With just two weeks left to go in the regular season, we actually have one of the participants of the Big 12 Championship Game locked up, with TCU guaranteed a spot in Arlington in a few weeks. Behind them it’s still a bit of a jumble, but K-State now has sole possession of second place, and needs to just win out to secure the other spot.
Currently, the Big 12 has six of the 10 current members locked into bowl eligibility, with two more at five wins, and all 10 still mathematically alive headed into the final two weeks. Three of the four Big 12 newcomers are also bowl eligible, with Houston notching their 6th win last week, and BYU can secure their spot this weekend.
We do have a big change at the top this week, as Tulane finally dropped a game in AAC play, which both drops them and vaults the winner, UCF. Also, OU is darn close to to derping away their season.
With their ugly 17-10 win over Texas, the Horned Frogs move to 10-0 on the season, and have clinched their place in the Big 12 CCG on December 3rd. Of course, they could still drop a game or two before then, but that’s highly unlikely, and wouldn’t matter as far as the Big 12 race is concerned anyway. But as much as it’s unlikely, they still have a very big game this week, as they head down to Waco for an always-intense rivalry game with Baylor. TCU will be looking to avoid the fate the 2014 squad, who lost to Baylor 61-58 effectively ending the Horned Frogs hopes of being in the first College Football Playoff.
(11:00am CT, FOX)
2. Kansas State
Like I said last week, the Wildcats control their own destiny. Win out, and K-State will make its first appearance in the Big 12 Championship Game since a cold night in Kansas City in 2003. The Wildcats, led by Will Howard coming off the bench, trounced Baylor to take firm grasp of second place in the Big 12, and set themselves up for the best season for K-State since the 2014 team ended up at 9-3 and just shy of a share of the Big 12 title (a team that also lost game #3 and at TCU...). Though to get there, the Wildcats will need to beat West Virginia in Morgantown. The Mountaineers are not good, but they have pulled off a couple surprises and looking past them would not be advised.
(1:00pm CT, ESPN+)
The Knights finally slew the mighty Green Wave, handing Tulane just their second loss of the season. With the wins over Cincinnati and now Tulane, UCF is now the favorite to not only make the AAC championship game, but also host the game for the first time since 2018. Not bad for a team that looked to be treading water after a loss to ECU back in October in one of just three games outside of Florida this season (seriously, that is absolutely gifted scheduling there). But they bounced back, and now have won back-to-back road games to put themselves at the top of the AAC standings. Next up is a visit from a tough, but beatable, Navy squad that would love to bring the space-loving Knights back down to Earth.
(10:00am CT, ESPN2) — yes, ten o’clock in the morning in GOTZ. Weird.
The Green Wave have finally fallen off the pedestal at the top of the AAC, despite a late comeback effort at home in their loss to UCF. They have just two losses on the season, and both have come in New Orleans, which is highly unexpected. But they’ll have a chance for a rematch with the Knights in the AAC championship game if they can win their next two. They’ve got SMU this weekend, in a game they should win, though the Ponies are tough, followed by a trip up to Cincinnati to face the Bearcats. They could still get in with a loss in either of the next two, but they’d need SMU and Cincy to lose their other game, both of which are unlikely. SMU is hot right now, and would love to get into the conversation for the AAC CCG.
(6:30pm CT, ESPN)
The Bearcats return to a very familiar spot in the rankings this week — a spot they occupied for four-straight weeks in the middle of the season — thanks to a solid win over ECU at Nippert Stadium. Cincy did need a late field goal to take the lead, but a win is a win, especially over the Pirates, who have been “giant” killers at times this season. This week should be a much easier affair, as the Bearcats head east to the City of Brotherly Love to face a 3-7 Owls team that can score points, but not consistently. If they can gobble up the birds, it sets up a championship game spot-clinching game with Tulane to close the season.(3:00pm CT, ESPNU)
6. Oklahoma State
Just when it looked like the Cowboys might be headed for disaster, Iowa State came along to breathe some new life into the Pokes. It certainly wasn’t pretty, and the injured Spencer Sanders had to come off the bench to help secure the victory (you know things are bad when the coach pulls his own son from the game), but it put OSU back above Baylor and Texas in the standings and in bowl positioning. Though at this point, the Cowboys are out of the Big 12 championship game unless they win out and K-State loses their last two. But they are in great position to help keep OU from becoming bowl eligible, something 9 of the 10 Big 12 teams would love to see. Bedlam is always crazy, and this one is in Norman, but the Cowboys should be able to squeak past the Sooners and lock in Mike Gundy’s 13th 8+ win season.
(6:30pm CT, ABC)
The Bears are 6-4 overall, and 4-3 in Big 12 play, and still somewhat technically alive for the Big 12 championship game, but would need a lot of help to squeak in. The Bears’ best win is over KU back in mid-October, where they managed to hold off a late comeback attempt from the Jayhawks in Waco. But the Bears were held without a touchdown for the first time this season in their loss to K-State, and now have to host another purple powerhouse as TCU is in town this weekend. It’s possible that the Bears can pull off the upset, but it’s more likely this is another blowout loss.
