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Bedlam Football: What’s at Stake in the Big 12 Title Race

The winner of Bedlam gets a lightning lane to the Big 12 championship game.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

Oklahoma’s departure from the Big 12 to the SEC is ultimately why there’s only one Bedlam left on the schedule. A month ago it seemed like the Sooners and Longhorns would be throwing their own going-away party in Arlington and one would take the Big 12 trophy as a parting gift.

But now, Oklahoma State is in position to crash its in-state rival’s party in Arlington, and not only dethrone OU, but the Cowboys could even take charge themselves.

Five teams enter Saturday tied atop the Big 12 standings at 4-1 in conference play: OSU, OU, Texas, Kansas State and Iowa State. By Sunday, it’s guaranteed at least two of those teams will suffer its second conference loss.

Obviously there’s Bedlam at 2:30 p.m. Saturday in Boone Pickens Stadium. OU just lost its last game to Kansas for its first loss of the season, as OSU lost its Big 12 opener to ISU and has done nothing but win ever since.

At 11 a.m. Saturday, Texas hosts K-State, as the Longhorns are still without quarterback Quinn Ewers because of injury. OSU is the only Big 12 team to beat K-State so far, while Texas’ only loss was to rival OU.

The Cyclones aren’t in position to sit back and watch those others beat up on each other, though. At 6:30 p.m., ISU will welcome 6-2 Kansas. The Jayhawks just cracked every top 25 poll after upsetting OU a week ago. KU has lost two conference games to Texas and OSU. ISU’s lone Big 12 loss was to OU.

So as four of the five one-loss teams go head-to-head and the odd squad out still gets its own tough matchup Saturday, the Big 12 race could be 4K clear by midnight. Even if only for a week.

Let’s take a look at Bedlam specifically for what’s at stake for OSU in the Big 12.

OSU’s Remaining Schedule
at UCF
at Houston
OU’s Remaining Schedule
West Virginia
at BYU

As for the five teams currently sitting atop the Big 12, OSU and OU probably have the easiest remaining schedules after this week, with the Cowboys having the softest.

UCF has looked tough at times, even competing with OU, but still hasn’t won a conference game in its first season in the Big 12. Houston has looked worse than UCF for the most part but did beat West Virginia thanks to a miracle. BYU, at 5-3 right now, is the most competitive team left on OSU’s schedule after Bedlam. Fortunately for the Cowboys, they get BYU at home and don’t have to make that trip to Provo.

If OSU Wins Bedlam

As cliché as it is to say, the winner of Bedlam is in the driver’s seat for a trip down I-35 to Arlington for the Big 12 title game.

Like previously stated, no matter the winner, that team should be able to cruise to Arlington barring a major slip up. It is the Big 12, though, so that’s always a major possibility.

If OSU wins out, including Bedlam, the Cowboys will be back in the Big 12 title game for the second time after a one-season hiatus. The only team that would hold a tiebreaker over OSU would be ISU. But if ISU wins this week and the rest of the way, too, the Cowboys would still get a chance to avenge that loss as the second-seeded team. How crazy to think in September when we thought OSU losing to ISU meant a doomed season could have actually been a Big 12 championship preview?

With Kansas, Texas and K-State all still ahead, though, the Cyclones’ season could take a U-turn in the opposite direction of Arlington by Dec. 2.

Regardless, what every other team does doesn’t matter to OSU if it wins out, other than who the Cowboys may have the best chance against.

If OSU Loses Bedlam

Make different plans for Dec. 2.

Not saying it’s impossible, but fate would really, really need to be on the Cowboys’ side to still make the Big 12 championship game after a Bedlam loss. And if we’ve learned anything from OSU history, fate hates the Pokes.

OSU would need at least OU and ISU to lose twice sometime in the last three weeks of the season to get into AT&T Stadium over one of them. With ISU’s difficult schedule, though, the Cyclones losing two more times is highly likely.

The Cowboys would get in over two-loss K-State and KU teams.

All kinds of scenarios come into play if it comes down to OSU and Texas getting a rematch with OU, though. But even for that to come into affect, the Longhorns would need to lose again to either K-State, TCU, ISU or Texas Tech.

If it does come down to that, here are the procedures from the Big 12 for a two-team tie to decide which one would get the last spot in the title game, if they didn’t play each other like OSU and Texas.

First: Win percentage against the next highest placed common opponent in the standings (based on record in all games played within the Conference), proceeding through the standings.

Second: Win percentage against all common conference opponents.

Third: Combined win percentage in conference games of conference opponents (ie, strength of conference schedule).

Fourth: Total number of wins in a 12-game season.

Fifth: Highest ranking by SportSource Analytics (team Rating Score metric) following the last weekend of regular-season games.

Desperation: Coin toss

If I’m understanding these hieroglyphics correctly, OU would be the two’s highest placed common opponent, and in this case, both had lost to OU. Draw.

We could predict next would be K-State or ISU. Again, Texas would need another loss along the way, so if it’s to K-State, OSU would get in here if the Wildcats also had two losses. If the Longhorns’ second loss comes via ISU, that probably means in reality the Cyclones are getting in over both unless there’s absolute chaos. But if there is chaos, then both teams would have losses to ISU and wins against K-State. Next.

The rest of the scenarios are so up in the air and nearly impossible to predict that there’s really no need to even waste the brainwidth. That relies on a whole conference’s games in a four-week span.

Again, a Bedlam loss leaves OSU’s Big 12 title hopes in fate’s hands. And fate tends to let the Cowboys slip through its fingers.

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