Big XII Update

Courtesy Big 12 News

The Big 12 began Saturday afternoon with a pair of legitimate College Football Playoff contenders.

It ended the afternoon with a muddled mess.

West Virginia’s 41-27 upset of No. 4 Baylor and No. 14 Kansas State’s 31-30 victory over No. 11 Oklahoma took down what were believed to be the league’s top two teams and created a logjam atop the Big 12 standings.

It also might have ended the league’s hopes of an entrant in the inaugural College Football Playoff. Ralph D. Russo of The Associated Press shared his thoughts about the Big 12:

At 6-0, Baylor likely needed to run the table against its remaining schedule (which included Top 15 matchups against Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Kansas) for serious playoff consideration, given a nonconference schedule that included Buffalo, SMU and FCS Northwestern State.

Oklahoma certainly needed to run the table after a loss two weeks ago at TCU.

Both teams were done in by their own hand on Saturday.

Oklahoma was felled by poor defense against a K-State offense that, led by senior quarterback Jake Waters, was capable but not necessarily explosive. The Sooners allowed more than 30 points for the third time in four Big 12 games.

And don’t forget about kicker Michael Hunnicutt’s struggles. Hunnicutt, Oklahoma’s career scoring leader, suffered a blocked extra point and two missed field goals. That included a stunning 19-yard miss with 3:53 left and OU trailing by a point.

Meanwhile, Baylor simply couldn’t contain West Virginia, and unlike last week (when a stunning 21-point fourth-quarter comeback muted the sting of giving up 58 points and 485 yards of total offense to TCU) there was no late-game magic. 

West Virginia’s offense, led by senior quarterback Clint Trickett (322 yards) and dynamic wideout Kevin White, did everything it wanted. On the other side of the ball, the Mountaineers defense consistently harassed Bryce Petty. He completed just 16 of 36 passes for 223 yards and two scores. 

Following TCU’s rout of Oklahoma State, the Big 12 will end Saturday with no unbeaten and three one-loss teams.

That might leave K-State as the league’s best potential College Football Playoff contender.

The Wildcats’ only loss was a hard-fought home defeat to Auburn, and they own a win at Oklahoma with Oklahoma State coming to Manhattan and Baylor and TCU remaining on the schedule.

However, the Wildcats’ playoff candidacy could be a stretch. The Kansas City Star’s Kellis Robinett shared a quote from Bill Snyder:

One thing is clear: The top of the Big 12 is muddled, with the top teams apparently all capable of beating one another in any week. Oklahoma State, TCU, Baylor or Kansas State could all wind up on top when the dust clears in early December.

The league’s full round-robin, nine-game schedule means the likelihood of a true meat grinder in November and early December is high. A clearly dominant team is unlikely to emerge by the end of the regular season.