During the Big 12’s in-game commercials, it boasts about how hard it makes it for one of its teams to make the College Football Playoff. I’m not entirely sure that’s something to brag about, but if national titles aren’t your highest priority, it’s not hard to see the draw of the Big 12’s round-robin-with-a-bonus-round schedule at the moment.
Thanks to Oklahoma State’s 38-35 win over Texas on Saturday night in Stillwater, we prepare for the second half of the Big 12 schedule with five teams — half the conference — within a game of first place and/or a spot in the conference title game.
Your current standings:
- Oklahoma (4-1, 7-1)
- West Virginia (4-1, 6-1)
- Texas (4-1, 6-2)
- Iowa State (3-2, 4-3)
- Texas Tech (3-2, 5-3)
Next week, Texas hosts West Virginia, and Oklahoma visits Texas Tech. Iowa State heads to Kansas for a likely win, which means if Tech beats the Sooners, a) the conference will indeed have just about eliminated itself from the national title race, and b) the WVU-Texas winner would be 5-1 in conference, with four teams tied for second.
This is nutty and could get nuttier.
With a 2-3 conference record, OSU probably isn’t in position to matter in the race just yet, but the Cowboys still played their part on Saturday night. After losing three of last first four games, including disappointing showings at home against Tech and ISU, they put together their best performance of the season since the early-season romp over Boise State.
The Pokes bolted to a 31-14 halftime lead (thanks to two fourth-down scores) and out-gained the Horns by 100 yards, 502-402.
Taylor Cornelius was key. The fifth-year senior and former walk-on played the best game of his career, completing 23 of 34 passes for 321 yards, three scores, and no picks. He and Tylan Wallace connected 10 times for 222 yards and two scores, and with OSU’s 17-point lead down to three points midway through the fourth quarter, Cornelius was responsible for two huge runs, too: a 15-yarder to set up first-and-goal at the UT 1 and a 10-yard score on third-and-goal.
In need of one final first down to ice the clock late, he again kept the ball and moved the chains, sealing the win. Things got chippy from there, of course, but don’t let that distract you from Cornelius’ awesome night.
Texas was probably due a tough night.
The Longhorns have mastered the art of living dangerously this season. They were brilliant against their two biggest-named opponents of the year — USC (Texas won, 37-14) and Oklahoma (the Horns survived, 48-45) — but lost to Maryland and seriously considered doing the same in one-possession wins against Tulsa, Kansas State, and Baylor, who have a combined record of 8-16.
Head coach Tom Herman has proved pretty adept at flipping the switch in key games or moments, and the Horns did nearly come all the way back, but the law of averages caught up to them.
The Texas defense, mostly solid in 2018, got torched early on, allowing 260 yards in the first quarter and 378 by the half. Four consecutive second-half stops gave the offense a chance to find a rhythm, but the early damage was too much to overcome.