Big 12 Football Preview - Week Twelve: CFP Elimination and Bowl Eligibility On The Line

The Big 12 heads down the November stretch with four more football games on Saturday that will all have direct impact on either College Football Playoff bids or bowl positioning.

The Big 12 heads down the November stretch with four more football games on Saturday that will all have direct impact on either College Football Playoff bids or bowl positioning.

THE NOTES

The battle for the league title and top four positions in the Big 12 standings are getting the most attention, but the fight for the final spot in the upper half of the league is also playing out over the playing out over the final three weekends of the regular season. West Virginia is in the driver’s seat at the moment; if the Mountaineers win their final three games they will claim the spot without help from anyone else. Texas and Texas Tech could also grab that fifth spot, but they'll need WVU losses as well as a win in the in the two teams' match-up on Nov. 26.

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Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, assuming they win their games this week, are set for what appears to be a CFP elimination match-up in Bedlam on Nov. 28 in Stillwater. That's assuming the CFP committee rewards the strength of schedule the pair are building with their games against Baylor and TCU this week. OSU obviously is in a better position with zero losses to date, but it would be wildly interesting to see how a one-loss Oklahoma squad would fare against a one-loss Notre Dame (or Alabama, for that matter, although the Tide could apparently lose three games and still ride the wave of the committee's infatuation into a CFP slot).

Although it's very unlikely, given injuries to its quarterback and wide receiver, but what if TCU reverses course and knocks off both Oklahoma and Baylor? Is a one loss TCU out of it? Say what you will, but clearly Oklahoma's more distant loss to a 4-6 Texas team is hurting it less that TCU's loss to an undefeated Okie State.

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Rushing accomplishments in the Big 12 aren't at the level of the passing numbers and milestones, but there are signs that the ground phase of offense is making a comeback in the league. West Virginia and Texas are both basing their attacks on a heavy dose of runs, while Iowa State running back Mike Warren became his school's first 1,000-yard rusher since 2009. Warren is only the seventh player in Big 12 history to reach that plateau. TCU's Aaron Green, Texas' D'Onta Foreman and West Virginia's Wendell Smallwood have both set personal bests in single game rushing totals this year.

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West Virginia has three chances to get the one win it needs for a bowl trip, and barring a total collapse figures to be the sixth league team to reach the qualifying level of six wins. Texas and K-State are both in win or stay home scenarios, as one more loss eliminates them from consideration. The Wildcats have the better chance to do so, as they have Iowa State and Kansas before hosting West Virginia in the season finale on Dec. 5. The Horns, who are off this week, must knock off Texas Tech and Baylor to do get the extra game.

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Baylor, West Virginia and Kansas State are the only three teams in the league who remain perfect on extra points this year. Oklahoma State has missed four to account for more than one-third of the misses in the Big 12

THE PICKS

West Virginia (5-4 / 2-4) visits Kansas  (0-10 / 0-7), with a couple of signs warning of an upset. The Mountaineers are breathing sighs of relief after fashioning a two-game winning streak to get back on an upward trajectory, and with a winless Jayhawk squad on the slate, a letdown in emotional preparation has to be of concern. KU put together an excellent effort in taking TCU to the wire last week, but even though they faced an offense with limited participation from its two biggest playmakers, the Jayhawks couldn't pull out the win. WVU lost the last time it visited Lawrence, but that won't happen again. The point spread is probably too big, but the Mountaineers get the win to become bowl-eligible.

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 Kansas State (3-6 / 0-6) needs to win out in the regular season to get a bowl bid. It's surprising to see the Wildcats halfway through November without a conference win, but they get their first one this week against visiting Iowa State (3-7 / 2-5). The Cyclones pushed undefeated Oklahoma State to the limit last week, but is there anything left in the tank for them to draw on? With a bit more motivation, K-State is the narrow choice.

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Oklahoma State (10-0 / 7-0) escaped an upset bid last week. Baylor (8-1 / 5-1) is coming off its first-ever home loss in McLane Stadium, so getting out on the road to Stillwater might not be a bad thing. Was OSU looking past Iowa State to this game, a factor which could have led to the Cyclones' near upset win? Perhaps, but that won't be the reason the Bears throw the league into even more chaos with an upset win.

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The hottest team in the Big 12, Oklahoma (9-1 / 6-1) gets another chance to build its resume and overcome its mystifying loss to Texas when it plays host to TCU (9-1 / 6-1). The Horned Frogs are bruised and battered, as their best two offensive players probably won't be at 100% efficiency. The concern if that the Sooners might lay another egg like they did against the Longhorns, but the current arcs of these two teams, plus the home venue, makes OU the choice.

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Texas (4-6 / 3-4) and Texas Tech (6-5 / 3-5) are off this week, and play each other on Thursday, Nov. 26.


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