As Kevin Garnett famously said, “Anything is possible!”
If that is, in fact, true, could the Big 12, after sending just Oklahoma to the College Football Playoff in 2015, be represented with two teams competing for a National Championship to cap the 2017 season?
Once again, as Garnett said, “Anything is possible!”
Jerry Palm of CBS Sports explained how this could prove true for the Big 12, although the scenario is quite unlikely.
“The scenario for two Big 12 teams is similar to that of the ACC. The winner of Bedlam would have to beat an undefeated TCU in the title game and not have lost again otherwise, leaving two 12-1 teams. The problem for the Big 12 is that only Oklahoma did anything of note outside the league. A 12-1 TCU is the least playoff-worthy of the potential 12-1 teams we have talked about, except for Wisconsin.”
As it stands, No. 4 TCU boasts the most clear-cut path to the College Football Playoff, courtesy of an unblemished 7-0 record. Oklahoma and Oklahoma State join TCU in the top-10 at No. 9 and No. 10, respectively, with each owning 6-1 records. As Palm noted, the winner of the Nov. 4 Bedlam battle between the Sooners and Cowboys would have to rip through their rest of their schedule and ultimately, top TCU in the Big 12 Title game.
For the Big 12 to actually send two teams to the College Football Playoff, though, Oklahoma seemingly stands as the team that needs to win out, as the Sooners boast a Week 2 road win over then-No. 2 Ohio State. But that would mean the Oklahoma beats TCU in Week 11, and at that juncture in the season, a loss likely ends all hopes of a playoff berth.
Although Oklahoma State is ranked just one spot behind the Sooners, the Pokes resume doesn’t feature such a notable non-conference win, which has proven essential throughout the College Football Playoff’s short history, and even dating back to the BCS era. But Oklahoma State is projected to win out, per ESPN’s FPI, and if TCU can do the same, the Big 12 Championship game will feature a Horned Frogs team firmly in the top four and a Cowboys team likely slotted at No. 5 or No. 6 after ranked wins over West Virginia and Oklahoma.
That’s just the beginning of the complications, though.
If this exact scenario did come to fruition, a one-loss Oklahoma State squad certainly couldn’t afford another defeat before the committee makes its decision. But for the Big 12 to send two teams to the playoff, the Cowboys also couldn’t handily hand TCU its first loss of the season, either, as the final score would need to leave the committee feeling as if both have simply exchanged close wins as top-five foes to end the season.
Not to mention, the Big 12 could use some assistance from other conferences beating up on each other, as No. 2 and No. 6 Ohio State will square off in Week 9 and No. 1 Alabama and No. 3 Georgia appear primed for a SEC Championship showdown.
If it seems as if a lot of moving parts would have to align perfectly for this scenario to play out and thus, for the Big 12 to send two teams to the College Football Playoff, that’s because that’s the reality. And it’s worth noting that the last time the Big 12 featured a pair of playoff-worthy programs to cap the regular season was 2014, in which 11-1 TCU and 11-1 Baylor were each controversially snubbed in favor of eventual National Champion Ohio State.
Of course, such a situation brought forth the discussion and ultimate reinsertion of a Big 12 Title game after the lack of one was credited for the Horned Frogs and Bears being left on the outside looking in during the College Football Playoff’s inaugural year.
Now, three years later, it seems the Big 12 Title game could be what sends two league members to the playoff, or worse yet, eliminates the conference from the conversation, entirely.
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