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Keeping Up With the Conference: Week 12 edition

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With a pedestrian Week 11 in the books, KUWTC shifts its focus towards the tight Big 12 conference race

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With just two more games remaining on the Texas Longhorns schedule, the postseason is beginning to take shape as bowl destinations become more clear. And though Week 11 lacked in drama and upsets nationwide, it provided us all the framework to start projecting conference championship games and who’s going bowling.

Unlike past years, Texas is not on the bowl bubble at this point in the season. Having notched their seventh victory in dramatic fashion last Saturday in Lubbock, the Longhorns guarantee themselves a winning record in a season that’s undeniably been a step in the right direction from last year and the Strong era.

However, how Texas finishes the season can really dictate just how big that step forward is.

Sitting at Third in the Big 12, Texas can still make the Big 12 Championship game with a little help from our friends in Lawrence, Stillwater, or Morgantown. As this graphic illustrates, there’s a few ways Texas can find itself playing in Arlington on December 1st.

So in short, there’s a few ways Texas can make it to the top two of the conference by the end of the month. They’ll have to win out and get some help, but it’s within the realm of possibilities.

With the race to the top two coming down to the wire, every conference game matters. Even the ones that don’t directly involve Texas have ripple effects that can affect conference seeding and play as the season closes.

With that being said, let’s take a look at how each team did last weekend.

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 11)

  1. (6) Oklahoma (6-1) (9-1)
  2. (9) West Virginia (6-1) (8-1)
  3. (19) Texas (5-2) (7-3)
  4. (22) Iowa State (5-2) (6-3)
  5. Baylor (3-4) (5-5)
  6. Texas Tech (3-4) (5-5)
  7. Oklahoma State (2-5) (5-5)
  8. TCU (2-5) (4-6)
  9. Kansas State (2-5) (4-6)
  10. Kansas (1-6) (3-7)
West Virginia leads the way as the Big 12 + Texas opponents power rankings shake out for Week 12

BIG 12 BREAKDOWN

(6) Oklahoma

Week 11: W vs Oklahoma State, 48-47

Highlight: There was no shortage of firepower in this game, as the Sooners hung 702 total yards on the Cowboys. Oklahoma’s longest play of the game showcased QB Kyler Murray’s arm, as he connected with WR Marquise Brown for a 51 yard touchdown.

Trending: DOWN. Despite the thrilling win to keep OU in control of their own destiny, they continue to look absolutely lost on the defensive side of the ball. After giving up 640 yards to OSU, it’s becoming apparent that the problems OU has had on defense don’t just end at Stoops’ feet. Oklahoma hosts Kansas in what should be a tune-up before a showdown at West Virginia.

(9) West Virginia

Week 11: W vs TCU, 47-10

Highlight: West Virginia put together one of their better all-around performances of the season last weekend. To celebrate the release of Fallout 76, QB Will Grier dropped bombs all over the Frogs, including this 32 yard pass coming off a beautiful fake to end the first half.

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Mountaineers hold true to form in an absolute beat down over TCU. A potentially daunting trip to Stillwater awaits WVU this weekend, but should they get past OSU, a huge game vs Oklahoma awaits them in Morgantown to close the season. That game will carry huge Big 12 and College Football Playoff implications.

(16) Iowa State

Week 11: W vs Baylor, 28-14

Highlight: The Cyclones hold the longest current winning streak in the conference, as they picked up their fifth in a row to improve to 6-3 on the year. QB Brock Purdy accounted for 286 total yards, and ran for one TD and threw for another — this strike through traffic to WR Deshaunte Jones.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Hidden in a relatively boring box score was a huge scuffle between players, as a brawl broke out in the third quarter. Because of this, Iowa State will be without star RB David Montgomery for the first half of this weekend’s game at Texas. In a “loser-leaves-town” for the Big 12 game, that could be disastrous in what should be a closely contested game.

Baylor

Week 11: L at (22) Iowa State, 14-28

Highlight: Iowa State jumped out to a 20-0 lead, then coasted to a victory. However, Baylor’s offense was able to put a bunch of yards (505) despite only putting up a few points (14). This late touchdown strike from QB Charlie Brewer halved the scores, as he delivered a dime in the back of the end zone to WR Pooh Stricklin.

Trending: NEUTRAL. An ugly loss for the Bears, but given the circumstances of going to Ames and facing the best defense in the Big 12, a 14-point loss isn’t too bad to scoff at. Baylor has looked consistently mediocre all season, and need just one more win to clinch at least a mediocre 6-6 season. They play TCU in Waco this Saturday.

Texas Tech

Week 11: L vs (19) Texas, 34-41

Highlight: The Raiders found themselves in a pair of 17-point holes in the fourth quarter. This 57 yard touchdown pass started the comeback for Texas Tech, which ultimately tied the game but lost at the hands of Lil’Jordan Humphrey.

