The Big 12 Championship Game was restored for the 2017 season after a 6-year hiatus, which begs the question: how would the new format have looked the years the Big 12 title game was missing?
Oklahoma and TCU will grace AT&T Stadium at 12:30 p.m. ET, Saturday, for the conference crown, which will give fans their first glimpse at the Big 12’s gamble to pit the two teams with the best records in the conference in a rematch.
If Oklahoma beats TCU a second time this season, the Sooners are likely headed to the College Football Playoff. But with a loss? The Big 12 will almost undoubtedly be taken completely out of the College Football Playoff picture.
It’s a risk the conference seems willing to take to ensure its teams have the same amount of “data points” as every other conference champion. So, let’s take a look how the 2017 format might’ve looked the past six seasons:
2011: Oklahoma State (8-1) vs. Kansas State (7-2)
Oklahoma State narrowly beat Kansas State 52-45 in the regular season. Outside of Oklahoma State’s 30-29 victory at Texas A&M that year, no one came as close as the Wildcats did to beating the Cowboys.
This, of course, was the year Oklahoma State was left out of the BCS National Championship. The Week 15 BCS rankings had Oklahoma State at No. 3 behind an Alabama team with an identical record. If Oklahoma State would’ve had the benefit of a conference championship game, it might’ve been enough to get the Pokes into the championship game with undefeated LSU that season (side note: Oklahoma State vs. Les Miles would’ve been phenomenal).
The Cowboys ended up going to the Fiesta Bowl and beat Stanford 41-38 to finish the year with 12 wins. But 2011 will always be a huge “What if?” season for Oklahoma State and the Big 12.
2012: Kansas State (8-1) vs. Oklahoma (8-1)
Kansas State and Oklahoma were co-champions this season, which eventually the conference ditched to have “One True Champion.” The Wildcats beat the Sooners in the regular season in Norman, Oklahoma, but the two met during Week 4 of the 2012 season and the Wildcats only won by 5 points. So, maybe things are different a few months later.
An extra win for Kansas State wouldn’t have solved much in 2012. The Wildcats would’ve had an identical record to Alabama at 12-1 with an extra win, but it’s impossible to know if Kansas State would’ve looked any better in the postseason than it did in its 35-17 Fiesta Bowl loss to Oregon.
The only thing a conference title game does this season is take away someone’s Big 12 championship banner.
2013: Baylor (8-1) vs. Texas (7-2)
2013 was an insane year for the Big 12, and the conference would’ve been forced to use its second tiebreaker scenario. Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas all had a 7-2 record in conference play that season, and here is how it would’ve went down:
First tiebreaker: The Conference records of the three or more teams will be compared against each other in a “mini round-robin” format.
- Oklahoma (1-1) lost 36-20 to Texas and won 33-24 over Oklahoma State
- Oklahoma State (1-1) won 38-13 over Texas and lost 33-24 to Oklahoma
- Texas (1-1) won 36-20 over Oklahoma and lost 38-13 to Oklahoma State
- Everyone stays in contention
Second tiebreaker: The Conference records of the three or more teams will be compared against the remaining team(s) in the Conference standings from top to bottom.
- All three beat fifth-place Kansas State, sixth-place Texas Tech and seventh-place TCU
- Oklahoma and Texas beat eighth-place West Virginia, but Oklahoma State did not, eliminating the Cowboys
- Texas won head to head over Oklahoma, so Texas is in
Baylor beat Texas 30-10 on the last weekend of the regular season, so this would’ve been the first time the Big 12 encountered teams playing each other back-to-back weeks for the sake of a 13th data point. Baylor still probably wins, but who’s to say Charlie Strong doesn’t keep his job a little longer if he leads the Longhorns to an upset win over the Bears for the Big 12 crown and into a BCS game?
2014: Baylor (8-1) vs. TCU (8-1)
Baylor was the outright winner of the conference, because of its head-to-head win. But that 61-58 thriller between Baylor and TCU in 2014 was early enough in the season that if the two met a couple of months later in early December, it could’ve been exactly what the Big 12 needed to make it into the first playoff.
TCU was ranked No. 3 and Baylor was No. 6. Surely, a top-6 win for either team would’ve helped them reach the College Football Playoff, right? This season was a huge reason why the conference pushed to re-add the Big 12 championship game without expanding.
But playoff implications aside, who didn’t want to see these programs play each other one more time?
2015: Oklahoma (8-1) vs. Oklahoma State (7-2)
Oklahoma State and TCU were both 7-2 to end the season, but the Cowboys came away with the regular-season win over the Frogs. So, Oklahoma State would been granted a date with Oklahoma back-to-back weeks.
The Sooners won 58-23 in the regular-season meeting. Like this season for Oklahoma, a Big 12 Championship Game could’ve done more damage than good as far as making the playoffs. Oklahoma’s Baker Mayfield could’ve maybe swayed enough Heisman voters to at least get an invite to New York City for the Heisman Trophy presentation, but that’s about the only positive Oklahoma could’ve taken away from playing Bedlam back-to-back weeks.
2016: Oklahoma (9-0) vs. Oklahoma State (7-2)
Oklahoma State would’ve tied West Virginia for second place, but would’ve went to the Big 12 Championship Game with its head-to-head win over the Mountaineers. Once again, Bedlam would’ve been played back-to-back weeks.
In this scenario, however, a 2-loss Oklahoma team could’ve benefitted from an extra win to beef up its College Football Playoff résumé. The Sooners were left out after losing to Houston and Ohio State early in the season, so a Big 12 title game could’ve helped Oklahoma makes it case. The Sooners did just fine beating the brakes off Auburn, however, in the Sugar Bowl and sending out the now-retired Bob Stoops with a win.
The post How the Big 12 Championship Game would’ve looked from 2011-2016 appeared first on Diehards.