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Keeping Up With the Conference: Week 11 Edition

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With college football entering its final month of action, let’s take a look around the Big 12 and NCAA to see how Texas’ opponents fared.

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The past two weeks certainly haven’t gone the way Texas fans would have liked, with two losses by a combined four points. It’s a tough pill to swallow — after all, fourteen days ago, Texas was sitting at number six, with just one loss and their eyes set on a potential College Football Playoff appearance.

Now, those visions of a top four finish are all but gone. Even winning the Big 12 will now require some help, as Texas sits third in the conference and no longer controls its own destiny to wind up in the conference championship game.

However, now’s the time of year you need to account for the un-accountable. Now’s the time of year for chaos in college football.

Some of college football’s best moments come hail from the month of November - just check out this compilation by day from SBNation’s Bill Connelly. And no game this late in the season can be taken for granted — just peruse through this page littered with upsets from the wildest NCAA season ever just 11 years ago.

Point is, no scenario, how wild it may seem, can be counted out with a month of play still to go until it’s mathematically impossible. There’s really only one scenario that can’t be had, and that’s a CFP appearance. However, Texas can still achieve the goals of a Big 12 Championship and New Year’s Six bowl game appearance that many had deemed too optimistic just over two months ago.

Every Big 12 Team has flaws. We don’t have an Alabama in our conference that’s been demolishing teams left and right. Oklahoma leads the conference, but just barely squeaked out a win against a 5-4 Texas Tech last week. And just remember, OU has to end their season at West Virginia.

There’s multiple paths for the Longhorns to wind up in at least second place in the Big 12 come season’s end. And it wouldn’t be out of the realm of possibilities to see Texas wind up in Arlington on December 1 playing for the conference championship.

Texas fans shouldn’t lose hope or faith in this team. Two close losses sting, but haven’t knocked the Horns out of any conference aspirations.

Here’s what happened with the rest of the conference in week 10.

BIG 12 STANDINGS (through Week 10)

  1. (6) Oklahoma (5-1) (8-1)
  2. (9) West Virginia (5-1) (7-1)
  3. (19) Texas (4-2) (6-3)
  4. (22) Iowa State (4-2) (5-3)
  5. Baylor (3-3) (5-4)
  6. Texas Tech (3-3) (5-4)
  7. Oklahoma State (2-4) (5-4)
  8. TCU (2-4) (4-5)
  9. Kansas (1-5) (3-6)
  10. Kansas State (1-5) (3-6)

BIG 12 BREAKDOWN

West Virginia looks like a worthy competitor for OU while Iowa State continues to climb up the trend rankings

(6) Oklahoma

Week 10: W at Texas Tech, 51-46

Highlight: Kyler Murray had a very Kyler Murray game (360 yards, 3 TD, 2 INT passing and 100 yards and 1 TD rushing), but the real MVP for the Sooners’ thrilling win was RB Trey Sermon. Sermon recorded 206 yards and three scores on the ground, including this game-clinching 30 yard run. In all, the Sooners put up 683 yards of total offense on the Red Raiders in a classic Lubbock shootout.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Oklahoma unfortunately took control of first place and their own fate with the two Texas losses, and moves forward with a growing chance to represent the Big 12 again in the CFP. The Sooners still look lost on defense, so they will need to shore that side of the ball up before traveling to WVU at season’s end. This weekend sees OU resume their “rivalry” with Oklahoma State in Norman.

(9) West Virginia

Week 10: W at (17) Texas, 42-41

Highlight: Will Grier had his best game of the season, and put his name back in the Heisman conversation with a 346-yard and three touchdown performance through the air. This late score and subsequent two point conversion sealed a back-and-forth game for the Mountaineers.

Trending: UP. After losing to ISU a few weeks ago, the Mountaineers have pulled off two statement wins to get back into the top 10 ranks. With games against TCU, at Oklahoma State, and vs Oklahoma, it appears more and more likely that the season’s end clash against OU will carry major implications in the Big 12 Championship and CFP races.

Iowa State

Week 10: W at Kansas, 27-3

Highlight: WR Hakeem Butler was a highlight factory on Saturday, totaling 164 yards and two touchdowns on five receptions. This 51 yard catch and run was his second score of the day as he absolutely posterized a hapless defending Jayhawk.

Trending: UP. Granted it was Kansas, but this victory moves the Cyclones into fourth in the Big 12 with a very real shot at making the championship game. Similar to Texas, their chance at a trip to Arlington could come down to the OU-WVU game, as Iowa State holds a tiebreaker with WVU. The Cyclones will host Baylor this week in Ames before traveling to Austin to face the Horns.

Baylor

Week 10: W vs Oklahoma State, 35-31

Highlight: Baylor pulled off the improbable comeback in this game thanks in large part to their vaunted team rushing attack. Eight different players combined for 244 yards on the ground. However, when it was time to go win the game, Baylor turned to the air with this game-winning pass from Charlie Brewer to Denzel Mims.

Trending: UP. Bowl hopes live in Waco, as Baylor got a big win for their fifth of the season. Just one year removed from a 1-11 campaign, head coach Matt Rhule has this team on the door step of a bowl berth. Their first of three chances to clinch a bowl game will come this weekend in a tough match-up at Iowa State.

Texas Tech

Week 10: L vs Oklahoma, 46-51

Highlight: In a gutsy two-QB performance, both Alan Bowman and Jett Duffey threw at will against the Sooners. Both quarterbacks totaled 366 yards on the day with 4 touchdowns and no interceptions. This well drawn screen play resulted in a nifty 45-yard touchdown.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Texas Tech, played some incredibly on-brand football this past weekend, but just couldn’t quite keep up with the Sooners’ fire power in a slug-fest loss. QB Alan Bowman’s health continues to be an issue for the Red Raiders, as he had to exit the game after taking a shot to the ribs. Their next game will be another home night game against a surging offense — this time against Texas.

