The outlook of the Big 12 saw a major shift after some big matchups took place over the weekend. Here’s how things are shaking up for the conference’s top teams:
The Longhorns are on cloud nine, literally. Their No. 9 ranking checks in as the team’s highest in head coach Tom Herman’s short tenure in Austin. Texas won a 48-45 thriller against then-No. 7 Oklahoma after freshman kicker Cameron Dicker hit a 40-yarder through the uprights to win the game. The Longhorns went into the fourth quarter with a 21-point lead, but the Sooners responded with an offensive barrage that tied the game late. Despite losing a three-score lead, Texas got the win and gave the Sooners their first loss of the season.
Texas now has an inside track at the Big 12. With only one loss, the only thing standing in the Longhorns’ way is No. 6 West Virginia. To their advantage, the conference matchup will be in Austin. If the Longhorns continue their winning ways, they will be looking at a possible berth in the Big 12 Championship Game in December.
The Mountaineers almost had a scare last weekend. The Kansas Jayhawks were within one score early in the third quarter, and it felt as if a massive upset could be brewing considering that West Virginia hadn’t been performing up to their usual standards during the game. Then, the Mountaineers regained complete control late in the game, eventually going up 38-14 in the fourth quarter.
Senior quarterback Will Grier and the Mountaineer offense came to life late in the game to push them over the top against Kansas and up in the rankings. West Virginia moved up three spots to No. 6 in the AP Poll and now enters a more difficult stretch of its schedule. The Mountaineers play two ranked opponents in their last six games. It’s over that final stretch that the country will find out how legitimate this team is.
Now sitting at third in the Big 12, the Sooners go into a well-needed bye week. They fell in the rankings after a heartbreaking loss against their archrival, then-No.19 Texas. Defensive coordinator Mike Stoops was fired earlier this week after allowing 48 points to an otherwise inconsistent Texas offense. Though Oklahoma was never expected to be one of the more feared defenses in the country, there was an expectation that its offense wouldn’t have to carry the team in order to win games. The bye week will allow the Sooners to get their house in order before continuing their season.
At this point, a trip back to the College Football Playoff seems far-fetched for Oklahoma. There’s still hope for the Sooners, who have already made the CFP twice in the four years under the new postseason format, but they’ll now need a Big 12 title victory and some outside help as well if they hope to finish this season in the top four. Still, with quarterback Kyler Murray at the helm, it wouldn’t be wise to count Oklahoma out just yet.