There is one Power Five Conference Championship Game where the highest-ranked team featured in that game in the latest College Football Playoff rankings s not guaranteed a playoff spot. That would be the Big 12 Championship Game, where Texas football is poised to face off with the Oklahoma State Cowboys in Arlington, Texas.
The Longhorns enter this game ranked seventh in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. With everyone in the top-five in action in separate games with the exception of the Pac 12 Championship Game featuring the third-ranked Washington Huskies and the fifth-ranked Oregon Ducks, it would be safe to assume that if those teams handle business, Texas would be the odd man out of the College Football Playoff field regardless of whether or not they beat the Cowboys.
But that should not stop the Longhorns from going all out for the Big 12 crown, nor will it. The winner of this game still receives a birth to a New Year's bowl. Also, winning the Big 12 in the last year as a member of the conference would be a nice way to go out for Texas. Oklahoma State was not expected to make it this far, but is here anyway. Needless to say, a conference championship would be fantastic cap to its outstanding season
This will be a great game. Here are some bold Texas football predictions against Oklahoma State in the Big 12 Championship.
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CJ Baxter and Jaydon Blue run for at least 200 yards combined
Maybe the only running back in the country who has been hotter than Texas' Jonathan Brooks is going to be on the other sideline of this game. That would be Oklahoma State's Ollie Gordon. But Brooks has been fantastic all season long for the Longhorns. Brooks has missed Texas' last two outings, but before that, he had run for at least 98 yards in each of his last eight games. That includes a 218-yard masterclass performance against the Kansas Jayhawks back on September 30th.
Unfortunately, Brooks tore his ACL in Texas' game against Kansas State. Luckily for the Longhorns, however, they have two very capable running backs in CJ Baxter and Jaydon Blue. Baxter ran for 90 yards and a touchdown in that game against Kansas State and also rumbled for 117 yards on 20 carries against Iowa State. Jaydon Blue just ran for 121 yards and a touchdown on 10 carries against Texas Tech last week.
The Longhorns' young backs have the perfect matchup to really put themselves on the map this week against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys give up 172 rushing yards per game this season. To put that in context, the Colorado Buffaloes, a team that has been gashed on the ground all season, gives up 174.6 rushing yards per game. It would be nice to have Brooks out there, but Baxter and Blue can get the job done for the Longhorns with the Big 12 title on the line.
Texas wins by at least three touchdowns
Oklahoma State is one of the season's most pleasant surprises and deserves a ton of praise for getting as far as they have, but is still a bit overmatched against Texas. They did lose a game to South Alabama this season by a final score of 33-7. Texas, meanwhile beat Alabama earlier this season. Oklahoma State also got absolutely trounced by UCF a few weeks ago and required a comeback while trailing 24-6 to beat the BYU Cougars last week.
Oklahoma State has largely relied on Ollie Gordon this season and he has delivered, running run for at least 121 yards in eight of his last nine games with 19 touchdowns in that span. But Texas is great defending the run. They rank fifth in the country in rushing yards allowed per game at 85, with only the James Madison Dukes, UCLA Bruins, Penn State Nittany Lions and UCLA Bruins faring better in that department.
Texas should be able to slow Ollie Gordon down and control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. If they do, they'll be able to cruise to a win and secure their last Big 12 Championship before bolting to the SEC next season.