Texas Football: Updated Big 12 Title Race After Eventful Saturday

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What an eventful Saturday of football it was around the country, kicking off with Texas football being pushed to the brink by the No. 23 ranked Kansas State Wildcats in FOX’s Big Noon Kickoff Game of the Week.

The win for the Longhorns was monumental for several reasons.

It moved them atop the Big 12 standings with the ability to control their destiny regarding Big 12 Championship Game hopes. The Horns, sitting at 8-1 (5-1), are in about as good of a position as one could have hoped when previewing this team in August.

Secondly, the win marked another week toward recovery for starting quarterback Quinn Ewers. The redshirt sophomore suffered a sprained AC join in his throwing shoulder in the third quarter of the Longhorns’ Oct. 21 win over Houston.

Sorting out the Big 12 after Texas football beats No. 23 Kansas State in Week 10

The expected timeline for Ewers was 3-4 weeks, and there has been positive momentum regarding his recovery. FOX’s Bruce Feldman reported that Ewers “did throw on Thursday,” and Coach Steve Sarkisian said he is “moving in the right direction” during his postgame press conference.

Maalik Murphy has had his ups and downs in nine quarters as the Texas starting quarterback, exemplified by his play on Saturday.

All that said, Texas football left Saturday in a better position than it entered it.

Elsewhere around the Big 12, we saw Oklahoma State eke out a 27-24 win over Oklahoma in the final scheduled edition of Bedhlam. It was the second consecutive loss for the Sooners, dropping them to 4-2 in conference play. For the Pokes, the win moved them to 5-1 in the Big 12 with the ability to control their championship game destiny the rest of the way.

In the nightcap, the Kansas Jayhawks backed up their upset win over Oklahoma with a 28-21 complete win in Ames. Both teams now sit at 4-2 in Big 12 play.

Let’s take a closer look at the top of the Big 12 after Week 10.

Big 12 Conference Standings:

  • Texas Longhorns: 5-1
  • Oklahoma State Cowboys: 5-1
  • Kansas Jayhawks: 4-2
  • Oklahoma Sooners: 4-2
  • Kansas State Wildcats: 4-2
  • West Virginia Mountaineers: 4-2
  • Iowa State Cyclones: 4-2

With massive wins on Saturday, Texas and Oklahoma State sit alone atop the conference standings. It is simple for both teams: win your final three Big 12 games, and you will find yourself in Arlington on Dec. 2.

For Texas, that includes trips to Fort Worth and Ames before hosting Texas Tech in the final regular season game of the season. For the Pokes, they will take road trips to UCF and Houston before wrapping up the regular season by welcoming BYU to Stillwater.

Because Texas and Oklahoma State do not square off in the regular season, if a tiebreaker is needed between the two, it will come down to the win percentage against the next highest-placed common opponent in the standings (based on record in all games played within the conference), proceeding through the standings. This tiebreaker would also be applied between Texas and West Virginia (if needed).

If the Horns do not take care of business down the stretch, they could still find a way to Arlington.

Of the five teams with a 4-2 conference record, Texas holds the head-to-head tiebreaker over Kansas and Kansas State, meaning the Horns would have to drop two of their final three games for either squad to have a chance at supplanting them in the Big 12 Title Game. The Sooners hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Longhorns, so as long as Oklahoma handles its business to finish the season, one Texas slip-up puts them behind the Sooners.

Finally, despite the loss on Saturday, the Iowa State Cyclones are still in a solid position with three regular-season games remaining. Suppose they handle business next week against BYU, a massive matchup with Texas on Nov. 17 looms. If the Cyclones can win that game, they put themselves in a prime position ahead of the Longhorns in the Big 12 standings.

To summarize, here are the three main takeaways for Texas football and the Big 12 after Saturday.

  1. Texas and Oklahoma State control their destinies in the conference.
  2. There are seven teams within one game of first place, all with a realistic shot to wind up in Arlington.
  3. Texas has to take it one game at a time, but the Nov. 17 matchup in Ames will likely have massive conference championship implications.

Another week, another nail-biting Texas win. Let’s hope our blood pressure isn’t tested as much next week in Fort Worth (no promises).

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