 12 went to this format.

So, here are scenarios on how all six of the teams with two losses or left can make it to Arlington, plus a chaos scenario.

 

TCU Horned Frogs

TCU definitely has the clearest path to the Big 12 title game, sitting undefeated with tiebreakers over both Oklahoma State and Kansas State. However, the Frogs do have some hurdles in their way as they still have trips to Morgantown, Waco, and Austin, plus home games with Texas Tech and Iowa State. There should be some concerns amongst TCU fans that the bye week and ten straight games after that, could begin to wear on TCU. While their focus right now is likely on going undefeated and making the Playoff, there’s still plenty to play for if that doesn’t happen.

While TCU’s best hope is to win out or just take one loss, there still is a path for them to get in with two losses. If they lose two but avoid losses to Texas, and the winner of Baylor and TCU this week, with the tiebreakers they’d still be guaranteed a place. Another scenario is even if one of those losses comes to those teams, the team that beats them also loses one more game. What would also help a two-loss TCU get in is if the winner of Oklahoma and Kansas State this week drops another game this season. Overall while an unbeaten or one-loss TCU is guaranteed to make the Big 12 Championship, even a two-loss TCU would be likely to get in.

 

Oklahoma State Cowboys

After their win over Texas last week Oklahoma State still sits in a good position to make the Big 12 Championship. But this week against Kansas State will be crucial to those hopes, both teams sit at 3-1 in conference play with a loss to top-ranked TCU. 

Oklahoma State has already secured tiebreakers over two-loss teams such as Baylor, Texas, and Texas Tech, so with a win over Kansas State they’re guaranteed to make the Big 12 Championship if they get through their last four with just one additional loss. However, if they drop that game their best-remaining bet would be for Kansas State to drop a game. Looking at Kansas State’s schedule it’s very feasible, they still host Texas, go to Waco and Morgantown, then finish with their rivalry against Kansas. So in summary, beat Kansas State and go 3-1 the rest of the way, or lose to Kansas State, go 4-0 and have Kansas State drop one.

Kansas State Wildcats

Boy when Kansas State was up 28-10 in Fort Worth, it sure looked like they’d be back in the Metroplex in December, but hope is far from lost for the Cats. With a matchup at home against Oklahoma State this week it sure gets more difficult. It’s especially difficult when you consider they still have Texas, and Baylor after that. If they can get the win over Oklahoma State, they’ll be in the driver’s seat for that second Big 12 title berth. However, even a loss doesn’t quite doom them.

The most likely way Kansas State gets in is certainly dependent on a win against Oklahoma State. Kansas State is one of three teams in the Big 12 controlling their own destiny, and with wins over Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor, they could actually drop a game to either West Virginia or Kansas, and not need any help to get in. The perfect scenario for Kansas State this week is to win themselves, and then have Texas Tech beat Baylor. If that happens all they would need is a win over Texas, and to win two of the other three left on their schedule to be in. If Kansas State does lose to Oklahoma State that path gets extremely difficult, first they’d need to win out and that’s the easy part. The difficult part is they’d need either TCU to drop three games, or Oklahoma State to drop two games. It feels crazy to say but TCU dropping three may be more likely, they host Texas Tech next week and still go to Texas and Baylor. There’s also a banana peel in Morgantown and a season finale against an Iowa State team that could be fighting for a bowl berth. For Oklahoma State, losing two is tougher to see, they’d only have four games left and sure there’s that trip to Norman. Home games to Iowa State and West Virginia should be two wins, and Kansas State could be relying on Kansas beating the Pokes at home to make the Big 12 title.

 

Texas Longhorns

Saturday’s loss to Oklahoma State cost Texas their chance to control their own destiny in the Big 12 title race, but there are still plenty of opportunities for them to get to Arlington. It’s likely been a long bye week for Texas fans, who would love to move on from last week’s loss sooner rather than later. Texas no longer holds the tiebreaker with Oklahoma State, and a loss to Texas Tech that didn’t look at the time that it’d factor into tiebreakers may just come back to bite them too.

