Oklahoma State's showing against Tulsa is just another strike against the Big 12 Conference
John. E. Hoover
Oklahoma State’s uneven and at times even reluctant 16-7 victory over an aimless Tulsa team on Saturday was more bad news for the Big 12 Conference.
The league’s credibility takes another hit after an inexplicable 0-3 showing against the Sun Belt Conference last week. Sure, not losing against Tulsa means it was a win, but so was Texas Tech’s 35-33 escape of Houston Baptist seven days prior.
The Big 12 is in freefall.
While that’s not necessarily a shocking development in this season of COVID-19, it is alarming for a league that still hasn’t won a College Football Playoff game.
The CFP selection committee — whenever it does convene to decide a four-team bracket — is going to be wholly unimpressed with the Big 12.
There is a caveat, of course: if Oklahoma or Texas run the table in the Big 12 and win the championship game, they’ll be in the mix for a playoff spot as always. But the league’s regrettable non-conference showing leaves no room for error. In 2020, a one-loss Big 12 champ won’t make the playoff.
That rule, of course, also has an exception. Two, actually.
One, if the rest of college football burns just like the Big 12 is, then all bets are off. The combination of positive COVID tests, relentless contact tracing and injuries (perhaps some of caused by a lack of usual offseason and preseason work) might be the 1-seed in this year’s CFP. A one-loss Big 12 champ gets in along with a 2-loss SEC champ and who knows how many other oddities that could come up.
The other is certainly not out of the ordinary: a one-loss OU or a one-loss Texas — with that loss being to the other — makes it to mid-December with a great chance of getting a CFP invitation.
But that’s it.
OSU was reputed to be the second- or third-best team in the Big 12. If the Cowboys' life without starting quarterback Spencer Sanders isn't noticeably better in conference play, and if the O-State offense continues to labor across the offensive line, the Big 12's third-best team is certainly a matter now open for discussion. Not that OSU isn't it — but that bar has been significantly lowered.
When it comes to the playoff, one thing is clear: the Big 12 has no cushion this year. And after two weeks of games, it doesn’t deserve one.
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