After running roughshod over opponents this season (literally), the Texas rushing attack was limited to just 28 net yards total for the game. And Bijan Robinson had 29 of those. Yeah, that’s not a typo — Roschon Johnson added just 14 yards on 5 attempts, while Quinn Ewers was credited with -15 on 5 attempts (mostly sacks). The only thing that kept the Longhorns alive in the game was a late fumble on a TCU hand-off that was picked up for a scoop-and-score that made the game closer, but the UT offense was impotent all night against the Frogs. Though thanks to their win over K-State two weeks ago, the Longhorns still have a legit shot at the Big 12 CCG, though they’d need to win out and K-State to lose at least one of their last two. But winning out won’t be easy, as they have to go to Lawrence this week to face a KU squad that would love to repeat last year’s performance in Austin.
9. Texas Tech
The Red Raiders returned to their winning ways in Lubbock this past weekend with a 43-28 win over KU. It was the best offensive outing for Tech since their 48-10 win over West Virginia, which was also their last win period. After looking like they might fall apart to end the season, Tech now sits at 5-5 with two winnable games left on the schedule, including the finale in Lubbock against Oklahoma, who could be still be looking to earn bowl eligibility that weekend. Though the toughest game of the pair might actually be this week, as they have to travel north to the frozen
tundra corn fields of Ames to face the Cyclones, who will also be looking to keep their slim bowl hopes alive.
(6:00pm CT, FS1)
The Cougars may be out of the running for the AAC championship (barring an epic collapse from teams above them), but they still have a solid shot at an 8-win season after knocking off Temple to earn bowl eligibility. If they can pull it off, it would be the seventh time in the last 10 seasons that the Cougars would finish with at least eight wins. But to do so, they’ll need to get past a very tough ECU squad in Greenville, NC who would also love to get to eight wins.
(1:00pm CT, ESPN+)
Well, the euphoria didn’t last long in Lawrence as the Jayhawks fell to the Red Raiders 43-28 in Lubbock. KU has clearly been disadvantaged without Jalon Daniels, despite Jason Bean not playing terribly, and the defense is still a work in progress. But regardless, KU is still bowl eligible and still has the opportunity to win back-to-back games over Texas — which, despite it meaning a KU win, is actually a win-win for K-State and K-State fans. KU beating Texas ensures K-State’s place in Arlington (presuming a win in Morgantown), and means another year of Longhorn football tears.
(2:30pm CT, FS1)
12. East Carolina
After a stunning win in Provo to end October, the Pirates came off their bye week a day early and couldn’t quite manage to pull off the upset in Cincinnati, despite a 3rd quarter rally that gave them a one-point lead. ECU will have one more chance at an upset this week as they host a Houston team that is out of contention for the AAC championship, but would still love to finish in the Top 4 before they head off to the Big 12 — though the Pirates would love to assert themselves as the top of the new order as well.
The Cougars made it through their bye week without making any headlines, so that’s probably a good thing for them. They’ve got a 4-6 Utah Tech (previously known as Dixie State) team headed to Provo this weekend, and the FCS Trailblazers should make for easy work for BYU. At 5-5, a win on Saturday would lock the Cougars into a bowl game, and with listless Stanford on the schedule to following week, it’s possible BYU might even make it to seven wins.
(2:30pm CT, ESPN3?)
14. West Virginia
The Mountaineers came from behind to stun the Sooners thanks to back-up QB Garrett Greene, who looked like maybe he should’ve been starting for the ‘Eers more of the season. It feels like WVU won more in spite of Neal Brown’s leadership than because of it, and a couple more wins like that and the Mountaineers players might just do enough for Brown to keep his job for another year. Somebody get on the horn to Morgantown and let them know it would be in their best interest to not do that.
After their road loss to West Virginia, the Sooners are now officially the latest in the season they haven’t already secured bowl eligibility since way back in 1998 — which is also the last time they weren’t bowl eligible. And it’s entirely possible, with two tough games remaining, that the Sooners could miss a bowl for the first time in 24 years. Oh, darn. This week, Bedlam is in Norman, and crazy things always happen, but the Pokes are the better team right now even banged up. Next week’s finale is out in Lubbock, and the Red Raiders may also be looking to lock up bowl eligibility in front of their home crowd.
16. Iowa State
The Cyclones are dangerously close to having their worst season since 2016, Matt Campbell’s first in Ames. At 4-5 heading into last weekend, beating a very depleted Oklahoma State was probably their best bet to pair with this weekend to get to six wins. But with games against Texas Tech and TCU remaining, the best the Cyclones can realistically do at this point is go 5-7, and even that is looking less likely with the Red Raiders regaining their footing somewhat. But it’s going to be a cold night in Ames this weekend, and that tends to cause issues with southern teams, so an upset is possible.
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