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NOVEMBER BIG 12 CANNIBALISM: Can Oklahoma State Survive?

And an even bigger question is can a one loss Big 12 champ make the College Football Playoff?

Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Ok, I'm going to preface this by warning you that I'm setting aside my disdain for Baylor FOR THIS POST ONLY.

Now, on with a very rational conversation, one that could easily end in a second consecutive year of the Big 12 champion missing the College Football Playoff.

The Players:

  • Baylor
    The two-time defending champs that everyone loves to hate (including yours truly). Clearly the best at this point, combining talent with performance, as well as minimal impact due to injuries.
  • TCU
    One fourth quarter meltdown from being the defending Big 12 champs. Have continued to win, although not pretty, but the tough part of the schedule is coming up, and that depleted defense will take a beating.
  • OSU
    Benefactors of scheduling (and some would say officiating), the Cowboys' defense will need to carry the load unless the offense finds consistency (and a running game).
  • OU
    That nasty little bump in the road, known as the Red River Rivalry, is behind the Sooners, and they still control their own destiny. Can't afford another episode of sleepwalking, however.
Current standings:
1. TCU 4-0
2. Baylor 3-0, OSU 3-0
4. OU 2-1

The potential upcoming outcomes...games where the "players" could realistically lose are being highlighted...
10/24...OU beats Texas Tech in Norman
Potential standings:
1. TCU 4-0, Baylor 4-0, OSU 4-0
4. OU 3-1

10/31...Texas Tech beats OSU in Lubbock
Potential standings:
1. TCU 5-0, Baylor 5-0
3. OSU 4-1, OU 4-1

11/7...OSU beats TCU in Stillwater
Potential standings
1. Baylor 5-0
2. TCU 5-1, OSU 5-1, OU 5-1

11/14...OU loses to Baylor in Waco
Potential standings
1. Baylor 6-0
2. TCU 6-1, OSU 6-1
4. OU 5-2

11/21...OU beats TCU in Norman, Baylor loses to OSU in Stillwater
Potential standings
1. OSU 7-1
2. Baylor 6-1
3. TCU 6-2, OU 6-2

11/27-28...TCU beats Baylor in Ft Worth, OSU loses to OU in Stillwater (let's presume Baylor beats Texas the following week)
Potential final standings as of 12/5
1. OSU, OU, TCU, and Baylor all at 7-2

There are obviously a couple other W-L scenarios by which this could happen, but I'm giving preference to home field advantage, except for Bedlam, where the last two games were won by the road team. Oh, and one more thing...the Big 12 would be left out of the College Football Playoff.

Now here comes the fun part.

The Big 12's tiebreaker rule got a makeover this past offseason, fixing the head-to-head issue that arose last season between Baylor and TCU. Amazingly enough, the methodology for breaking the tie between three or more teams, whether or not you agree with it, is fairly straightforward:

b: If three or more teams are tied, steps 1 through 4 will be followed until a determination is made. Once a team has been eliminated from a multi-team comparison, it is dropped from further comparisons. If only two teams remain tied after any step, the winner of the game between the two tied teams shall be the Champion.

1) The conference records of the three or more teams will be compared against each other.

2) The conference records of the three or more teams will be compared against the next highest placed team(s) in the conference (4, 5 and 6….).
a: When comparing against the next highest placed teams, a two-way tie among the next highest placed teams will be broken by head-to-head before the comparison begins.
b: If more than a two-way tie exists among the next highest placed teams, record against the collective tied teams as a group will be used.

3) Scoring differential among the tied teams. The team with the lowest difference between points scored and points allowed in games vs. the tied teams are eliminated from consideration.

4) Draw (In the event steps 1-3 cannot break a multi-team tie the champion will be determined by draw at the Conference office.)

So step one would look like this...the tied teams records against each other:

TCU 1-2 (losses to OU and OSU)
Baylor 1-2 (losses to OSU and TCU)
OSU 2-1 (loss to OU)
OU 2-1 (loss to Baylor)

This would eliminate both TCU and Baylor, thus leaving only two teams and invoking the immediate head-to-head comparison to determine the champion, which gives the title to Okla........

Oh, never mind the rest of that, you get it. I'm sure we can come up with plenty of scenarios with a much happier ending, but you see where this could easily end up. I realize that, while not likely, it is not a far-fetched idea and could quite easily happen, given that there are several avenues to this result. In that respect, it is actually to either OU's or OSU's advantage to have lost a conference game to one of the lower ranked teams, given the tiebreaker first goes to the record among the higher ranked schools. I would think that should be the opposite. The champ should be someone who DIDN'T lose to a lower tier program. Flip that in the tiebreaker rule, and start that step from the BOTTOM (a loss to Kansas should be an automatice DQ). I'd be good with that.

It's way more likely that there's a tie between three, one loss teams (since none of these teams have played each other and OU already has a loss, this precludes four, one loss teams). In this scenario, should OSU lose to Tech, then either OU or OSU takes the title if they win out.

So, to repeat, if you're going to lose a game or two and still win the conference based on the tiebreaker, you're better off losing to Kansas and/or Iowa State than to TCU and/or Baylor, which would then kill you in consideration by the CFP committee. Nice catch 22....

As for the College Football Playoff, there needs to be some cannibalization in other conferences (which usually happens) for a one loss Big 12 champion to get in. There are currently seven non-Big 12 undefeated teams in the AP top 12, and you can throw in one loss Alabama at #8. There are three regular season conflicts...LSU-Bama, Florida State-Clemson, and Ohio State-Michigan State...that will knock down the losers. Utah could potentially run into Stanford in the Pac 12 championship game. Whoever is left standing after tOSU-MSU could face Iowa in the Big Ten championship game.

What's probably going to happen? Baylor three-peats, wins the College Football Playoff, and we all prepare for Armageddon.