AUSTIN (KXAN) — A win Friday over Texas Tech sends the Texas Longhorns to the Big 12 Conference championship game with the No. 1 seed, fulfilling the team’s goal it set out to achieve at the beginning of the season. However, a loss to the Red Raiders and things get wacky.
Before the final week of Big 12 play, the Longhorns are alone in first place at 7-1 with three teams a game behind at 6-2. Oklahoma, Kansas State and Oklahoma State are all within striking distance to potentially claim a spot in the title game through the conference’s tiebreaker rules. Since the league schedule is unbalanced and not every team plays each other, it creates potential chaos when trying to break ties.
Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian said the team has to take care of itself and not leave fate in the hands of the league. They went through it last year after missing out on a title game berth via tiebreakers.
“We learned our lesson a year ago,” Sarkisian said. “Our fate was in somebody else’s hands and it didn’t work out so well for us. This year is leave no doubt. This is on us and we have to go handle our business.”
The Big 12 Conference laid out some title game scenarios Sunday night after sports writers and fans across the country couldn’t understand the head-scratching tiebreaker protocols. Oklahoma and TCU also play on Friday while the rest of the conference games are Saturday.
So, if Texas wins on Friday, here’s the deal:
- Texas clinches a title game berth and No. 1 seed, making them the designated home team at Cowboys Stadium on Dec. 2
- If Oklahoma State beats BYU on Saturday, the Cowboys clinch the second spot in the title game
- If Oklahoma wins and Oklahoma State loses, the Sooners will advance and another Red River Rivalry game will happen across the metroplex from the Cotton Bowl.
- If Kansas State defeats Iowa State on Saturday at home and both the Sooners and Cowboys lose, the Wildcats will go to the title game
That’s easy enough to follow. If Texas Tech comes into Austin and upsets the Longhorns, however, there are multiple tiebreaker scenarios and the Big 12 takes a page out of Austin’s book and gets weird.
Here’s what the conference said if Texas Tech beats the Longhorns:
- No team can clinch a conference championship game berth until play ends Saturday
- Texas can still get in if two of the three two-loss teams (Oklahoma, K-State, Oklahoma State) also lose. The Longhorns and the winner of the three will make the title game
- If two or all three of the two-loss teams win their games, there’s a multiple-team tie for both title game berths and the tiebreaker rules go into effect
The tie permutations range from two-way ties with each team below them, three-way ties and a four-way tie for the two championship game berths. The conference said it will provide an update on all scenarios after the Texas-Texas Tech and Oklahoma-TCU games Friday night.
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As far as Sarkisian is concerned, the Longhorns have been playing conference championship games every week for the past two months. He said the players know what’s at stake and they’re fired up just like any other game.
“We know the value of the Big 12 games and the importance,” he said. “Our players understand that we went into this season with a mission to be champions and that we have to handle our business along the way. It’s not something we shy away from, but it’s not something I need to make even bigger.”