Oklahoma State

Week 10: L at Baylor, 31-35

Highlight: Despite leading in total yards (523 to 402), possession (32 min to 28 min) and 1st downs (32 to 26), Oklahoma lost in Waco last Saturday. RB Justice Hill had a good game on the ground, as he racked up 119 yards on just 18 carries and logged a score.

Trending: DOWN. This is a bad loss for OSU, especially coming off the heels of a massive victory over Texas in Stillwater. Statistically, OSU outplayed Baylor in nearly every way. However, bad mistakes from the Cowboys, (particularly allowing a blocked punt return for a score) doomed them. With a 5-4 record, OSU is still just quite not bowl eligible. But to get there, they’ll have to win one of at OU, WVU, or at TCU — all tough games on paper.

TCU

Week 10: W vs Kansas State, 14-13

Highlight: TCU got back in the winner’s circle, escaping the weekend with a victory over K-State. The Frogs were really held in check, though, as this dropped-snap, pump-fake, Hail Mary bomb to Jalen Reagor was one of the few exciting moments in an otherwise very Big Ten game.

Trending: UP. In just six weeks, TCU has gone from a No. 15 ranking and playing a close game with Ohio State to losing to Kansas and barely getting by K-State at home. They’ve been solid on defense most of the year, but the wheels have seemed to start to fall off as TCU embarks on what may be the worst season they’ve had as a member of the Big 12. Sitting at 4-5, TCU will head to Morgantown this weekend to try and slow down the Mountaineers.

Kansas

Week 10: L vs (24) Iowa State, 3-27

Highlight: There aren’t many highlights to speak of in a dismal three-point showing at home against Iowa State. RB Khalil Herbert added 91 yards on the ground in what was the lone bright spot for the Jayhawks.

Trending: DOWN. Despite a refreshingly fun start to the year for Kansas, and even being just one week removed from an upset over TCU, the Jayhawk athletic department decided they needed to head in a different direction and fired coach David Beaty following this game. There’s no telling who will replace Beaty come next season, as Kansas’s search has already taken them all across the United States. Kansas will head to Kansas State for their next game.

Kansas State

Week 10: L at TCU, 13-14

Highlight: With K-State, everyone knows exactly what you’re getting. A low-scoring, hard-fought match that takes you back in a time machine to the year 1975 to watch football. The best single play from KSU came early in the game, as this 21 yard strike knotted up the game at 7. But the MVP for the Wildcats was defense, having limited TCU to just 275 yards and 13 first downs on the day.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Unfortunately, a good defensive performance wasn’t enough for the Wildcats in this one. A late score in the fourth quarter should have tied the game, but a missed PAT resulted in a one-point loss for Kansas State. Falling to 3-6, K-State now needs to win out in order to make a bowl appearance. Their next game is a good chance to kick-start a winning streak, with a home game against Kansas.

Out-of-conference observations

Normally, I’ve done full write-ups on each school Texas played this season, including the three out-of-conference schools. The point of this was to provide insight on how those victories and losses stack up now given that those games were so early in the season.

Because Maryland and USC have stumbled to dual 5-4 and records (and mostly because Tulsa is an obscene 2-7), from here on out I will be providing just limited check-ins on our out-of-conference opponents, as these teams are likely to finish with very unspectacular records.

Maryland (5-4)

Week 10: L vs Michigan State, 3-24

Trending: DOWN

Tulsa (2-7)

Week 10: W vs UCONN, 49-19

Trending: UP

USC (5-4)

Week 10: W vs Oregon State, 38-21

Trending: UP

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Texas strength of schedule — 57-49 (.538)

Strength of opponents played 44-36 (.550)

Strength of remaining opponents — 13-13 (.500)

WHO TO WATCH

As mentioned above in the opening statement, college football is wildly unpredictable and this time of year is truly a giant moment of chaos. Rankings, favorites, and win expectancy give way to heisman moments, dramatic rivalries, and the downright absurd things to seemingly always benefit Auburn.

Because of this, we can’t count out any bowl game short of the College Football Playoff as a potential bowl Texas could wind up in.

So, this week’s “Who to Watch” list is dedicated to teams that Texas could theoretically play in a bowl this winter. These games don’t all directly impact Texas, but all of these teams have a chance at winding up on the opposing side of the ticket to whatever game Texas ends up in.

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)

(10) Ohio State [60.2%] at (18) Michigan State — (11:00 AM CT, FOX)

(11) Kentucky [66.5%] at Tennessee — (2:30 PM CT, SEC NETWORK)

Navy at (12) UCF [95.7%] — (11:00 AM CT, ESPN2)

South Carolina at (15) Florida [67.6%] — (11:00 AM CT, ESPN)

(2) Clemson [88.5%] at (17) Boston College — (7:00 PM CT, ABC)

Wisconsin at (20) Penn State [76.3%] — (11:00 AM CT, ABC)

Northwestern at (21) Iowa [77.9%] — (2:30 AM CT, FOX)

LOOK AHEAD

Week 11 Schedule (ESPN FPI projected winner in BOLD, % chance to win in brackets)

TCU at (9) West Virginia [81.4%]

Kansas at Kansas State [72.8%]

Oklahoma State at (6) Oklahoma [88.8%]

Baylor at Iowa State [81.7%]

(19) Texas at Texas Tech [60.2%]

Maryland at Indiana [51.0%]

Tulsa at Memphis [86.2%]

California at USC [68.9%]

PARTING SHOT

Sam for Heisman: