The College Football Playoff rankings came out last night, placing 4 teams from the Big 12 team in the top 25. Oklahoma and West Virginia are the two top teams from the conference at No.7 and No. 13 respectively, while Texas and Iowa State bring up the latter half with their rankings coming in at No. 17 and No. 24. With the Big 12 missing 2 of the first 4 years since the playoff system began, and a Big 12 team being absent from the top 4 spot in the first rankings, there are several questions that will be answered during the final stretch of the season.
Best Case Scenario for the Big 12:
Obviously, there are dozens of crazy scenarios that can play out during the last month of the college football season, but I’ll just stick with the more realistic ones. In the short term, I believe the worst thing that could happen to the Big 12 chances would be LSU defeating Alabama this weekend. Assuming LSU won out, Alabama could then escape the SEC title game altogether and their worst loss would be against a top 4 opponent. Based on Alabama’s well deserved recent success, I think that would mean 2 SEC teams getting into the playoffs. Then there is the more obvious roadblock to the Big 12. An undefeated Notre Dame team will surely get into the playoffs, especially with wins over Michigan, Stanford, and Syracuse.
Best chance for a Big 12 team to make the playoff:
I know some will disagree, but I think both OU and WVU have an equal chance of getting in if they both run the table. WVU’s loss seems a lot better now and if they can notch 3 more wins against ranked teams, they will be knocking on the door just as much as if OU won their remaining games.
Possible chaos from within:
Texas still has a lot to play for and they are notorious for playing up to their competition. Their college football playoff chances were probably dashed last Saturday night, but a Big 12 Championship would be more than enough to count 2018 as a successful season. Texas Tech has been inconsistent at times this season, but they have the advantage of playing both OU and UT at home. Finally, Baylor could become a periphery spoiler. A win next week in Ames would probably be enough to knock ISU out of the top 25; potentially hurting the resume of WVU.
The Big 12 teams are well known for knocking out their own teams who are pursuing title chances. My hope is that you will hear about Baylor in the national discussion a month from now. Maybe OU and WVU will be able to point to their Baylor games as a marquee win against a ranked opponent.