Believe it or not, there are several different scenarios for which teams might end up in the Big 12 Championship, but for Oklahoma football, there is just one: Beat West Virginia.
The Sooners and West Virginia are in the driver’s seat right now with two games still to play, but Texas and Iowa State, both with two league losses, are still in contention, although one of those two teams effectively will be eliminated after playing each other on Saturday in Austin.
West Virginia has the most difficult path of the four contenders. The seventh-ranked Mountaineers (8-1, 6-1) are at Oklahoma State on Saturday in one of the marquee games of the upcoming college football weekend.
Oklahoma State is not having the best of seasons, but they are as explosive as any team in the Big 12, as evidenced by the near upset of Oklahoma this past weekend, despite fielding a 5-5 overall record and 2-5 in the Big 12. One of the Cowboys’ two Big 12 wins, however, was over Texas in a game played earlier in Stillwater, which is where West Virginia will be this Saturday.
An Oklahoma State win over West Virginia, as much as it would delight everyone in the Sooner Nation, does not guarantee the Sooners anything. Oklahoma would still need to beat the Mountaineers at West Virginia to clinch a spot in the Big 12 title game on Dec. 1.
The Sooners could still reach the Big 12 Championship with a loss to West Virginia, but for that to happen, Texas would have to lose one of its final two games (vs. Iowa State and Kansas). This, of course, assumes an OU win at home this weekend over Kansas. Otherwise, Texas would play West Virginia in the Big 12 Championships game.
If OU and Texas both win out (which would mean an OU victory over West Virginia in the regular-season finale), the Sooners would clinch one of the spots in the Big 12 title game, but the other spot would go to West Virginia because of its one-point win over the Longhorns. That would set up a rematch a week later in the Big 12 Championship that the Sooners would need to win to keep their College Football Playoff hopes alive.
If West Virginia and Iowa State win out, the Sooners and Mountaineers would move on to the conference championship because Texas would be eliminated with three Big 12 losses and Oklahoma owns the tiebreaker over Iowa State.
There is also a scenario by which Oklahoma and Iowa State could play for the Big 12 championship. That would occur if the Sooners and Cyclones run the table the next two weekends.
That’s a lot of “ifs” and “buts” to digest, but what it all boils down to with just two regular-season games remaining is that Oklahoma needs to take care of the business in front of it, and let the final pieces fall into place. Win the final two games, and then the Sooners can worry about the winner-take-all championship matchup on Dec. 1 in Arlington, Texas, with either West Virginia or Iowa State.
Oklahoma has already beaten Iowa State once this season, but if they are going to beat West Virginia, once let alone twice in as many weeks, it is imperative that they play much better defense, especially on the back end. The Mountaineers have a Heisman-worthy quarterback, an an offense that can match the Sooners’ scoring power and a defense that ranks second in the Big 12.
The college football season is heading down the home stretch, and Oklahoma has a formidable task and a collision course dead ahead to finish off a successful season.