A pair of 5-0 teams clash in Forth Worth on Saturday, as No. 8 Oklahoma State battles No. 13 TCU with possibly a de facto Big 12 title bout berth on the line.
While there is plenty of football to be played, one would think the winner of Oklahoma State at TCU will be in prime position to get to the Big 12 Championship Game in early December.
Although the Cowboys and the Horned Frogs have only played five games apiece, early returns suggest that these are the two best teams in the Big 12 this season. No. 8 Oklahoma State has conference wins over Baylor and Texas Tech, while TCU’s two conference wins are over Oklahoma and Kansas in Lawrence. Whoever gets the leg up in Forth Worth will stand as a strong 6-0 team.
At this point, what is it going to take for the 6-0 winner not to be among the two teams playing for a Big 12 Championship, and potentially a College Football Playoff berth, in early December?
Oklahoma State at TCU winner might as well book its tickets to Arlington already
Looking ahead at TCU’s remaining six conference games, the Horned Frogs will probably play two more ranked opponents: Home vs. Kansas State next week and at Texas on Nov. 12.
Their four other games are at West Virginia, home vs. Texas Tech, at Baylor and home vs. Iowa State. Although the road date in Austin is tough, TCU probably gets to 11-1 if they beat Oklahoma State.
As for the Cowboys, their schedule is considerably tougher. Including TCU, the Pokes have to play four ranked conference opponents in a row: at TCU, home vs. Texas, at Kansas State and at Kansas. They do end the season with a relatively soft portion of their schedule: Home vs. Iowa State, at Oklahoma and home vs. West Virginia. At worst, Oklahoma State will be going 10-2 or so.
For TCU, Saturday is arguably the toughest game the Horned Frogs have left. If they get to 6-0, it is hard to see them doing worse than 4-2 in the back half. Should the Horned Frogs have the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Cowboys, they are getting to Arlington even with a 10-2 record. This would be a huge accomplishment for new head coach Sonny Dykes to even get to Arlington.
With regards to Oklahoma State, a road win at TCU may serve as the necessary jumping-off point to get the Pokes back to the conference title bout. Given that they were one yard short of making the playoff a year ago, one would think an 11-1 Big 12 champion is making the four-team field. Therefore, getting the head-to-head tiebreaker is absolutely massive for Mike Gundy’s Cowboys.
There is a lot of football left, but the winner in Fort Worth Saturday will play for a conference title.