The New Stakes: Texas' Road To The Big 12 Title Game & Miami

Though it's worth spending time dissecting Texas' loss in Lubbock, at heart Longhorns fans want to look forward: Fine, fine. I saw it. And it was painful. But we're not out of these title races yet, are we?

We are not. Below a Sunday morning guide to the New Stakes...

PREPARE TO ROOT FOR... TEAMS FROM OKLAHOMA

At some point, you've probably reasoned with yourself, "The only way I'd root for the Sooners is if..." Well, it's time to complete that thought. The time is now.

INESCAPABLE TRUTH #1: TEXAS TECH CONTROLS ITS DESTINY. If The Red Raiders win out, they're going to Kansas City. If they win in Kansas City, they're going to Miami. Though human voters could in theory vault Penn State up far enough ahead of Tech that the Red Raiders would miss the title game... they won't. An undefeated Big 12 champion is going to play for it all this year.

With that said, if Texas Tech loses one or more game down the stretch, everything's back in play for the Longhorns....

TEXAS TECH REMAINING SCHEDULE

11/08 vs Oklahoma State
11/15 at Oklahoma
11/29 vs Baylor

Scenario 1: Texas Tech loses 2 of 3.  If the Red Raiders drop two of their final three games, the Longhorns--should they win out--would win the South Division and head to Kansas City for the Big 12 Title.

Scenario 2: Texas Tech loses only to OU or OSU, but not both. Now it gets complicated:

  1. Texas must win out.
  2. Team that beats Tech must also win other remaining games, including Bedlam in Norman.

Why #2? If, for example, OSU beat Texas Tech, the Red Raiders beat OU, and then OU defeated OSU, only the Longhorns and Red Raiders would remain as one-loss Big XII South teams. And we lose the head-to-head tiebreaker. So if OSU beats Tech next Saturday, Tech either must lose another game or OSU must subsequently win its final two--including over OU in Norman.

What happens in the event of a three-way tie atop the Big 12 South standings? From the official rules:

  1. The records of the three teams will be compared against each other. (THREE-WAY 7-1 TIE, MOVE TO STEP 2)
  2. The records of the three teams will be compared within their division (THREE-WAY 4-1 TIE, MOVE TO STEP 3)
  3. The records of the three teams will be compared against the next highest placed teams in their division in order of finish (4, 5 and 6) (THREE-WAY 3-0 TIE, MOVE TO STEP 4)
  4. The records of the three teams will be compared against all common conference opponents; (NO LOSSES TO COMMON OPPONENTS TIE; MOVE TO STEP 5)
  5. The highest ranked team in the first Bowl Championship Series Poll following the completion of Big 12 regular season conference play shall be the representative (TA-DA)

Though Texas fans' eyes should remain focused first on the Big 12, the tiebreaker procedure means that we should be looking beyond our borders, as well. Below I've got my projected rooting guide, as broken down by getting to Kansas CIty and Miami.

THE ROAD TO KANSAS CITY: TEXAS FAN ROOTING GUIDE

Root for Oklahoma State over Texas Tech.  This is a tricky one, actually, as an OSU win over Tech, then Tech win over OU, then OU win over OSU would mean Tech to Kansas City. BUT... If Texas Tech loses this game, then we're down just to Oklahoma over Tech in Norman for the Longhorns to win the South. And though Texas can win the various tiebreak scenarios, the two-loss Tech is the only guarantee. (Again, assuming Texas wins out.)

  • If Tech beats OSU: Root for Oklahoma over Texas Tech.  The most realistic one-loss Tech scenario? Probably. Here, Oklahoma would then need to beat OSU to secure the three-way tie in the Big 12 South, moving the tie-break to the BCS Standings.
  • If Tech loses to OSU: Root for Oklahoma over Tech or, failing that, OSU over OU.  If Tech loses to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, Texas goes to Kansas City. If Tech loses to OSU and then beats OU, the Longhorns need the Cowboys to win in Norman.

THE ROAD TO MIAMI: TEXAS FAN ROOTING GUIDE

1. Root for two Texas Tech losses. The path of least resistance to Kansas City.

2. Root for OSU as the one-loss tiebreak team with TX and TTU.  I think we're guaranteed to win that BCS Standings match up.

3. Root for OU as the one-loss tie-break team with TX and TTU. Pretty sure this would come down to Texas or OU. (Tech fans, take note: you probably need to win out to go to KC.) The juicy question would be Texas vs OU in the BCS Standings. Honestly, it'd largely be up to the human voters, who would have to decide between seven-straight Oklahoma and head-to-head winner Texas. I like our chances, especially given that we played Missouri.

4. Root for Texas to destroy its final three opponents.  Style points are in play in many of these scenarios, as Texas may well need help from the human voters to break some ties. Pour it on, Longhorns.

5. Root against TCU.  The Sooners could wind up with a valuable non-con win in their belt if TCU wins out. In any Texas vs OU BCS Standings showdown, the worse TCU finishes, the better.

6. Root for Missouri to win out.  Texas needs this to be as impressive a feather in its cap as possible.

7. Root for Iowa or Michigan State over Penn State. The Nittany Lions' road game at Iowa this Saturday is by far the biggest danger. Iowa's better than most realize. And Sparty ain't winning in Happy Valley.

8. Root for SEC chaos.  If Penn State loses? The Big 12 probably needn't fret: any one-loss champ would likely be Miami-bound. (With an eye on USC.) But if Penn State wins out? The SEC and Big 12 champs may be battling for one spot. In which case Texas fans would want the SEC winner to emerge with as many scars as possible.

9. Root for Texas' non-conference opponents. Reverse course on Florida Atlantic, UTEP, Rice, and Arkansas, cheering them on to strong finishes, which would help Texas in the computers.

10. Root for Cal over USC.  The Trojans should be out of this discussion, but they could do well enough with human voters to spoil here. To be safe, it wouldn't hurt for them to drop one.

11. Root against Oregon State.  Two-bird stone here if Oregon State tanks down the stretch, as USC's loss looks worse and Penn State's win loses value.

12. Root against Ohio State.  Another two-bird stone here if Ohio State flails a bit to close the year: both USC and Penn State lose credit for what could be considered a strong win.

13. Root for Colt McCoy Heisman Hype.  If Colt is the guy receiving the most Heisman hype when all the regular season dust settles, it'll only help with human voters. If you think this is absurd... it is. Welcome to the BCS.

Got all that? Yeah, it's a lot to wrap your head around. And with each passing week we'll have a more precise idea of where things stand and what needs to happen going forward. First up: recover from tonight's loss and wallop Baylor in Austin. And tune in next Saturday night as Mike Gundy brings his Cowboys to Lubbock. For Texas Tech, it'll be the biggest game in program history once again.

Welcome to our hell. And best of luck.

Go Cowboys.

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