Tramel: OSU stays atop Big 12 football power rankings as Tulsa win keeps looking better
OSU’s College Football Playoff hopes received a good jolt Saturday, on a day when the Cowboys nor any of the Big 12’s conference championship game contenders were in action.
On Saturday night, the University of Tulsa rallied from a 21-0 deficit to beat 19th-ranked Southern Methodist 28-24, and suddenly TU is the talk of the mid-major crowd.
Tulsa is 4-1 in this pandemic-stricken season that has messed with the Golden Hurricane’s schedule. Four TU games have been postponed or canceled, and only once has Tulsa played on back-to-back weeks.
But TU now has beaten Central Florida and SMU, and Saturday night, ESPN was showing computer simulations that show Tulsa among the few teams with a chance at the mid-majors’ slot in a major bowl. That’s because TU ostensibly will get two cracks at undefeated Cincinnati, in a December 4 rescheduled game and then in the American Conference championship game. Tulsa and Cincinnati are the American’s lone teams undefeated in league play, and every other squad has at least two defeats.
- Related to this story
- Video: OSU football: Cowboys overcame key injuries to survive trip to Kansas State
Why is this relevant in a Big 12 rankings blog?
Because OSU’s 16-7 victory over Tulsa way back on Sept. 19 suddenly packs a punch. We looked at that game as a detriment. The Cowboys struggled to finish off a team that went 4-8 in 2019.
But now, that victory could be the best non-conference win of any College Football Playoff contender.
Of course, it’s a limited field. The Pac-12, Big Ten and Southeastern conferences played no non-conference games this season. The Atlantic Coast Conference played non-conference games, but its best wins have been Miami over Alabama-Birmingham and Notre Dame over South Florida.
Tulsa is different. The Golden Hurricane cracked the AP top 25 this week, at No. 25. Iowa State is the only other team in the poll that has lost a non-conference game; the Cyclones lost to Louisiana-Lafayette.
That means OSU has the best non-conference victory among Power 5 schools. That will help if the Cowboys get into the discussion for the playoff.
OSU still has tons of work to do to make itself relevant, starting with winning Bedlam. But if the 5-1 Cowboys can win out, including a Big 12 Championship Game victory, to finish 10-1, they would have a compelling argument to be included in the four-team playoff field. Including one of the best non-conference victories in this crazy year of 2020.
Let’s get to the Big 12 rankings:
1. Oklahoma State (5-1, 4-1): Outside of Bedlam, OSU has quite the easy road. The Cowboys’ other three remaining conference games are against Texas Tech, TCU and Baylor, all with losing Big 12 records.
2. Iowa State (5-2, 5-1): The Cyclones await the biggest Farmageddon game ever, Saturday in Ames against Kansas State. Even big Fox is televising the game.
3. Oklahoma (5-2, 4-2): If you’re asking me who I think is the best team in the Big 12, I’d pick the Sooners. But rankings should not be about what we think. They should be about what we know, and what we know is that OSU and Iowa State have done more than has the Sooners.
4. Texas (5-2, 4-2): The Longhorns have been living on the edge, with five of their six conference games going to the wire. But that stops this week. There is no edge and there is no wire when you’re playing Kansas.
5. Kansas State (4-3, 4-2): K-State returns to Arlington contention with a victory over the Cyclones.
6. West Virginia (5-3, 4-3): The West Virginia defense is for real. The Mountaineers thrashed TCU 24-6 Saturday. And that means OU has a tougher finishing schedule than does OSU, since the Sooners still go to Morgantown but already have beaten TCU, while the Cowboys go to Fort Worth but already have beaten West Virginia.
7. TCU (3-4, 3-4): That TCU offense is regressing. In games against Kansas State, OU and West Virginia, the Horned Frogs totaled four touchdowns.
8. Texas Tech (3-5, 2-5): Did the Red Raiders rediscover Alan Bowman? The deposed quarterback rallied Tech past Baylor 24-23.
9. Baylor (1-5, 1-5): One offensive touchdown for the Bears. That’s not enough.
10. Kansas (0-7, 0-6): The Jayhawks host Texas on Saturday. The last four UT-KU game scores: 50-48, 24-17, 42-27, 21-24.