Tramel: Most Big 12 football tiebreakers favor the Sooners
With some time on my hands Saturday night and Kansas State dominating Baylor, I figured out all the Big 12 football tiebreaker scenarios.
Then Baylor rallied and beat K-State 32-31, and I had to start over.
Such is Big 12 life in 2020, with the Big 12 standings all messed up. If Texas had beaten Iowa State on Friday (the Cyclones won 23-20), the Big 12 would have a four-way tie in the loss column and things might actually be more clear cut.
As it is, here are a few things we know.
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If Iowa State beats West Virginia on Saturday, the Cyclones are in the Big 12 Championship Game. The Cyclones are the only team that controls its destiny.
Let’s look at some scenarios, remembering the standings: ISU 7-1, OU 5-2, OSU 5-2, Texas 4-3, West Virginia 4-3:
IF OU & OSU WIN OUT
* If the Sooners win out, only one scenario could keep them out of Arlington.
If West Virginia beats Iowa State and OSU wins out (against TCU and Baylor), there would be a three-way tie. Since they all went 1-1 against the other two, the tiebreaker would resort to how ISU, OU and OSU did against the teams in descending order of the conference.
The only way OU could be eliminated is if Texas loses to both Kansas State and Kansas. Such an unlikely finish by the Longhorns would put West Virginia and Kansas State in a tie for fourth, at 5-4. Since both OSU and Iowa State swept the Wildcats and Mountaineers, and OU lost to KSU, the Cowboys and Cyclones would advance.
*. If OU and OSU win out and Iowa State beats West Virginia, it’s OU-Iowa State, since the Sooners win a potential two-way tie with OSU, virtue of their Bedlam victory.
* If OU wins out, OSU wins out and West Virginia beats Iowa State to create the three-way tie, and Texas beats K-State and KU to finish fourth at 6-3, it would be Sooners-Cyclones, since both beat the Longhorns and OSU lost to Texas.
* If OU wins out, OSU wins out and West Virginia beats Iowa State to create the three-way tie for first, and K-State beats Texas, and Texas beats KU, it’s still Sooners-Cyclones. There would be a three-way tie for first and a three-way tie for fourth. Each of the first-place teams would be 2-1 against the three fourth-place teams. The eventual tiebreaker becomes point differential in the games involving the first-place teams. Iowa State beat OU 37-30, OSU beat Iowa State 24-21 and OU beat OSU 41-13. So OU would be plus-21, ISU would be plus-four and OSU would be minus-25.
* The easiest avenue for OSU to make it to Arlington is by winning out and OU losing to either West Virginia or Baylor. That would put the Cowboys against Iowa State in the title game.
* Another path for OSU is even if the Cowboys lose to TCU or Baylor, and West Virginia beats both OU and Iowa State. That would create a three-way tie for second place, with each of OU, OSU and WVU 1-1 against the other two. The next tiebreaker would be how they fared against first-place Iowa State. OSU and West Virginia would have both defeated the Cyclones, sending them to Arlington.
* And yet one final path for OSU is even if the Cowboys lose their final two games, they would win a five-way tie for fifth place with OU, Texas, Kansas State and West Virginia at 5-4. OSU’s victory over Iowa State would be the tiebreaker. Of course, under the same unlikely circumstances, OSU could finish second place outright by just winning one of its final two games.
* OU wins a three-way tie for second at 6-3 with OU, OSU and Texas, since the Sooners beat both the Sooners and Longhorns.
* OU wins a four-way tie for second at 6-3 with OSU, Texas and West Virginia. OU and Texas each would be 2-1 against the other tied teams, and OU’s victory over Texas elevates the Sooners.
Got all that? I didn’t think so. And there are other scenarios that I haven’t considered.
We’ll know more next weekend.
Let’s get to the rankings:
1. Iowa State (7-2, 7-1): The Cyclones’ and Sooners’ conference schedules are identical, except OU has yet to play Baylor. And ISU is a game-and-a-half ahead. That’s a convincing argument.
2. Oklahoma (6-2, 5-2): An OU-ISU rematch would be quite compelling. An OU-KSU rematch would be a rout of epic proportions.
3. Oklahoma State (6-2, 5-2): Give the Cowboys credit. They’ve had their ups, they’ve had their downs, and they’ve clearly been the Big 12’s third-best team.
4. Texas (5-3, 4-3): In seven Big 12 games, Texas has played exactly one that was decisive. The Longhorns beat OSU, West Virginia and Texas Tech in overtime or down-to-the-wire games; the ‘Horns lost to Iowa State, OU and TCU in overtime or down-to-the-wire games.
5. West Virginia (5-3, 4-3): If only the Mountaineers had won in Lubbock, they would be 5-2 and still in the hunt not just for Arlington, but for first place.
6. TCU (4-4, 4-4): The Horned Frogs are sort of the forgotten team in the Big 12.
7. Kansas State (4-5, 4-4): The Wildcats are staggering to the finish line.
8. Texas Tech (3-6, 2-6): The Red Raiders put up a good fight in Stillwater. Maybe Matt Wells should not have benched quarterback Alan Bowman.
9. Baylor (2-5, 2-5): The Bears are showing a lot of life late in the season.
10. Kansas (0-8, 0-7): These late-season games are easier to take now that basketball has started.