First Texas must finish 4-0, which includes road wins to Kansas and Kansas State, and home wins over Baylor and TCU. That looks difficult but doable, the next part is they need help, which comes in either TCU dropping a game elsewhere or Oklahoma State dropping two games. But here’s the thing, they also need to worry about Texas Tech who holds the tiebreaker over them so they need them to drop a game as well. This weekend Texas fans should be rooting for Baylor to beat Texas Tech, and Kansas State to beat Oklahoma State. A West Virginia win over TCU would help but it is unlikely. If two of the following things happen Texas is back to controlling its own destiny. 

  1. TCU loses to someone other than Texas
  2. Texas Tech loses a game at any point
  3. Oklahoma State loses twice

Texas Tech Red Raiders

The wild card in this race has to be Texas Tech, their offense looks much better with Behren Moton running the show, and their defense has started creating turnovers. Any loss will all but eliminate Texas Tech. Until that happens though they’re in the conversation. They lose the tiebreakers with both Oklahoma State and Kansas State, but win it with Texas, and can still beat TCU. It may be a year too soon for Texas Tech to get to Arlington, but there’s certainly a path, and these next two weeks will have a major role to play in it.

Texas Tech must win out first off, they get Baylor, Kansas, and Oklahoma at home, with road trips to TCU and Iowa State. It’s unlikely but if they do there’s certainly a path. Texas and Baylor wouldn’t matter to Texas Tech anymore, what Tech would need is the loser of Oklahoma State or Kansas State to drop another game, and for TCU to drop one somewhere else. If that happens then Texas Tech would be on its way to a first-ever Big 12 Championship Game. A perfect week for Texas Tech would obviously be to beat Baylor, then Oklahoma State to beat Kansas State, since they likely have more losable games. Both Kansas State and TCU still play both Baylor and Texas, if those two lose one of those after Oklahoma State beats Kansas State then Texas Tech would be in.

Baylor Bears

Last week I said that Baylor was still well in the Big 12 title race, and that remains true. In fact, if they win this week, and TCU loses in Morgantown then Baylor would control their own destiny. That loss to West Virginia hurt a lot, but with games to play against Texas Tech, Kansas State, TCU, and Texas everything remains in front of Baylor. A loss this week and Baylor will need to pull an upset just to get to a Bowl Game, but a win and Baylor would have everything to play for, seem like a lock for a Bowl berth and have a significant chance of making it to Arlington. 

For Baylor, the only way to make it right now is to win out, and the most likely scenario to get them there is to have TCU slip up once. They control their own destiny of finishing ahead of Kansas State, Texas, and Texas Tech. If TCU only loses to Baylor then they’d need Oklahoma State to lose twice, one would likely need to come at Kansas State this week since they probably have the easiest schedule left. A great weekend for Baylor this week would be beating Texas Tech and having Kansas State beat Oklahoma State.

Chaos Scenario

There is one wild scenario that could easily be undone this week, but since it’s possible it’s worth mentioning. That scenario is a five-way tie with all five teams tied at 7-2 overall, and 2-2 in the head-to-head tiebreakers. For this to be possible we first need to assume, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Texas, and Texas Tech are the five teams that are tied. Baylor, Kansas, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Iowa State would be the five at the bottom. Here are all the scenarios needed for this to happen.

  1. Top five teams don’t lose to the bottom five
  2. Kansas State beats Oklahoma State
  3. Texas Tech beats TCU
  4. Texas beats Kansas State
  5. Texas beats TCU

Things Will Clear Up

At the moment it all seems very cluttered, but the Big 12 race will clear up this weekend. The loser of Texas Tech and Baylor will be out after this week, and both may be out by the end of next week. The winner of Oklahoma State and Kansas State will have a much-cleared path, while the loser will see their hopes on life support. If Texas loses to Kansas State next week they’ll be out as well, and TCU could clinch a spot with two weeks to go or come back to the field in the next couple of weeks. So buckle up, it’s going to be a wild last five weeks.

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