This week we are likely to see both Kansas and Baylor lose, again. Baylor, looks like a competitive team, but they keep racking up losses and are an eight-point underdog to Texas.
Kansas came into the season with such high hopes, but since then it has been one loss after another. The lowest of lows hopefully happened this week as the Jayhawk offense only managed 21 total yards. The rushing stats were so bad they looked more like PGA Tour round totals from when Tiger Woods was in his prime.
There is some good news in all of this, for the other fan bases at least. One team’s misfortune – or in this case, two teams’ – is another’s gain. There are 10 teams in the Big 12 and each school has to play all the others due to the round-robin format. When compared to other conference’s 8-game conference schedules this usually means that there are four extra loses to go around, as Pac-12 writers frequently reminded us just a few years ago. But, if those extra loses get absorbed by a winless team, what happens?
Doing some math in the round-robin: Each team plays 9 conference games, so if two teams go winless in conference play, it means that there are potentially 18 wins available to other schools. However, you have to subtract two games because Kansas and Baylor still have to play each other. So that gives us a total of 16 potential victories to be spread to the other eight teams in the conference. This could mean the Big 12 has a good chance to have more bowl-eligible teams at the end of the year.
So, can Kansas’ and Baylor’s misfortunes send everyone else bowling? How likely is it the Big 12 can put 80 percent of its conference into a bowl game? Let’s break it down.
TCU (7-0), Oklahoma (6-1), and Oklahoma State (6-1) are already bowl eligible, so that’s three already going bowling. Unfortunately, Baylor is already mathematically ruled out, and Kansas isn’t technically out yet, but for all intents and purposes, they are out. That leaves five teams in bowl eligibility limbo.
Iowa State (5-2) – Very Good
The Cyclones need just one more win, and they have a schedule left to get it. Iowa State’s next three games are tough, but they play Baylor on November 18 in Waco, and then close the season at Kansas State, who has not lived up to expectations so far. Those should be very manageable games. If the Cyclones get that last win, then they will have gone from 3-9 to bowling, quite the turnaround.
West Virginia (5-2) – Good
The Mountaineers only need one more win. That’s the good news. The bad news is that they have already played both Baylor and Kansas, so that sixth win will have to come against one of the better teams in the conference. Their remaining slate is pretty tough, too. Three of their final five games are against currently ranked teams. They also still have to play Texas, whose defense is playing like a Top 10 team. Their best chance at a win will be against Kansas State on November 11th. If they were to miss bowl eligibility, it would be a disaster for coach Holgorsen and crew. Chances are, they get the sixth win.
Texas Tech (4-3) – Good
Texas Tech needs two more wins. They have already played Kansas, but still have Baylor and Kansas State on the upcoming schedule. Two games in which they should be favored. However, drop on of those two games and they’ll have to pick up a win against OU, TCU or Texas. Texas Tech is a team that can grab a win against anyone on any given Saturday, but they should not make their job any harder than it has to be, or it might cost them.
Kansas State (3-4) – Poor
This is not the position we thought Kansas State would be in this year. Instead of contending for the conference, we are wondering if they will even make it to a bowl game. Thanks to a non-conference loss against Vanderbilt, they still need three wins and have already played Baylor. The good news is a win against Kansas this weekend would mean they need just two more wins. However, that is also the bad news. They would need to find two wins somewhere between at Texas Tech, home against West Virginia, at Oklahoma State, and home against Iowa State. That is a tall order, especially as a few of those teams will be fighting for bowl eligibility themselves. Had they beat Vanderbilt, they would need to just win one of those. Difficult, but doable. To win two? Based on what we have seen so far, unlikely.
Texas (3-4) – Good
Texas is in a slightly better position than K-State by still having both Baylor and Kansas on the schedule, but a couple of non-conference losses have hurt them. Baylor has been playing a lot better, but their depth issues are limiting them. This gives the Longhorns a bit a breathing room; not too much, but a bit. Also, expect Texas to be angry from embarrassment after last season when it faces the Jayhawks in Austin on November 11. If we give Texas the two wins over Baylor and Kansas, they will need at least one more win. They will have to get that win either at TCU, West Virginia in Morgantown, or against Texas Tech in Austin. It’s doable as they look like a team ready to break through, but it will not be easy. And if they fail to pick up that last win, it means another 5-7 record.
Can the Big 12 do it? Can it send eight teams bowling? If a few teams had done better in the non-conference, it would be a very real possibility. It is not 100 percent out of the question. After all, crazy things can happen that would upturn the apple cart. This is the Big 12, the only conference that can out crazy the #PAC12AfterDark. However, it would likely mean the Big 12 would have to cannibalize itself. Which would not be great for the conference’s playoff hopes.
More likely, the conference as a very real shot at putting seven teams into bowls this year, which would still be a boost for the Big 12, especially if they improve off of last years bowl record.