Big 12 roundtable: Breaking down the conference title race


Is this week's Big 12 roundtable, we break down where Oklahoma fits in the conference title race, whether there are any other threats to TCU and Baylor, and the chances of Texas making a bowl after starting out the season 1-4:

Does Oklahoma now deserve to be in the top tier with Baylor and TCU?

Jake Trotter: The Sooners have been awfully impressive through the first third of the season. In fact, they've been maybe the most impressive team in the league. But I'm not quite ready to put Oklahoma in the Baylor/TCU tier. The Sooners started out so well in 2013 and 2014, only to be exposed during the second third of the season. So I need to see a little more. But only a little. If the Sooners go to Dallas and stomp Texas, on top of what they've already done, I'll be ready to add them to the top tier.

Brandon Chatmon: Unlike Jake, I’m ready now. Not just because the Sooners have been impressive. Baylor and TCU have done nothing to lose their favorite status but they’ve done nothing to run away and hide either. The Bears, who would be my pick right now, look terrific but not unbeatable. TCU has battled to remain unbeaten but could the offensive trio (Trevone Boykin, Aaron Green, Josh Doctson) that is carrying the load slow down at some point? That’s why the Sooners rise into the top tier has as much to do with Baylor and TCU as Oklahoma.

Max Olson: Well, in our Sept. 17 roundtable, I did say I wanted to see how Oklahoma handled West Virginia before declaring them a Big 12 title contender. After rewatching that game this week, no doubt to me they look like a legit top-10 team. You have to admire how wide-open and fast they’re playing offensively, and their defense attacked West Virginia with purpose.

Beyond that, is there any other Big 12 title threat?

Trotter: Not at the moment. I haven't seen enough from Oklahoma State yet to suggest the Cowboys are capable of winning the Big 12. The running game has been atrocious, and unless they figure out the interior of that offensive line, they're not going to be a serious contender. Oklahoma State could very easily be 0-2 in league play right now. West Virginia and Texas Tech are quality teams, but the Mountaineers' schedule is too brutal and Tech already has two conference losses.

Chatmon: Oklahoma State has the ability to be a threat but it’s not going to happen without its offense becoming more balanced and efficient. The Cowboys have a championship-level defense, so it will fall on the shoulders of the offense to hold up its end of the bargain. This weekend’s game against West Virginia could be a defining performance for Mike Gundy’s team. The Mountaineers would have been on this list but Skyler Howard's sloppiness with the ball against Oklahoma was a scary sight and the loss of Karl Joseph could be too much to overcome.

Olson: I don’t think so. My sense on Oklahoma State through five games is this: I’m not quite sure this team is good enough to win the Big 12, but I do think they’re good enough to beat at least one of the Big 12’s top three teams. TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma all have to travel to Stillwater in November, and one of those three will get tripped up.

What percentage chance does Texas have of making a bowl?

Trotter: In ESPN Stats & Info's FPI projections, Texas has a 2.5 percent chance of making a bowl. That sounds about right to me. After Kansas, where are the other four wins coming from? The Longhorns could beat K-State at home, could win at Iowa State and could defeat Texas Tech in Austin. Even then, the Longhorns would still have to knock off OU, win at West Virginia or somehow upset Baylor just to get to six wins. Any of the latter three are unlikely to happen. And the former three are closer to toss-ups than automatics. At this point, Texas seems more likely to go 3-9 than finish 6-6.

Chatmon: I’ll give the Longhorns a 15 percent chance. The thing about Texas is they have some pieces to work with but they aren’t going to remind you of a team anytime soon. Charlie Strong’s squad is leaning on young players and it shows. What struck me about the embarrassing loss to TCU was the fact the Longhorns don’t look like they have many competitors on the roster. One Daje Johnson fumble, one quick TCU touchdown and the Longhorns were done… that’s not a good look. But, if at some point those players decide to take ownership of what is going on and stop playing the blame game they could put together a late season run to sneak into a bowl game. I’m not counting on it though.

Olson: If I’m putting a percentage on it, maybe 5 percent. They need to win five of their next six games to reach a bowl. That’s just the reality, because that regular season finale in Waco won’t be pretty. Baylor is going to need the playoff style points and will try to put 70 on the Horns. So Texas needs six wins before that one -- with wins over Oklahoma and/or West Virginia -- and I think that’s probably too much to ask of this young team.