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Oklahoma locks up one spot in Big 12 title game, TCU has inside track for the other

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After the Big 12 entered Week 12 somewhat convoluted, they exited with much more clarity.  Maybe.

First and foremost, Oklahoma, 7-1 in Big 12 play, assured itself of one of the two spots in the Big 12 championship game by virtue of a 41-3 pasting of hapless Kansas.  TCU, now 6-2, earned the inside track to the second spot thanks to a 27-3 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock Saturday afternoon.

That sets up a relatively simple scenario for Week 13: if TCU handles one-win Baylor at home, they will face Oklahoma in the inaugural renewal of the Big 12 championship game.  If not?  Matt Campbell‘s upstart squad has a chance, albeit a very slim one.

As it stands now*, there are currently four Big 12 teams with three conference losses — Iowa State (finishes against Kansas State), Oklahoma State (Kansas), Texas (Texas Tech) and West Virginia (Oklahoma).  OSU, Texas and WVU all lost to TCU, so they would be eliminated from contention even if TCU happened to stumble against BU.

While Iowa State beat TCU, they also lost to Texas, WVU and OSU.  Thus, in case of a three-way tie — or more — TCU would get the spot in the conference championship game based on wins over everyone but ISU amongst the group of teams in line for a potential tie for second place.  ISU, then, needs losses by all four of those teams plus a win over bowl-eligible K-State.

(*I believe these scenarios to be accurate, although I’ve reached out to the Big 12 for confirmation.)

Nick Saban, Lane Kiffin among 16 Maxwell Coach of the Year semifinalists

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One recent branch of Nicktator’s coaching tree will be vying with his former boss for one set of coaching honors.

The Maxwell Foundation on Thursday announced its 16 semifinalists for the 2017 George Munger College Coach of the Year Award.  Alabama’s Nick Saban is one of the select 16, as is Florida Atlantic’s Lane Kiffin, who spent the previous three seasons as Saban’s offensive coordinator.

The SEC leads all conferences with four semifinalists, followed by two each for the ACC, Big 12 and Big Ten.  The Pac-12 is the lone Power Five conference with just one.

Kiffin is one five Group of Five semifinalists, joining UAB’s Bill Clark, UCF’s Scott Frost, Army’s Jeff Monken and Fresno State’s Jeff Tedford.  The MAC and Sun Belt are the lone conferences without at last one semifinalist.

No. 15 Oklahoma State survives on the road against upstart No. 21 Iowa state

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It was another week with a bit of an offensive back-and-forth for No. 15 Oklahoma State (8-2, 5-2 Big 12), and this time they came out on top of a wild one. The Cowboys managed to pull through in the fourth quarter to secure a 49-42 win at No. 21 Iowa State (6-4, 4-3 Big 12) to keep their Big 12 championship hopes alive.

The wild fourth quarter began with none other than Allen Lazard coming up with an incredible touchdown catch. As the ball soared to the endzone, Lazard tipped the ball with his left hand with a defender on him, and he caught the ball with his right hand as he fell to the ground for the go-ahead score.

The Lazard touchdown gave Iowa State a 35-31 lead, and Oklahoma State had to settle for a field goal on the ensuing possession to create a one-point game. A little more than a minute later, Iowa State expanded their lead to eight points on a 14-yard run by David Montgomery after a couple of big passes by Zeb Noland to Trever Ryen and an unnecessary roughness penalty on the Cowboys moved the ball quickly down the field. Oklahoma State responded once more by orchestrating a 75-yard drive for a touchdown. Mason Rudolph connected in the endzone with Marcell Ateman form 30 yards out on a 3rd and 22. After a couple of holding penalties in the endzone on two-point conversion attempts by the Pokes, Justice Hill powered his way in for a short pick-up to tie the game at 42-42 with just under six minutes to play.

Oklahoma State took the lead on a 19-yard pass from Rudolph to Dillon Stoner with 3:47 to play. Iowa State moved the ball into the red zone in the final minutes, but Oklahoma State picked off a pass in the endzone and had the instant replay booth uphold the call when it appeared there might have been simultaneous possession between Oklahoma State’s A.J. Green and Iowa State receiver Marchie Murdock.

Oklahoma State has already lost games to both Oklahoma and TCU, the frontrunners in the Big 12 championship game hunt. Even though the Sooners and Horned Frogs play today to guarantee one of them loses, Oklahoma State still must keep the pressure on and hope for some help around the conference these next few weeks.

