Iowa State Cyclones

Overreaction Monday: A Beautiful, Crazy Big 12 Race, Texas a CFP Team, Mike Gundy is a Wizard

Syndication: Austin American-Statesman

The 2023 regular season has come to an end, with the Texas Longhorns (11-1, 8-1) and the Oklahoma State Cowboys (9-3, 7-2) as the last team standing ahead of the Big 12 Championship Game.

This year provided one of the most chaotic races in conference history, as four teams from the conference had legitimate chances of making the Big 12 title game heading into Week 13, and seven teams were still mathematically in the race until Saturday.

In the end, a double-overtime win over BYU sent Oklahoma State to Arlington and left the Oklahoma Sooners (10-2, 7-2) at home on Championship weekend.

It’s time for the final Overreaction Monday of the 2023 season, so let’s take one last look at some of the hot-button topics in the Big 12 this season.


Texas is a College Football Playoff Team

Not an Overreaction

The one thing that I’d yet to see Texas do is put a good team away early and keep their foot on the throttle. TCU took the Longhorns to the wire, and Houston had a real shot to take them down in H-Town. Despite dominating Kansas State early, Texas had to hold them off in overtime to move on. Even in a 26-16 win over Iowa State, there were times against the Cyclones that it felt like the Longhorns were toying with fire.

That was not the case on Friday night though, as Joey McGuire and Texas Tech felt the full wrath of the Texas Longhorns in a 57-7 beatdown inside Darrell K. Royal Stadium. While Texas Tech entered the game 6-5, the Red Raiders had played their best football of the season coming into Week 13, winning three games in a row coming into the game.

This performance was impressive enough to put some concerns to bed, and if it impressed the College Football Playoff committee, we’ll see the fruits of that on Tuesday night. However, if it didn’t Texas might be stuck behind the Pac-12 Champion and Florida State regardless of how badly they might beat Oklahoma State this upcoming Saturday.

As of today, it appears Texas will need some help, but the Longhorns are worthy of a top-four spot. They rank 13th in strength of schedule, 6th in strength of record, 2nd in game control, and have the best win in the nation over Alabama, in Tuscaloosa no less. If Texas is 12-1 after this week, there’s no reason they should be held out of the College Football Playoff.


Oklahoma Isn’t a Top 10 Team


If there is one fan base that is really in their feelings on Monday, it’s got to be the Oklahoma Sooners’ faithful. For starters, this is the second time in three seasons that Oklahoma has gone 10-2 and failed to make the Big 12 Championship (that is pain). Instead, a 9-3 Oklahoma State team will advance after beating the Sooners in a thriller in Stillwater.

Secondly, Oklahoma fans sat and watched BYU build a 24-6 halftime lead in Stillwater just to squander it in a double-overtime heartbreaker, locking OU out of a Big 12 Championship bid.

Perhaps the worst part about this for Oklahoma is a two-game lull to end October and start November likely cost Oklahoma not only a shot at the Big 12 title, but also a chance at a College Football Playoff bid. If we’re being honest, the Sooner had no business walking into Lawrence or Stillwater and dropping either of those games.

The 38-33 loss to Kansas was the real killer too, as an injury to Danny Stutsman combined with awful weather, terrible special teams play, and a pick-six from Dillon Gabriel all came together to spoil their season.

After going 6-7 last season a 10-2 year sounds like a dream, but for Oklahoma fans, it’s got to sting just a bit. The Sooners left some meat on the bone this season, but the silver lining is, the future is bright in Norman.


Mike Gundy is an Actual Wizard

Not an Overreaction

Rewind to September for just a moment. Oklahoma State just suffered a 33-7 loss to South Alabama and looked like it might be the worst team in the Big 12. Follow that up with a loss to Iowa State, who’d just lost to Ohio (not Ohio State, Ohio) and was expected to be a bottom-three team in the conference, and there was just no way that a 2-2 Oklahoma State was a contender for the Big 12 title.

Now, coming back to present day, the Cowboys are headed to Arlington to take on Texas in the Big 12 Championship. How in the hell is that even real? Mike Gundy has done it again as the Cowboys wrapped the season by winning seven of their last eight games and getting the Pokes into the Big 12 title game. Their loss? A 45-3 defeat at the hands of UCF, who finished the year at 6-6. Like, what?

Trying to make sense of what this Oklahoma State team is might make your head explode, but the fact of the matter is that OSU stacked wins to finish out their season, and that’s all it takes to be atop the rankings at the end of the year.

Oklahoma State’s wins over Kansas State, Kansas, and Oklahoma were paramount in their climb to the top, and it was those wins that separated them in a very tight Big 12 race.

While Mike Gundy might catch some flack from his fan base at times, there’s no arguing that he’s one of the best coaches in college football, and the job he did in Stillwater in 2023 is a perfect example of why that is the case.

2023 Was the Best Big 12 Race Ever

Not an Overreaction

As the Big 12 makes a major transition into a 16-team league next season, there’s a chance that we have some very competitive and fun conference races ahead of us. However, the first season without a round-robin schedule and divisions provided the most entertaining Big 12 race that this conference has ever seen.

Sure, the tiebreaker rules were a huge mess and will be something that the conference needs to clean up in the years to come, but let’s take a look at how things played out.

Heading into Week 10, it seemed clear that Oklahoma and Texas were the favorites to make the Big 12 Championship, but an OU loss to OSU made the Pokes the favorite to join Texas. Then, Oklahoma State failed to show up in Orlando, creating a four-way tie for second place between OU, OSU, K-State, and Iowa State.

Texas eliminated Iowa State in Ames in Week 12, while Oklahoma State and Oklahoma both survived on the road against Houston and BYU. Meanwhile, K-State took down Kansas in a thrilling edition of the Sunflower Showdown to keep pace.

Then, in Week 13, the race took its final turn. Oklahoma started off the weekend with a 69-45 win over TCU, eliminating Kansas State from contention due to the tiebreaker rules. Texas followed that up with a 57-7 win over Texas Tech, locking up their spot in the title game. Then, on Saturday, Oklahoma State went into halftime with an 18-point deficit to a 5-6 BYU team. However, a five-touchdown performance from Ollie Gordon led the Pokes back to a 40-34 win in double overtime.

To cap all of it off, we got a visually stunning, snow-laden edition of Farmageddon, where Iowa State took down K-State at home in a 42-35 upset despite running just 35 offensive snaps. It was a crazy, beautiful, and encapsulating end to the 2023 Big 12 season, and I can’t wait to see where this conference is headed in 2024.

NOTE: We were all wrong about Neal Brown and West Virginia, and for that I am ashamed. Congrats on the 8-4 season Coach Brown. You were, in fact, not the 14th-best team in the Big 12.

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