With big changes coming to the Big 12 Conference in 2023, the conference will be losing some of its powerhouse teams. With that being said, the conference still has some talented rosters that could make a push for the College Football Playoff, this year. Here’s the Big 12’s path to the playoff.
Sooner (Rather Than Later)
With the Oklahoma Sooners poised to join the SEC by 2025, their time to win the Big 12 and return to the College Football Playoff is dwindling. While a playoff appearance is certainly not out of reach for the Sooners, the four-time participants will play a tougher schedule moving into the SEC alongside CFP frequents Georgia and Alabama. However, with the playoff expanding to 12 teams in 2026, there is still a major opportunity.
The Sooners head into week three ranked No. 6 after back-to-back dominating performances to open their 2022 campaign. Quarterback Dillon Gabriel has looked phenomenal in his first two contests throwing for over 500 yards and five touchdowns. Additionally, he has yet to turn the ball over.
There were a lot of questions in Norman after the departure of head coach Lincoln Riley, starting quarterback Caleb Williams and a slew of assistant coaches. The team also lost highly ranked recruits.
— PFF College (@PFF_College) September 15, 2022
The looming Big 12 schedule is yet to begin for the Sooners, but they still hold a chance to make some noise in the CFP conversation.
Championship Craving Cowboys
In 17 years with Mike Gundy at the helm, Oklahoma State has only missed a bowl game once: his first year back in 2005.
However, the Cowboys have not won the Big 12 since 2011.
In the current playoff format, it is almost impossible to come out of the Big 12 without the conference championship and make the CFP. So what does Oklahoma State need to do to take those steps this year?
Quarterback Spencer Sanders, who had his best year in 2021, returns with revenge on his mind after a loss to Baylor in last year’s Big 12 Championship.
My Heisman Front Runners
1 @AlabamaFTBL QB Bryce Young
2 @GeorgiaFootball QB Stetson Bennett
3 @GatorsFB QB Anthony Richardson
4 @CowboyFB QB Spencer Sanders
5 @UNCFootball QB Drake Maye pic.twitter.com/C5opUIXzWf
— Robert Griffin III (@RGIII) September 9, 2022
In order for Oklahoma State to make another run to the playoff, they’ll need to replace the offensive production they lost from last year as well as find some consistency on defense.
The Cowboys gave up 44 points to Central Michigan in their opening game, which will be a disadvantage against some of the more explosive offenses in the conference.
Holding on to Hope
Texas and Baylor are the only other teams that appear to have a chance at the CFP. But they both hold a 1-1 record after the Bears fell to BYU and the Longhorns fell to Alabama, last week. What does this mean for both team’s playoff chances?
If last year taught us anything, it’s that they don’t have to go undefeated. However, two losses could be the difference between the playoff and the Music City Bowl. Oklahoma State lost to Iowa State in the middle of the season last year and entered the Big 12 Championship ranked No. 5. It was almost guaranteed that a win over No. 9 Baylor in the championship game would have lifted Oklahoma State into the CFP.
So the road is still open for both the Bears and Longhorns but it certainly becomes more difficult with the need to win out to get into the Big 12 Championship.
Texas will be without starting quarterback Quinn Ewers for the next couple of weeks due to a neck injury. It will be up to Hudson Card to define the direction Texas will go. Card will likely be the starter against Oklahoma in October, which will be a make-or-break game for the Longhorns.
Quinn Ewers is so freaking good that if he's back in time for OU, this Texas team will win the Big 12.
*and if Hudson Card is healthy enough to get through UTSA, TTU and WVU https://t.co/Xh0QE0n6ii
— Trey Scott (@TreyScott247) September 14, 2022
As for Baylor, the Bears lose their starting quarterback Gerry Bohanon, leading rusher Abram Smith and leading receiver Tyquan Thornton. Bohanon transferred to USF while Smith and Thornton left for the NFL.
On the defensive side, Jalen Pitre, the reigning Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year and consensus All-American, was also lost to the NFL Draft.
The Bears have the talent, but they’ll need to knock off Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State for their hopes of a playoff berth to remain alive.