MANHATTAN (KSNT) – K-State football has not been mathematically eliminated from the race to the Big 12 championship game.
The Wildcats quest to repeat as champions is still alive, but the path to getting there is slightly murky the moment. The Big 12 conference’s policy for tiebreakers is leaving many fans confused.
In a two-team tie the deciding factor is actually simple: Head-to-head. Who won when those two teams played each other? That portion of the tiebreaking rules is not the one in question.
In a three-team tie, things aren’t so clear. The below image is taken from the Big 12’s website under the “Multiple-Team Ties” section of the tiebreaker procedures.
The end of the first point reads, “If not, every tied team has played each other, go to step 2.” This would apply to a potential three-way tie between K-State, Oklahoma and Oklahoma since K-State and OU did not play this season. That tie, at the moment, looks highly possible with two weeks left in the regular season.
If one proceeded to step two in the tiebreaker procedure, it would turn to “Record against next highest placed common opponent in the standings.” If Kansas State wins its final two games, this point could benefit the Wildcats. Why? They play Iowa State and Kansas in their final two weeks. If they win those, they’ll have victories over all common opponents between the Cowboys, Sooners and ‘Cats. Meanwhile, Oklahoma’s resume includes a loss to KU and OSU lost to Iowa State.
However, the policy might not be implemented as it appears when reading the conference’s website.
According to both Berry Tramel with SelloutCrowd.com and Brett McMurphy of Action Network, the Big 12 is considering giving Oklahoma State the tiebreaker in this possible future scenario. The reason would be because the Cowboys have a head-to-head win against both teams they’d be tied with.
Wildcat fans are taking issue with this, since the procedures state “If not, every tied team has played each other, go to step 2” under the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Big 12 athletic directors have a regularly scheduled meeting on tap for Wednesday, McMurphy reports. This meeting, he says, is “expected to restate intent of tiebreaker.”
27 News reached out to a Big 12 spokesperson for comment but did not receive a response.
Of course, the interpretation of the procedure could end up being a moot point. If there is not a tie with more than two teams for a spot in the Big 12 championship game, this clarification wouldn’t be necessary.
If K-State were to tie with only OU for the second spot in the championship game, the Sooners would have an advantage due to their win against Texas. The Cowboys, in a solo tie with Kansas State, would be boosted by their head-to-head win.
The Wildcats could also get in regardless of procedure interpretation if OU and OSU both lose one of their final two games and K-State wins out.
Additionally, the race for the title game in Arlington could get even more complicated if Texas loses one of its final two games.
As it stands before Saturday, Nov 18 games, Texas is in sole possession of first place in the conference at 6-1 in league play. K-State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Iowa State are all tied for second at 5-2. The Longhorns and Cyclones meet in week 11.
K-State plays Kansas in week 11 and ISU in week 12.
The Jayhawks are not mathematically eliminated from title contention either. Kansas is 4-2 in conference play, and thus would need losses from all the teams tied for second to even get into a tiebreaker situation.
UPDATE: The Big 12 conference released a statement on the issue, given to 27 News on Wednesday.