October is almost in the books. And the Big 12 conference race is just now beginning. Only two games have been played among the top-five teams. Meaning eight such games remain.
Let’s quickly review the Big 12 three-way tiebreakers. They’re worth knowing with so many teams still in contention:
1. The records of the three teams will be compared against each other (head-to-head competition).
2. The records of the three teams will be compared against the next-highest placed teams in the conference in order of finish (fourth, fifth and sixth).
3. The highest-ranked team in the BCS standings --– unless two of the tied teams are ranked within one spot of the other. In this case, the head-to-head results of the top-two ranked tied teams shall determine the BCS bowl representative (this stems from the 2008 OU-Texas controversy).
OK, now that’s cleared up, here’s how the conference race shapes up going into the final six weeks:
* If Baylor (7-0, 4-0) won out, it would obviously be the conference champ. Baylor could still win the league with a loss. But in that scenario, a loss to Oklahoma or Texas would pose the biggest problems. The Sooners, because of where they are in the BCS standings. The Longhorns, because they are the only other undefeated team in league play.
* Texas (5-2, 4-0) also controls its own destiny in the Big 12. If the Longhorns won out, they would be the Big 12 champs. If Texas lost, it would have issues. Because they’re still unranked, the Longhorns would not be a good bet to emerge out of any three-way scenario that fell to the BCS standings. Texas, however, might be in the best shape of any of the contenders. The Longhorns have the most favorable remaining schedule, with only one road trip to one of the contenders (at Baylor on Dec. 7). And they already have a victory over OU in the hip pocket. If Baylor handed OU, Tech and OSU their second conferences losses, Texas could still win the Big 12 by knocking off Baylor in the regular-season finale.
* Oklahoma’s title outlook would be looking good with a win at Baylor on Nov. 7. If the Sooners (7-1, 4-1) won out, the only team that could displace them would be the Longhorns, who hold a head-to-head advantage and a one-game lead in the standings. Because of where they rank in the BCS standings, the Sooners would also be formidable in any three-way scenario.
* Texas Tech (7-1, 4-1) is the only team on this list with one loss and no wins over a top-five Big 12 opponent. The Red Raiders could still take the league by winning out, but it would help if the Sooners lost, since OU holds the head-to-head advantage.
* Along with Baylor and Texas, Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1) actually controls its own destiny in the conference race, as well. The Cowboys are the only contender with a loss to a bottom five Big 12 opponent (West Virginia). But if the Cowboys managed to win out, they would own tiebreaker advantages across the board and would secure the Big 12’s BCS bowl bid.
There's still a lot of football to be played. And with five teams still very much in the mix, this could shape up to be one of the most exciting conference races in Big 12 history.