Iowa State might have seen a chance to play for the Big 12 championship fall through the cracks in their home finale. Iowa State will wrap up the season on the road with back-to-back games at Baylor and Kansas State. One win is needed to clinch Iowa State’s first winning season since 2009.

Iowa State’s late TD push sends game with Oklahoma State to halftime tied 21-21

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Iowa State got off to a great start in yet another key Big 12 game, but Justice Hill and the Oklahoma State offense roared back with 21 straight points. But a late touchdown push by Iowa State sends this pivotal Big 12 game to halftime knotted at 21-21.

Allen Lazard did not waste much time having an impact on the game. Five minutes into the game, Lazard got his hands on a 14-yard touchdown pass to put the Cyclones on the board. After Iowa State’s defense forced a three-and-out on Oklahoma State’s first offensive series of the game, the Cyclone offense went back to work with another methodical drive, traveling 64 yards on eight plays for another touchdown to go up 14-0. David Montgomery capped the drive with a 22-yard touchdown run.

Perhaps going down 14-0 was the wakeup call Oklahoma State needed. On the ensuing possession, the Cowboys got on the board with a 21-yard pass from Mason Rudolph to Marcell Ateman. After forcing a three-and-out, and taking over at the Iowa State 32-yard line, Hill scored a 9-yard touchdown to tie the game at 14-14 early in the second quarter. Another three-and-out by the Cyclones led to another touchdown drive by Oklahoma State, with Hill once again capping the drive with a run to the end zone.

Iowa State tied things up in the final minute of the first half when Joel Lanning, the 6′-2″ 230 lb. quarterback, stepped in at quarterback for q short-yardage push at the goal line. It worked as Lanning and the Cyclones muscled forward for the touchdown on the ground.

A win by Iowa State will keep the Cyclones in the running to make the Big 12 championship game, thank in large part to head-to-head tiebreaker with both Oklahoma and TCU. If they can get one more this afternoon against Oklahoma State, that would be huge. Oklahoma State also needs this win to stay in the Big 12 title hunt as well. Stay tuned for a wild second half.

Second straight week of seven ranked-on-ranked matchups signals HUGE Showdown Saturday slate

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As yet another regular season begins to quickly and swiftly wind down, there’s yet another huge weekend on tap dripping with playoff and conference implications.

Last week, for the first time since the 2006 season and just the sixth time in history, there were seven games played in which both teams were ranked in the Associated Press poll. As we enter Week 11, it’s back-to-back for that particular phenomenon as, yet again, there are seven ranked-on-ranked matchups.

All 14 of the teams involved, incidentally, currently reside in the College Football Playoff Top 25, which is obviously the poll measure with the most import and the rankings for which are used in setting up the scrumptious Week 11 menu below.

  • No. 1 Georgia at No. 10 Auburn
  • No. 2 Alabama at No. 16 Mississippi State
  • No. 3 Notre Dame at No. 7 Miami
  • No. 6 TCU at No. 5 Oklahoma
  • No. 20 Iowa at No. 8 Wisconsin
  • No. 12 Michigan State at No. 13 Ohio State
  • No. 15 Oklahoma State at No. 21 Iowa State

Georgia has already clinched the otherwise woeful SEC East, but needs a win to keep pace in the national chase. Both undefeated Alabama (with an Auburn loss) and unbeaten Wisconsin can join UGA in a division-clinching Saturday with wins, the former the SEC West and the latter the Big Ten West; the winner of the Michigan State-Ohio State matchup all but clinches the Big Ten East as well. Oklahoma and TCU enter gameday tied atop the Big 12 at 5-1 in conference play, with the winner of that matchup grabbing very firm control of one of the two spots in the league championship game renewal with two games remaining and the loser falling out of playoff contention.

The lone non-conference matchup in the group, Notre Dame traveling to Miami, could very well find the loser, much like the Pac-12 and especially if it’s the Irish, on the outside of the playoff window looking in when the regular season is all said and done.

Outside of the ranked-on-ranked matchups, CFP No. 4 and defending national champion Clemson can clinch the ACC Atlantic by dropping stumbling rival Florida State at home, while No. 11 USC can do the same in the Pac-12 South if it takes care of business against Colorado on the road. In the Group of Five portion of the program, unbeaten and 18th-ranked Central Florida will look to strengthen its hold on a potential New Year’s Six berth by taking care of UConn, with No. 22 Memphis, the only other CFP ranked G5, facing a stiff test against SMU as it tries to stay within shouting distance of UCF.

So, other than all of that, there’s really not much at stake this weekend. At all.