TCU quarterback Max Duggan (15) throws a pass during the first half of an NCAA college football game against West Virginia in Morgantown, W.Va., Saturday, Oct. 29, 2022. (AP Photo/Kathleen Batten)

Big 12 in the CFP Rankings

The first College Football Playoff rankings dropped Tuesday night, and we finally have our first look at the CFP committee’s top 4. The biggest surprise of the new rankings was Tennessee grabbing the top spot, with the AP Poll No.1 Georgia Bulldogs coming in at No. 3.

The Big 12 came into the year with a couple of teams holding CFP aspirations, but heading into week 10, the standing in the Big 12 look quite different. Let’s take a look at where the Big 12 falls in the first CFP rankings.

TCU Debuts at No. 7 in CFP Rankings

The Horned Frogs are the Big 12’s lone undefeated team. As a result, they have the most direct path to the playoff. Looking ahead at the four remaining games for TCU, four unranked opponents with a combined record of 8-13.

Max Duggan has made a name for himself and given himself Heisman trophy potential. Duggan leads the Big 12 in passing yards and touchdown passes but will need to continue to stay hot down the stretch if he hopes to keep TCU’s playoff hopes alive.

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The Horned Frogs have never had a playoff appearance, although they narrowly missed the CFP in the inaugural 2014 season, finishing the season at No. 6.

A Big 12 Championship appearance is a must if the Horned Frogs want in on the playoff. However, as we’ve seen in the past, a conference championship does not guarantee a spot in the field of four. TCU will make it nearly impossible for the committee to turn them away, however, if they go undefeated and win the Big 12.

Many football figures took to Twitter following the ranking release to voice displeasure about where the Horned Frogs landed in the rankings, noting that TCU’s resume is more impressive than Clemson and Alabama’s, both of which found themselves above the Horned Frogs.

Wildcats in CFP Rankings for First Time Since 2019

No. 13 Kansas State is the only other Big 12 team ranked in the top 15. An early season win against then-ranked No.6 Oklahoma kicked off a 3-game win streak and led the Wildcats to an impressive 5-1 start. The loss to TCU was huge, but a dominating 48-0 win over Oklahoma State last week keeps the Wildcats in the picture.

Despite having two losses with four games still to go, coming in at No. 13 in the first rankings makes it clear that the committee has a lot of respect for Kansas State’s resume. ESPN gives the Wildcats the 16th-best strength of record in the nation.

Quarterback Adrian Martinez did not play Saturday against Oklahoma State, but that was a non-issue. Backup QB Will Howard threw for almost 300 yards and four touchdowns in the blowout effort.

Looking ahead, Kansas State has just one ranked team left on the schedule in Texas. However, three of the four opponents are above .500, so it won’t be easy.

Oklahoma State at No. 18 Following Blowout

The Cowboys’ dropped nine spots in the AP Poll entering this week following the shutout loss to Kansas State. That was resembled in the CFP rankings, as they came in at No. 18, the lowest ranking of the year for the Cowboys.

After starting the year 5-0, Oklahoma State looked like the team to beat in the Big 12. However, the Cowboys have dropped two of their last three, and now need a miracle down the stretch to have a shot at the CFP.

The talent is there for the Cowboys, led by quarterback Spencer Sanders, but the two losses are huge blemishes, although both to ranked opponents.

All four teams looming on the Oklahoma State schedule have a losing record within the conference, which gives the Cowboys big potential to win out. However, that might not be enough to bolster their resume and convince the committee to move them toward the top 10. A conference title in the Big 12 Championship is the only hope that Oklahoma State has left.

Texas Sneaks in at No. 24

The Longhorns round out the Big 12 teams in the first College Football Playoff rankings. Texas looked like one of the better teams in the country as they battled into the final moments against Alabama early in the year, but a tough loss to Texas Tech in Lubbock two weeks later altered those thoughts.

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The close loss to Oklahoma State later in the season does not impact the Longhorns’ resume nearly as much, but the schedule ahead is threatening. Texas has back-to-back games against ranked opponents in TCU and Kansas State, which are both must-wins if they hope to remain competitive in the conference. If Texas comes away with one win in those two games, they will need to win their final two against Kansas and Baylor as well as get some help in order to slip into the Big 12 Championship.

About Matt Quartararo

Matt is a third-year journalism major specializing in sports media and is also completing a sports management certificate. He also participates in sports broadcasting.

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