The Big 12’s playoff hopes took a serious hit when Baylor and West Virginia lost over the weekend.
Without an undefeated team to present to the playoff’s selection committee, it will be difficult for the conference to argue it has one of the nation’s top four teams at the conclusion of the season.
Oklahoma, Baylor and West Virginia – ranked 12th, 13th and 14th, respectively – are technically still in the running for a spot on college football’s biggest stage, but they will need to win the remainder of their games and hope for chaos elsewhere. For now, all three teams are probably better served if they focus on other goals, such as a Big 12 championship.
That aspiration remains within reach for as many as five teams. The Big 12 title race seems more wide open than ever.
“The biggest thing we learned last week is we have to play our best every week,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “The Big 12 is hard, and you have to play your best every week or you will get beat.”
The Sooners, undefeated in league play, are the team to beat. Baylor, Oklahoma State and West Virginia are one game back. K-State can add to the parity if it keeps winning.
For the first time in league history, the conference enters November without a top 10 team. Instead of one or two dominant teams, the Big 12 boasts a herd of solid teams. Eight are currently .500 or better and four are ranked. This may be the year 7-2 is good enough win the league title.
“There is more parity in college football than there ever has been,” Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said.
Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are both on the road this week. Next week, the league’s top contenders begin playing each other when Baylor heads to Oklahoma.
Many expected TCU and Texas Tech to play one of the highest-scoring games of the season on Saturday. The Red Raiders topped 50 points in five of their first seven games. The Horned Frogs regularly top 40 points. It seemed like they would combine for fireworks in Fort Worth.
Instead, Texas Tech won a low-scoring affair 27-24 in double overtime. Go figure.
Injure the quarterback
Texas defensive end Breckyn Hager had some interesting words when asked what it will take to stop Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes when the Longhorns face the Red Raiders on Saturday.
“I say injure that quarterback,” Hager told TV reporters Monday in Austin. “That’s the mentality right now. We’ve got to take him out. We know he’s banged up and we’ve just got to get after him.”
Mahomes has been dealing with an injury to his throwing shoulder for the past month.
Texas and Texas Tech both enter this weekend’s game in Lubbock at 4-4. It will be a big one for both teams. The Red Raiders will have some bulletin-board material to work with.
1. Oklahoma (6-2, 5-0): Sooners are once again the team to beat in the Big 12.
2. West Virginia (6-1, 3-1 Big 12): Mountaineers fell back to earth in loss at Oklahoma State.
3. Baylor (6-1, 3-1): Bears blew the game late at Texas.
4. Oklahoma State (6-2, 4-1): That loss to Central Michigan feels like ages ago.
5. Kansas State (5-3, 3-2): Wildcats can join Big 12 title mix if they beat Oklahoma State.
6. Texas (4-4, 2-3): Longhorns may have saved their season by beating Baylor.
7. Texas Tech (4-4, 2-3): Red Raiders desperately needed a win and got one at TCU.
8. TCU (4-4, 2-3): Held Texas Tech to 27 points and still lost.
9. Iowa State (1-7, 0-5): Jacob Park should start at quarterback against Oklahoma.
10. Kansas (1-7, 0-5): Winnable home game vs. Iowa State set for 11 a.m kickoff on Nov. 12 .
Kellis Robinett: @kellisrobinett