WACO, Texas (AP) — The Big 12’s playoff prospects have shifted from the banks of the Brazos to completely north of the Red River into Oklahoma, where the Sooners are surging and Oklahoma State is still undefeated.
With Bedlam still to come, the No. 4 Cowboys (10-0, 7-0 Big 12) and No. 7 Sooners (9-1, 6-1) provide the best hopes for the league that was snubbed by the initial four-team playoff last season.
Oklahoma’s fifth consecutive victory was 44-34 over previously undefeated Baylor, which until Saturday night had an FBS-best 20-game home winning streak that included the first 10 games in its riverside campus stadium.
“You come into an undefeated team ranked that high, waiting on you, and win by 10, it’s got to be a positive,” Sooners coach Bob Stoops said when asked if the win in Waco sends a message.
The Big 12’s top four teams are all in Oklahoma next Saturday night. No. 10 Baylor (8-1, 5-1) plays at Oklahoma State, and the Sooners host No. 11 TCU (9-1, 6-1).
A week after that, it’s Bedlam in Stillwater, a game that could determine the Big 12 title — and possibly a playoff spot.
When Oklahoma State trailed for the first 57 minutes at Iowa State on Saturday, there certainly had to be some flashbacks to 2011 — when in the Cowboys’ last game that season before Bedlam they were the nation’s second-ranked team and lost in double overtime at Ames.
This time, the Cowboys scored late for a 35-31 victory to remain the only undefeated team in the Big 12.
“You don’t win without having some maturity and a relentless football team,” quarterback J.W. Walsh said. “We’ve been able to attain those things very well.”
Both Oklahoma State and Oklahoma moved up in the new AP poll Sunday, and likely will improve in the new College Football Playoff rankings Tuesday. The Cowboys were seventh in the playoff rankings last week, and the Sooners 12th.
Either can clinch the Big 12 title by winning their last two regular season games.
There will be no Big 12 co-champions this year. A new tiebreaker procedure was put in place after Baylor and TCU were declared co-champs last season — and both one-loss teams got left out of the playoff.
That could now hurt the Bears and Horned Frogs, who won 23-17 Saturday over winless seven-TD underdog Kansas. TCU quarterback Trevone Boykin left early after turning his right ankle, and receiver Josh Doctson was limited by a wrist injury sustained the previous week in a loss at Oklahoma State.
“It’s been an interesting year,” Frogs coach Gary Patterson said. “I don’t know how these next two weeks will go because we are pretty banged up, but we’ll be back to a pretty good football team by (bowl) time.”
With three more wins, and some help, Baylor could still join Oklahoma as the only teams to win three consecutive Big 12 titles. But the Bears’ playoff hopes are likely done no matter what happens.
Even when undefeated, the Bears were sixth in the last CFP rankings. They will certainly fall after losing what most considered their first real test.
After Baylor and TCU cross the Red River next weekend, they will play the night after Thanksgiving.
The Bears are the only of the Big 12 title contenders who play the first Saturday in December. But the trophy could already be claimed before their home finale against Texas.
“Try to finish out and do right and see where it all ends up,” Baylor coach Art Briles said. “There’s a few of us banging around there with one loss, so we’ll just see where it ends up.”