Big 12 Championship: Breaking down possible scenarios

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Big 12 Championship: Breaking down possible scenarios

The Big 12’s lack of divisions allows for a bit more chaos as it pertains to the race to reach the Big 12 Championship, and the potential scenarios are indeed a bit muddy as the schools ramp up for the final three-week homestretch.

With 15 conference games remaining, there are largely four teams still in the thick in the race to reach the Big 12 title game. Oklahoma and West Virginia both control their own destiny while Texas and Iowa State have true shots if they win out and have one game go the right way here or there. Others, like Texas Tech, remain in the running but need a bit more help.

So, what’s the outlook? 247Sports takes a look at some of the scenarios and favorites to reach the Big 12 Championship on Dec. 1 in Arlington, Texas. These are not all-inclusive and mostly represent more likely possibilities. Should all 15 games follow ESPN’s Football Power Index win probabilities, something that is maybe asking a bit much, the Dec. 1 game would be a matchup of West Virginia and Oklahoma. But as is shown here, that’s far from a certainty.

Kyler Murray
(Photo: Michael C. Johnson, USA TODAY Sports)

Status: In contention

Schedule: vs. Oklahoma State, vs. Kansas, at West Virginia

Scenarios: The easiest scenario for Oklahoma to reach the Big 12 Championship is winning the next three games against Oklahoma State, Kansas and West Virginia, the first two of which will have the Sooners as heavy favorites. Oklahoma controls its own destiny, so win out and it’s in. But the Sooners can afford to lose one game and still arrive in Arlington, Texas, on Dec. 1. If Oklahoma loses to, say, West Virginia in Morgantown, it will still reach the Big 12 title game so long as Texas loses at least one more game. Because of the early-season loss, Oklahoma would lose the head-to-head tiebreaker against Texas, so if the Sooners lose another game, they need Texas to likely fall to Texas Tech or Iowa State sometime in the next two weeks. That makes the rooting interests easy for the Sooners: Win out, but root against Texas just in case.

Will Grier
(Photo: Ben Queen, USA TODAY Sports)

Status: In contention

Schedule: vs. TCU, at Oklahoma State, vs. Oklahoma

Scenarios: Much like Oklahoma, West Virginia controls its own destiny. If the Mountaineers win their next three games against TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, they will not only be in the Big 12 Championship, but they will also win the Big 12 regular season by one full game. But ESPN’s Football Power Index gives West Virginia only a 38 percent chance to win against Oklahoma, so it’s worth knowing some other possibilities. If West Virginia loses one more game, to, say, Oklahoma, it could still reach the Big 12 title game. What the Mountaineers would want in that case is for Texas to beat Iowa State. If Texas and West Virginia both finish 7-2, the Mountaineers win the head-to-head tiebreaker. But if Iowa State finishes 7-2, beating Texas (and Baylor and Kansas State), the Cyclones would win the head-to-head against West Virginia. So if West Virginia does lose again, it wants Iowa State to lose somewhere too.

(Photo: Rob Ferguson, USA TODAY Sports)

Status: In contention

Schedule: at Texas Tech, vs. Iowa State, at Kansas

Scenarios: Texas needs some help. While the Longhorns are still squarely in the Big 12 Championship race, they can’t simply win the next three games and be guaranteed admittance into the title game. If Texas does win out to end the regular season, the simplest way to reach Arlington is doing something the Longhorns are likely doing anyway: root against the Sooners. That’s because Texas doesn’t want to end up in a two-way tie with West Virginia at 7-2. Last week’s loss would mean the Longhorns lose that head-to-head tiebreaker. But if West Virginia beats Oklahoma and Texas wins the next three, it reaches the championship game for a rematch against the Mountaineers by virtue of winning the head-to-head tiebreaker against Oklahoma. But Texas needs to win the next two games against Texas Tech and Iowa State. Lose one of those and things become pretty tricky. In a three- or four-way tie with West Virginia, Texas Tech and Iowa State, the Longhorns would be on the short end with another loss in the next few weeks as their record in that grouping would be, at best, 1-2.

Brock Purdy
(Photo: Brian Bahr, Getty)

Status: In contention

Schedule: vs. Baylor, at Texas, vs. Kansas State

Scenarios: Much like Texas, Iowa State can’t simply win its next three conference games and be in the Big 12 Championship. But there is one really simple scenario for the Cyclones. If Iowa State wins its next three games against Baylor, Texas and Kansas State, it reaches the Big 12 title game so long as Oklahoma beats West Virginia on Nov. 24. If the Cyclones end up in a two-way tie with West Virginia at 7-2, they win the tiebreaker due to the head-to-head. That’s by far the simplest scenario for Iowa State. There are others, but they would require some wonkiness. Texas would need to lose another game, most likely this week to Texas Tech, and West Virginia would need to lose two games, probably to Oklahoma and then either TCU or Oklahoma State. If those two things happened, Iowa State would be in a four-way tie at 6-3 and would win a mini round robin with West Virginia, Texas and Texas Tech because it would be 2-1 in those games (same record as West Virginia) and would win the head-to-head against the Mountaineers after the pool is whittled down.

