The Jayhawks pulled off a stunning upset, handing the No. 6 Oklahoma Sooners a 38-33 defeat in Week 9. This came just one week after the Sooners narrowly escaped with a 31-29 victory against UCF. A decisive nine-yard touchdown by Devin Neal with only 55 seconds remaining sealed the victory for Kansas, as a last-ditch effort led by Oklahoma quarterback Dillon Gabriel fell short. This marked Kansas’ first triumph over Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1 Big 12) since 1997.
The implications of this upset are substantial, not just for the Big 12, but also for the College Football Playoff race. The committee will face the intriguing task of assessing how far the Sooners will fall in the rankings. Notably, the Big 12 is now the only Power 5 conference without any remaining unbeaten teams. Additionally, Oklahoma has allowed a significant average of 33.5 points over the last two weeks, indicating a vulnerability in their defense.
In this game, the Sooners struggled to contain Kansas’ rushing attack, conceding a total of 225 yards on the ground. The contest, which saw three turnovers, was further complicated by a weather delay due to lightning. While Gabriel put up commendable numbers with 167 passing yards, 64 rushing yards, and four total touchdowns, it proved insufficient this time.
This upset essentially guarantees that the initial College Football Playoff rankings will not feature a Big 12 team in the top four. Now, the Sooners face the formidable task of winning out for a shot at the playoff. This won’t be an easy feat, especially with a critical Bedlam showdown against Oklahoma State looming in Week 10. Their remaining regular-season schedule includes matchups against West Virginia, BYU, and TCU.
The question arises: will Texas now be ranked ahead of Oklahoma? While logic might suggest otherwise, given Oklahoma’s victory over Texas in the Red River Rivalry, the Longhorns’ impressive 35-6 win against BYU without starting quarterback Quinn Ewers might give them an edge. Moreover, Texas’ non-conference victory against Alabama could carry weight with the CFP committee. Ultimately, the Big 12’s best shot at a playoff berth might hinge on a rematch between Texas and Oklahoma, provided both teams navigate their remaining schedules without a loss.
As for the Big 12 championship game, Oklahoma and Texas, both with 7-1 records and 4-1 conference records, are the only teams with just one loss. However, the conference is currently in a state of flux, with five teams holding one conference loss, including Oklahoma, Texas, Kansas State (6-2, 4-1), Iowa State (5-3, 4-1), and Oklahoma State (5-2, 3-1). This competitive landscape presents a challenge for any team hoping to secure a spot in the College Football Playoff, as no two-loss team has made it in the four-team format. The race for the Big 12 championship game promises to be a thrilling and unpredictable affair.