If you’re a fan of a team in the Big 12, you might want to sit down before you read this. Oklahoma or West Virginia is likely the conference’s only hope of reaching the College Football Playoff.
Despite a Week 1 loss to Maryland, Texas established itself as the top team in the Big 12 after a win in a shootout over Oklahoma in the Red River Showdown. But after a loss to Oklahoma State in Week 9, the Longhorns probably out of the playoff picture even if they win the Big 12 Championship.
A two-loss team has never made the College Football Playoff and and it’s unlikely Texas will be the first given its losses to Maryland and Oklahoma State — two schools that are a win from bowl eligibility but aren’t in the AP Top 25.
That leaves Oklahoma and West Virginia, the Big 12’s only one-loss teams. They meet in the final week of the regular season, meaning the Big 12 Championship will feature at least one two-loss team. However, both schools are at risk of suffering a loss before they face off in Morgantown.
Oklahoma plays at Texas Tech in Week 10 and hosts Oklahoma State. West Virginia plays at Texas this week, followed by games against TCU and at Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma’s remaining schedule
|Nov. 3||at Texas Tech||5-3|
|Nov. 10||Oklahoma State||5-3|
|Nov. 23||at West Virginia||6-1|
West Virginia’s remaining schedule
|Nov. 3||at Texas||6-2|
|Nov. 17||at Oklahoma State||5-3|
It’s not unreasonable to think that Texas could beat West Virginia in Week 10 and that the Mountaineers could beat Oklahoma at home in their regular season finale, leaving all three schools with at least two losses.
The 2016 season provides a road map for why the Big 12 should want to avoid having a two-loss conference champion. Oklahoma won the regular season conference title (there wasn’t a conference championship game two years ago), finishing the year 10-2 after losing to Houston and Ohio State. The Sooners finished seventh in the committee’s final rankings with Penn State and Michigan claiming the No. 5 and No. 6 spots.
Assuming it would take a one-loss Big 12 champion to seriously contend for the playoff, the conference needs either Oklahoma or West Virginia to run the table and win the Big 12 Championship. That’s a tall order given the parity in the Big 12, even for two teams that are currently ranked in the top 15 nationally.