Trending: UP. Despite the loss, Texas Tech has now shown it can hang with all the best in the conference. The fiery comeback resulted in a one-possession loss, a result they can claim with the other top three Big 12 schools as well. Tech will look to get back on track and clinch a bowl berth this weekend at Kansas State.

TCU

Week 11: L at (9) West Virginia, 10-47

Highlight: There weren’t many highlights for the guys in purple, as WVU’s staunch defense held TCU to just 10 points and 222 yards of total offense, including -7 yards of total rushing. The lone TCU touchdown of the day came from a 28 yard TD pass to WR Jalen Reagor in a game that had already been decided.

Trending: DOWN. TCU falls to 4-6 on the season after another dismal offensive performance. Tough, but winnable, games at Baylor and against OSU await them, as the Frogs look to win out in order to clinch a bowl game.

Kansas State

Week 11: W vs Kansas, 21-17

Highlight: A ho-hum game between arguable the two worst teams in the conference resulted in a low scoring affair. The game didn’t lack for drama, though, as this late scramble and score from QB Alex Delton put K-State up for good.

Trending: NEUTRAL. The disappointing season for the Wildcats just won’t die, as K-State clings to a .500 season sitting at 4-6. Their next game is at home against a Texas Tech team coming off two close, painful losses to Oklahoma and Texas.

Oklahoma State

Week 11: L at (6) Oklahoma, 47-48

Highlight: In a back-and-forth Bedlam game, Oklahoma State had their backs against the wall late in the game. Down seven, facing a fourth down and twelve to go with just 1:09 left in the game, QB Taylor Cornelius threw a strike to WR Tylan Wallace for a clutch, last minute TD.

Trending: UP. Unfortunately, the choice to go for two wasn’t fruitful, as OSU failed to convert and lost the game by one. The loss is encouraging, though, as the Cowboys hung with OU on the Sooners’ turf in what many expected to be a blowout. OSU will host WVU this Saturday, as the Cowboys hope to notch their sixth win and garner a bowl berth.

Kansas

Week 11: L at Kansas State, 17-21

Highlight: This low-scoring defensive slug-fest didn’t have very many big plays to go around, but one managed to find it’s way to the Jayhawks’ side of the ball. This 65 yard touchdown pass to open the fourth quarter put Kansas on top of K-State late in the game.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Kansas will end their season facing Oklahoma in Norman and hosting Texas in Lawrence. Most likely, this was their last good chance at a victory.

Out-of-conference observations

Maryland (5-5)

Week 11: L at Indiana, 32-34

Trending: NEUTRAL

Tulsa (2-8)

Week 11: L at Memphis, 21-47

Trending: DOWN

USC (5-5)

Week 11: L vs California, 14-15

Trending: DOWN

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Texas strength of schedule — 61-57 (.517)

Strength of opponents played 52-47 (.525)

Strength of remaining opponents — 9-10 (.474)

WHO TO WATCH

Sitting at 15 in the CFP rankings means Texas is within striking distance of a New Year’s Six bowl game. Of course, Texas is forever within striking distance of a return to the Texas Bowl in Houston.

So, this week’s “Who to Watch” list is dedicated to teams that currently stand in Texas’ way of an NY6 bowl game, should the Longhorns win out. These games all directly impact Texas, as all of these teams have a chance at winding up on the opposing side of the ticket to whatever game Texas ends up in, as well as preventing the Horns from ending in the top 12.

Here’s the short list of games this week that Texas fans should tune into: (ESPN FPI projected winner in BOLD, % chance to win in brackets)

(12) Syracuse vs (3) Notre Dame [74.9%] — (1:30 PM CT, NBC)*

(10) Ohio State [82.0%] at Maryland — (11:00 AM CT, ABC)

(24) Cincinnati at (11) UCF [69.8%] — (7:00 PM CT, ABC)

Idaho at (13) Florida [98.8%] — (11:00 AM CT, ESPNU)

(14) Penn State [96.8%] at Rutgers — (11:00 AM CT, Big Ten Network)

Middle Tennessee at (17) Kentucky [86.9%] — (11:00 AM CT, SEC Network)

* Game is being played at Yankee Stadium

LOOK AHEAD

Week 12 Schedule (ESPN FPI projected winner in BOLD, % chance to win in brackets)

TCU [53.5%] at Baylor

(9) West Virginia [63.5%] at Oklahoma State

Texas Tech [75.4%] at Kansas State

Kansas at (6) Oklahoma [97.1%]

(16) Iowa State at (15) Texas [66.7%]

(10) Ohio State [82.0%] at Maryland

Tulsa at Navy [57.3%]

USC [62.3%] at UCLA

PARTING SHOT