With all due respect to West Virginia, the Big 12 might be on the verge of getting the dream matchup for its football championship game.
If Oklahoma remains perfect against West Virginia and Texas avoids a repeat of the 2016 debacle at Kansas, the two Red River rivals and college football bluebloods will meet for the Big 12 title Dec. 1 at AT&T Stadium.
Yes, it would bring tons of attention and reward all those astute ticket buyers who gave the Big 12 a ton of sales the week after Texas beat Oklahoma 48-45 in October at the Cotton Bowl.
Texas defensive end Breckyn Hager even fired the first shot of a Red River Rematch at the end of his interview session after a Saturday win over Iowa State. He looked at the clock as he walked away and took a shot at a rival. “It’s 11:12 … and OU still sucks.”
A Texas-OU meeting would mean more than trash talking and down Horns debates.
It also would be the only way the Big 12 can put a team — in this case, Oklahoma — into the College Football Playoff. Otherwise, the conference would continue its every-other-year pattern and be 2 for 5 when it comes to making the CFP.
Oklahoma State’s upset of West Virginia gave the Mountaineers a second loss and pretty much ended their chances of being in college football’s final four. West Virginia can still reach the Big 12 title game with a win over Oklahoma. The CFP odds for Texas are pretty much nonexistent, even if you were to get teams such as Northwestern (Big Ten), Pittsburgh (ACC) and Utah (Pac-12) winning their conference title games. But by winning the Big 12, the Longhorns or Mountaineers could claim the Big 12’s berth in the Sugar Bowl.
Oklahoma remains a viable contender for now with just the one loss to Texas. The Sooners need to win out versus ranked teams in West Virginia and Texas, hope for Ohio State to upset CFP No. 4 Michigan this week and then win the selection committee debate over the Buckeyes. Oh, a Washington win over surging Washington State and Mike Leach might help, too.
Narrow escapes against Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, as well as a less-than-impressive 55-40 victory over Kansas haven’t exactly helped the Sooners’ case.
“We know we’ve got to play better, know we’re going to have to play better here in the next couple to be where we want to be,” Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley said, “so going in there to a short week and getting ready to play a really good West Virginia team on the road in a really hostile venue [is] just like we like it.”
Oklahoma is 6-0 against West Virginia since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12. The Sooners could use a statement too, especially by their defense.
OU has allowed 133 points and 1,637 yards in its last three games. Every week on ESPN’s CFP rankings show, the Sooners’ defense seems to be a handy target.
Of course, Texas was struggling just like Oklahoma and responded with one of its best defensive efforts against Iowa State.
Riley is seeing the same problems as everyone else, beginning with tackling.
“I still feel like we can be what we need to be,” Riley said. “Obviously, we didn’t take a stand this week that we expected to take, so I can’t sit here and say something that’s not true.”
Three takeaways from the Big 12
1. Four Big 12 teams will be playing for bowl eligibility this weekend. Texas Tech, Baylor, TCU and Kansas State are each 5-6 and each seeking that magic sixth win to extend their seasons.
2. Expect a lot of discussion about Kliff Kingsbury’s future at Texas Tech heading into Saturday’s game with Baylor at AT&T Stadium. Tech has lost four straight after a 5-2 start and managed just 181 yards total offense at Kansas State.
3. After beating Baylor, TCU’s hopes for an upset of Oklahoma State and a bowl bid will likely again ride on third-string quarterback Grayson Muehlstein and third-string tailback Emari Demercado because of injuries.
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