The Big 12 Belongs to Oklahoma, But the Race For the Last CFP Spot is Still Wide Open

Liam McKeone
Jalen Hurts in the pocket
Jalen Hurts in the pocket / Ron Jenkins/Getty Images
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It was an ugly game, but Oklahoma managed to pull out an OT win over Baylor in the Big 12 Championship Game at AT&T Stadium on Saturday. The defense was solid for the first three quarters and the offense did just enough when it mattered most to overcome a Bears squad that was down to its third-string QB by the end. But even with the win, Oklahoma shouldn't be considered a shoe-in for the last spot of the College Football Playoff-- not by any means.

As a one-loss team with a conference title, the Sooners should be first in line for that final spot. But they looked very underwhelming all day against Baylor. Jalen Hurts threw a bad pick and couldn't really get much going, even if his final statline (17-24, 287 yards, one TD) was decent. The defense had their flashes and put the final nail in the coffin on Baylor's first overtime possession, but they also gave up two huge plays to Jacob Zeno, who had thrown exactly three passes in his college career before getting thrown into the fire.

If you weren't convinced before, this game should prove that this year's Baylor team was very good and very well-coached. Even with Charlie Brewer going down in the first half, it was never going to be easy for the Sooners. But giving up ten unanswered points to allow the game to go to overtime should, and will, play against Oklahoma when it comes to the CFP. In tandem with the fact that they were pretty average for the back half of the season, everyone should pause before assuming that Lincoln Riley's squad will be going up against Clemson, LSU, or Ohio State.

Ultimately, Oklahoma's fate is out of their hands now. They've made their case, and it has its merits. But if Georgia or Wisconsin show up to play against their respective opponents (win or lose), there's an equally strong case they're just as good, if not better squads than Oklahoma. Barring something truly ridiculous, the top three spots for the Playoff are set in stone. But that fourth spot should be far more contentious than simply awarding it to the one-loss team with a fun offense and a conference title.

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