The Big 12 still does not have a desire or a need to play a conference championship game, but the conference is adjusting how it will determine a tiebreaker in the new College Football Playoff Era. The change is minor though and will likely go unnoticed by casual fans.
The College Football Playoff poll, which will be released by the members of the selection committee starting in late October, will be used to determine tiebreakers when needed just as the old BCS standings were used. The first tiebreaker in the Big 12 in the event two or more teams tie for first place will remain head-to-head results, which make sense in a 10-member conference using a round-robin schedule format. The second tiebreaker also remains the head-to-head results against the next highest team in the Big 12 standings, but if neither of those first two tiebreakers manages to settle the score, then whichever team is ranked highest by the College Football Playoff selection committee will get the nod to accept the Big 12’s championship belt in the postseason.
That seems simple enough, but just to make sure things are a bit more complicated than they need to be, the Big 12 does have an exception to the third tiebreaker. If the top two teams tied in the Big 12 are within one spot of each other in the College Football Playoff rankings, the head-to-head result of those teams will break the tie. This would come into play in the event of a three-way tie, or more, because the head-to-head result would break the tie right off the bat if just two teams were tied in the standings.
Here is an example of how the tiebreakers would work.
First Tiebreaker: Head-to-head
Oklahoma and Texas tie for the best record in the Big 12 during the regular season. Oklahoma defeated Texas in the regular season. Oklahoma would be recognized as the Big 12 champion in the postseason.
Second Tiebreaker: Best record against next highest opponent
Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State all tie for the best record in the Big 12. Oklahoma beat Texas, Texas beat Oklahoma State and Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma. Kansas State finished in fourth place in the Big 12, so the team with the best record against Kansas State would be the recognized Big 12 champion. Texas beat Kansas State, but Oklahoma and Oklahoma State did not. Texas is the Big 12 champion.
Third Tiebreaker: Highest College Football Playoff Ranking
Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas State all tie for the best record in the Big 12. Oklahoma beat Texas. Texas beat Kansas State. Kansas State beat Oklahoma. Oklahoma State is the fourth best team in the Big 12 and managed to beat Oklahoma, Texas and Kansas State (but they blew it against Kansas, Baylor and Texas Tech to really make you scratch your head as to why Oklahoma State isn’t running away with the conference). The next tiebreaker goes to the College Football Playoff rankings, which ranks Oklahoma No. 5, Texas No. 10 and Kansas State No. 18. Oklahoma is the recognized Big 12 champion.
Third Tiebreaker Exception: Head-to-head result trumps CFB Playoff Ranking
Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Baylor all tie for the best record in the Big 12. Oklahoma beat Baylor. Baylor beat Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State beat Oklahoma. All three lost to Texas (again, why isn’t Texas running away with this under this scenario?), and the CFB Playoff ranking is needed to settle the champion. The CFB Playoff ranks Oklahoma No. 7, Oklahoma State No. 8 and Baylor No. 9.
Oklahoma is the highest ranked team in the CFB Playoff ranking but because the Sooners are within one spot of Oklahoma State in the ranking, the head-to-head result will trump the ranking to determine the champion. By virtue of defeating the Sooners in the Bedlam game, Oklahoma State would be crowned as Big 12 champion.
Got all that? There will be a test in late November.
Photo: USA Today Sports