Big 12 Championship Game: #6 Iowa State vs. # 10 Oklahoma
Saturday, December 19th 11:00 AM CT, ABC
No Baylor this week, but this is a huge game for the Big 12 Conference in general. Everyone wrote off the conference after their opening week Sun Belt woes, but I actually think #6 Iowa State (8-2, 8-1), and potentially #10 Oklahoma (7-2, 6-2), are positioned nicely to have a shot at making the College Football Playoff if a few games go their way. The way I see it, if Notre Dame beats Clemson for a second time in the ACC championship, Clemson should be out of the playoff since they lost twice to a team already in the playoff (no one wants to see a three-peat of a game). If that happens, a spot opens up in the top 4 and I imagine a Power 5 conference champion would jump Texas A&M who didn’t even make their championship game. An Ohio State loss to Northwestern, an A&M loss to Tennessee, and/or a Cincinnati loss to Tulsa all make that even more likely. Alabama probably has to beat Florida in this scenario (something I don’t think they’ll have any problem doing). All that to say the Big 12 has an okay shot of getting a team in and that’s good for the sake of conference stability (and for the sake of keeping A&M out).
Now to the championship game itself: Iowa State beat Oklahoma in their first matchup in Ames, 37-30. That was part of a two game losing streak to start conference play. Since then, OU has rattled off 6 wins in a row thanks to quarterback Spencer Rattler looking much improved. However, Iowa State has also looked great down the stretch, winning 5 consecutive games by an average of 24 points. Quarterback Brock Purdy had a bad game against Baylor but looked electric after that. And the Cyclones boast the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year (Breece Hall, RB), the Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year (Mike Rose, LB), and the Big 12 Coach of the Year (Matt Campbell). But, Oklahoma is Oklahoma and they have far more raw talent and depth than the Cyclones.
I like Iowa State to win this one and it’s because of Baylor. Oklahoma’s last game was against the Bears, where the Baylor’s defense highlighted some major offensive issues for the Sooners that held them well below their scoring average. If there’s any team that can replicate some of that disruption, it’s Iowa State. And the Cyclones certainly have an offense to capitalize on their defensive successes. Oklahoma is a 6 point favorite, but I see Iowa State winning outright by 6 or more.
41-33 Iowa State