Big 12 has plenty to sort out


WVU hosts Oklahoma

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By STEPHEN HAWKINS

AP Sports Writer

While Oklahoma and West Virginia meet this weekend in a top-10 showdown with huge implications for the Big 12 title, there are plenty of teams farther down in the conference standings that can still end up eligible for a bowl game.

With three weeks left in the regular season — one more than the other Power Five conferences, which all have championship games — Oklahoma (8-2, 7-0 Big 12), No. 13 Oklahoma State (8-2, 6-1) and West Virginia (8-1, 5-1) are the only teams still with a chance to win the Big 12 title.

Games like Texas Tech-Iowa State and Kansas-Texas certainly aren’t worthy of the kind of prime-time slot the eighth-ranked Sooners and 10th-ranked Mountaineers will have Saturday night. But they will go a long way toward determining whether half of the 10-team league all finish 6-6 overall.

TITLE CONTENDERS

Oklahoma could wrap up its 10th Big 12 title with a win in Morgantown combined with an Oklahoma State loss at TCU. If undecided this weekend, the Sooners get another chance against the Cowboys on Dec. 3.

When Oklahoma State lost the Bedlam game last season, the Cowboys ended up as the Big 12 runner-up and Oklahoma made the College Football Playoff . With wins over TCU and Oklahoma, the Cowboys could win the Big 12 title on a tiebreaker. Their only championship was five years ago.

West Virginia was part of back-to-back Big East titles before joining the Big 12 in 2012. The Mountaineers, who have never finished among the top three in the Big 12, have to beat the Sooners to stay in contention. They then go to Iowa State and host Baylor.

PICK 6 IN THE MIDDLE

Sliding Baylor (6-3, 3-3) is the only other Big 12 team already with the six wins needed for bowl eligibility.

There is logjam in the middle of the standings, along with a longshot chance that five teams could all finish 6-6 overall. It would take a couple of upset victories by Kansas, but it’s possible.

Like Baylor, Kansas State, TCU and Texas all have three Big 12 wins. That trio each has only five wins overall, and some games against each other, ensuring at least one of them will get to six wins.

So how could five different teams all finish 6-6?

Baylor, which has lost three straight and will be without senior quarterback Seth Russell after his gruesome left ankle injury, would be 6-6 if it loses to Kansas State, Texas Tech and West Virginia.

So if K-State won at Baylor, then lost to Kansas and TCU, the Wildcats would be 6-6. In that scenario, TCU could also finish 6-6 if the Horned Frogs lost to Oklahoma State and Texas before playing K-State in the regular-season finale.

With coach Charlie Strong’s future still uncertain, Texas could be 6-6 with a loss to Kansas and a win over TCU the day after Thanksgiving.

Texas Tech (4-6, 2-5), with national total offense leader Patrick Mahomes and a defense that has allowed at least 44 points seven times, could get to six wins by beating Iowa State and then Baylor.

AT THE BOTTOM

Iowa State (2-8, 1-6) has four conference losses of 10 points or less under first-year coach Matt Campbell.

The Cyclones’ only Big 12 win was over Kansas (1-9, 0-7), which has lost 19 consecutive league games and is close to finishing last in the Big 12 for the fifth time in six years.

Unless, of course, the Jayhawks can pull off a couple of late-season wins to really jam up things up in the middle of the Big 12 standings.

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WVU hosts Oklahoma
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