Welcome to the Big 12 Weekly Must-Win.
In this series, we’ll evaluate which Big 12 program is faced with a must-win game each week based on a variety of circumstances — recent record, upcoming schedule, the timeliness and impact a loss will have on the rest of the season, and other factors.
This week’s spotlight focuses on a pair of powers fighting for Big 12 supremacy and for their College Football Playoff lives: Oklahoma and TCU.
For reasons essentially identical to the Week 10 showdown in Bedlam, the top-10 Week 11 matchup between Oklahoma and TCU is an absolute must-win for each of the two national powers.
The latest College Football Playoff rankings released on Tuesday, slotting the Sooners and Horned Frogs at Nos. 5 and 6, respectively. This ranking not only leaves the Big 12 on the outside looking in with work to do yet again, but in what will be the most highly ranked Big 12-centric showdown of the season, a statement win may very well be what pushes one of the two into the top four.
But for the loser, with two regular season games remaining after Saturday, there’s little remaining room for resume-building. Oklahoma and TCU sit at 8-1 after Iowa State notched upsets over each this season.
Kansas and West Virginia are remaining for Oklahoma. Texas Tech and Baylor round out the Horned Frogs’ regular season, Saturday could prove to be the last opportunity for each to record a ranked win prior to bowl season.
Simply put, if making the College Football Playoff is the end goal, such aspirations come to a screeching halt at Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium with a loss on Saturday.
With an Oklahoma win, the Sooners would earn their second ranked victory in as many weeks and third overall after beating then-No. 11 Oklahoma State and then-No. 3 Ohio State.
A TCU triumph win would mark the Horned Frogs’ third ranked victory of the season. And with the game against the 5-1 Sooners, Saturday’s winner claims the inside track to the conference’s regular-season championship.
“TCU moves up to two spots to No. 6 in the CFP rankings, and is quietly in terrific shape heading into a showdown at Oklahoma,” ESPN’s Jake Trotter said. “Beat Baker Mayfield and the Sooners in Norman, and it’s not unthinkable that TCU could be on the inside of the top four next week.”
Per Hocutt, TCU defense getting lotta respect from committee. They can really deliver a statement against the best offense in the country
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) November 8, 2017
Recently, history certainly seems to fall in favor of the Sooners.
Oklahoma won the last two meetings, including a 52-46 road victory last season. The Sooners have also won five of the last six meetings with TCU, and the Horned Frogs haven’t won in Norman since 2005.
Whoever wins will have a substantial say in what the College Football Playoff rankings look like next week.
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