The CFP committee listed Oklahoma No. 5, one spot ahead of Ohio State, a team the Sooners defeated handily in Columbus in Week Two. TCU checked in at No. 8 just days after suffering its first loss. Oklahoma State, the other Big 12 CFP contender whose only loss was to TCU, was No. 11 in the initial CFP rankings.
By Saturday night, the Big 12 will be down to two one-loss teams and perhaps only one. Bedlam in Stillwater matches the Sooners and the Cowboys with the loser out of the CFP race. Saturday night in Fort Worth, Texas will try to knock off the Horned Frogs.
The return of the Big 12 championship game, scheduled for Dec. 2, is the main reason that Bedlam was moved from the final weekend of the season. The idea was that if OU and Oklahoma State finished as the top two teams in the standings, then playing Bedlam on the first Saturday in November would remove a rematch scenario.
That might be the least of the Big 12’s worries. There’s a better than reasonable chance that the nine-game round-robin schedule will leave the Big 12 without a one-loss team. And even if a one-loss team finishes on top, it will face a team with two more losses – which it has already beaten – in the Big 12 title game with a potential CFP berth on the line.
There’s also the tangled web scenario of two or three teams finishing with two losses. That would require using the Big 12’s tiebreaker rules to determine who plays in the championship game. For those readers who enjoy translating rules speak, here’s the link to the Big 12’s tiebreaking procedures.
“I didn’t read it past, ‘If you tie, the winner between head-to-head will go,’” TCU coach Gary Patterson said during his weekly media conference. “Outside of that, it’s like a full page. … Everybody voted like that. Nobody paid any attention to it. I’m sure if somebody gets left out, they’ll wish they were paying attention.”
For those of us who are paying attention, here’s how the CFP chances shake out for the Big 12’s threesome:
- Oklahoma: Games remaining at Oklahoma State, vs. TCU, at Kansas, vs. West Virginia. If the Sooners win out to reach the Big 12 championship game, they’ll control their destiny. A possible championship game opponent could be Iowa State, the team that gave OU its only loss. If the Sooners win the rematch, it will be interesting to see how the CFP committee values a revenge victory instead of a possible second victory over Oklahoma State or TCU.
- TCU: Games remaining vs. Texas, at Oklahoma, at Texas Tech, vs. Baylor. By winning their last four, the Frogs would give Oklahoma its second loss and eliminate one of the teams ahead in the CFP standings. Much like OU, TCU could face a revenge game against Iowa State or would need to beat the Sooners or the Cowboys for a second time.
- Oklahoma State: Games remaining vs. Oklahoma, at Iowa State, vs. Kansas, vs. Kansas State. If the Cowboys win Bedlam and avoid the upset in Ames, they could finish 8-1 in the Big 12. TCU could also finish 8-1 which would provide the Big 12 with its best-case title game scenario – two one-loss teams. Oklahoma State, though, will likely need help with several losses by teams ranked above it in the Week One standings.
September brought rare praise for the Big 12’s apparent strength and power while October turned into a stormy month with the Cyclones stunning Oklahoma and TCU. The first weekend of November will likely set the tone and determine whether the Big 12 will return to the CFP or spend its third season out of the last four appropriating the lament of Brooklyn (and now Los Angeles) Dodgers fans – “wait ‘til next year.”
Iowa State coaches and video viruses
Perhaps it’s the fact that Iowa State is a lovable underdog with loyal fans who so far are just too dang happy to celebrate the occasional upset. But when there is a Big Win, Cyclones coaches seem to end up with the best post-game reactions.
Let’s go back to 2009 when former coach Paul Rhoads professed his pride in the team after Iowa State won at Nebraska.
— Jake's Journal (@JakesJournal) October 26, 2016
Last Saturday, after the Cyclones’ 14-7 victory over No. 4 TCU, second-year coach Matt Campbell was less emotional, more philosophical but still compelling.
Watch this. Believe it. Commit to the process. pic.twitter.com/cPXtQf3tfF
— Osage Football (@osagefb) October 29, 2017
Note to coach Eric Taylor: Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose was nice but you need some new material.
- Baylor’s injury list has reached epic proportions. According to research by Shehan Jeyarajah, who covers Baylor for Diehards.com, the Bears have lost 10 starters for the season and at least 25 starters/backups miss at least one game. Anu Solomon, a graduate transfer from Arizona who started the season opener for Baylor, has withdrawn from school. Solomon suffered a concussion in Baylor’s second game and withdrew because the concussion issues were preventing him from attending class.
- Your Veteran Scribe cosigns this note from SI.com’s Bruce Feldman: “The Butkus Award committee unveiled its 15-member semifinalist list earlier this week. One guy they snubbed is Iowa State QB/LB Joel Lanning. He’s sixth in the nation in tackles and has been instrumental in the Cyclones’ run to the top 15. The former prep wrestling champ also exudes toughness and would do Butkus proud.”
- According to Steve Berkowitz of USA Today – who shows remarkable diligence in tracking details on coaches’ contracts – Iowa State coach Matt Campbell earned a $500,000 bonus with the Cyclones’ sixth victory. That’s more than the total pay of 13 FBS head coaches this season.
- In the first quarter at Oklahoma Saturday night, Texas Tech’s offense ran 21 plays for 211 yards and scored 20 points. Over the final three quarters, the Red Raiders had 49 offensive snaps for 226 yards and scored seven points.
- Over the last 16 quarters, Iowa State’s defense has allowed 20 points. One of the TDs the Cyclones allowed came when Texas Tech had a 7-yard scoring drive. TCU’s only points Saturday came on a kickoff return. Five Big 12 opponents have scored a total of 17 offensive points after halftime.
- Iowa State is ranked No. 14 in this week’s Associated Press poll, the school’s highest listing since 2005. The Cyclones, who play at West Virginia Saturday, are tied for first in the Big 12. Iowa State last won a league title when it topped the Missouri Valley Conference … in 1912.
- Oklahoma’s offense had to replace Biletnikoff Award winner Dede Westbrook and two NFL-worthy running backs (Samaje Perine and Joe Mixon). And yet, the Sooners lead the nation in yards per play (8.11) which is up from last season’s 7.54 and leads FBS with 65 “chunk” plays (20 or more yards). Three OU running backs have gained 400 yards rushing – freshman Trey Sermon (487 yards), sophomore Abdul Adams (467) and sophomore Rodney Anderson (410). The last time the Sooners had three backs finish with 400 or more yards rushing was 2008, the last time they played for the national championship.
Iowa State senior wide receiver Allen Lazard after the Cyclones’ victory over TCU, their second over a top five team in a month:
“It’s crazy, isn’t it? What’s crazier is that we still haven’t played our best.”