Jett Duffey
(Photo: Icon Sportswire, Getty)

Status: Needs chaos

Schedule: vs. Texas, at Kansas State, at Baylor

Scenarios: The best Texas Tech can do in the Big 12 standings is 6-3 with wins in the next three weeks against Texas, Kansas State and Baylor. Pull off the win against Texas this weekend and that’s certainly in play. But even at 6-3, the Red Raiders are going to need some chaos. Playing around with the scenarios that get Texas Tech into the title game, this one pops up, beginning with Texas Tech winning out to go 6-3: West Virginia loses out to TCU, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma (finishing 5-4); Iowa State loses to Baylor and Kansas State but beats Texas (finishing 5-4); Texas loses to Tech and Iowa State but beats Kansas (finishing 5-4). Texas Tech would take second place by itself and reach the title game. Because of the losses to Oklahoma, West Virginia, Iowa State, the Red Raiders are in a tough spot with head-to-head and even round robin tiebreakers. The Red Raiders have a 35.8 percent chance to win out according to ESPN’s FPI. The problem is they would need some other teams to really tank.

Baylor Momentum
(Photo: © Jerome Miron, USA TODAY Sports)

Status: Longshot

Schedule: at Iowa State, vs. TCU, vs. Texas Tech

Scenarios: Baylor’s situation is pretty much the same as Texas Tech’s, though with longer odds. The Bears can also finish 6-3 if they beat Iowa State, TCU and Texas Tech in the next three weeks, but they would need a lot of help. Baylor does finish second alone at 6-3 if: West Virginia loses out, Iowa State beats Texas but loses to Kansas State, Texas Tech beats Texas and Kansas State and Texas beats only Kansas in the rest of November. Having that all happen is a long shot, not to mention ESPN’s FPI gives Baylor only a 1.6 percent chance to win out in its final three games. But technically, Baylor remains in contention.

(Photo: Kevin Jairaj, USA TODAY Sports)

Status: Longshot

Schedule: at West Virginia, at Baylor, vs. Oklahoma State

Scenario: Oddly enough, there is at least one (yes, crazy) scenario that would land TCU in the Big 12 Championship. The Horned Frogs would need to win out and then have quite a bit of chaos, including West Virginia losing out, Iowa State losing to Baylor and Kansas State but beating Texas and Texas Tech beating Texas but losing to Kansas State and Baylor. It’s all very improbable, but in that situation, TCU would advance in a mini round robin and then beat Iowa State for a spot in the title game based on its early-season head-to-head win.

Taylor Cornelius
(Photo: Brett Deering, Getty)

Status: Longshot (possible spoiler)

Schedule: at Oklahoma, vs. West Virginia, at TCU

Scenario: There does appear to be one scenario where all of the above from TCU happens but Oklahoma State beats TCU and has a very outside shot. But even if the Cowboys win out against Oklahoma, West Virginia and TCU, something ESPN’s FPI gives a 2.1 percent chance, it would be 5-4 and in ties that it mostly loses. With that said, Oklahoma State could be a spoiler. If the Cowboys pulled off the stunning upset against Oklahoma this weekend or beat West Virginia at home on Nov. 17, they could really shake things up at the top of the Big 12 standings.

(Photo: Steve Adelson, 247Sports)

Status: Eliminated (possible spoiler)

Schedule: vs. Kansas, vs. Texas Tech, at Iowa State 

Scenario: Kansas State can’t do better than four wins in Big 12 play, and thus is completely eliminated from the Big 12 Championship. But the Wildcats would potentially have a chance to play spoiler. If Iowa State were to win its next two games against Baylor and Texas, it would enter the Nov. 24 game against Kansas State most likely playing for a spot in the Big 12 title game so long as Oklahoma beats West Virginia that same day. If that were the case, Kansas State could eliminate the Cyclones with an 11th-straight win against them.

(Photo: © Michael C. Johnson, USA TODAY Sports)

Status: Eliminated (possible spoiler)

Schedule: at Kansas State, at Oklahoma, vs. Texas

Scenario: Like Kansas State, Kansas’ shot at the Big 12 title game is 100 percent gone even if it won out with some improbable upsets. But the Jayhawks could have a shot to play spoiler with one last Big 12 win for David Beaty on the team’s Senior Day. Kansas will host Texas on Nov. 24, and depending how some situations play out, the Longhorns could be playing for their title hopes. The Jayhawks have won only two Big 12 games under Beaty, including Texas in 2016 and TCU this season, and ESPN’s FPI gives them only a 15.3 percent chance to win the game in question, but it’s one possible scenario to drum up some Big 12 chaos. 

“>247Sports

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