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Big 12 Playoff Tracker: All Three Title Contenders Move Up in Rankings

After some big-time upsets in the top 10 on Saturday, the Big 12 just might have a chance — with a lot more chaos — to sneak its champion into the College Football Playoff. The third round of playoff voting featured a two-spot boost for all three Big 12 title contenders.

But there are still lots of teams standing in the conference’s way of reaching the final four.

Breaking down the Big 12’s playoff hopefuls and their chances:

Oklahoma

Record: 8-2 (7-0 Big 12)

Rank: 9

Next big obstacle: at West Virginia on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Reason for optimism: The Sooners remain perfect in Big 12 play, with gigantic games left against West Virginia and Oklahoma State that can significantly boost their profile. College Football Playoff committee chairman Kirby Hocutt praised Oklahoma’s “tremendous” offense and seven-game win streak on Tuesday to justify its No. 9 ranking. Wins over two more top-15 teams would give OU a real shot at sneaking into the final four.

Cause for concern: Oklahoma (and the rest of the Big 12) still needs a lot of help. The uncertainty of how the Big Ten race will end up playing out is troubling, and four Big Ten teams are ranked ahead of OU. It’s definitely not difficult to envision the Big Ten earning two playoff bids as a show of respect for it being the toughest Power 5 league this season. Louisville and Washington continue to stand in the Sooners’ way, as well.

Who they’ll be rooting for this week: Houston over Louisville; Michigan State over Ohio State; Michigan over Indiana; Arizona State over Washington; Rutgers over Penn State; and Oklahoma State over TCU.

Oklahoma State

Record: 8-2 (6-1)

Rank: 11

Next big obstacle: at TCU on Saturday (noon ET, FS1)

Reason for optimism: Oklahoma State keeps on moving up, climbing seven spots in two weeks, and it still has the best quality win of any Big 12 team, with its 37-20 victory over West Virginia. If Oklahoma State takes care of business in Fort Worth, Texas, this weekend and Oklahoma knocks off West Virginia, the Cowboys can secure the Big 12 title with a road win over a top-10 OU team on Dec. 3. A conference champion on an eight-game win streak ought to be appealing in the end.

Cause for concern: Even though the committee is made up of compassionate humans and not robots, the “loss” to Central Michigan is still considered a loss and will continue to haunt the Pokes’ résumé. The fact that Baylor is struggling doesn’t help, either.

Who they’ll be rooting for this week: Houston over Louisville; Michigan over Indiana; Arizona State over Washington; Rutgers over Penn State; Pitt over Duke; and Oklahoma over West Virginia.

West Virginia

Record: 8-1 (5-1)

Rank: 14

Next big obstacle: Oklahoma on Saturday (8 p.m. ET, ABC)

Reason for optimism: The Mountaineers get their grand opportunity to win over the doubters this weekend against Oklahoma in front of what should be a wild home crowd on Saturday night in Morgantown. Pull off that victory and they’ll be 9-1, with a real shot at becoming an 11-1 Big 12 champ deserving of serious consideration from the playoff committee.

Cause for concern: West Virginia’s résumé still isn’t getting any respect from the committee, since it features only one game against a current top-25 team, and that was a 17-point loss to Oklahoma State. The Mountaineers were already behind a bunch of two-loss teams in the rankings. Now they’re behind 7-3 USC too, which is just silly. And with Baylor losing three in a row, that likely means a win over the Bears on Dec. 3 wouldn’t do much to boost West Virginia’s rep.

Who they’ll be rooting for this week: Houston over Louisville; Michigan over Indiana; Arizona State over Washington; Rutgers over Penn State; Missouri over Tennessee; BYU over UMass; and TCU over Oklahoma State.

ESPN.com


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