Well, that was fun.
No stress over TCU. Just a great weekend of college football where we could all sit back and watch the rest of the Big 12 — minus Texas Tech — battle it out, and perhaps even cannibalize itself to some extent (gulp). Tell ya what, we’ll cross that bridge come the first weekend of December.
Needless to say though, the league — from first-place standings to coaching staffs — endured several notable changes over the weekend as we jet forward to the second half of the 2018 season. Only time will tell what it all means going forward. Without further ado, here’s the rundown in the latest edition of beyond the fort.
Official: Texas is back, folks
Disclaimer: I too am perplexed at out this football team lost to the not-so-mighty Maryland Terrapins at FedEx Field in Week 1. Alas, Texas now has not one, not two, but THREE top 25 wins on the season, and the latest one, folks, was no fluke at all. The Longhorns are 5-1, and dare I say it, Tom Herman has a Big 12 Championship contender in just his second season on the Forty Acres. The path still isn’t easy going forward, but Oklahoma — arguably the Longhorns’ toughest test on the regular season — is successfully behind them, and Texas gets its lone remaining ranked opponent, West Virginia, on home turf. And can we talk for a second about Sam Ehlinger, who was named Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week after recording 5 touchdowns on Saturday? The kid has game.
I won’t say it’s a lock just yet, because anything can happen on any given Saturday. May I remind you that Texas does have to play in Lubbock down the stretch, and if that ends up being a night game — oof, we could be in for 2008. But for now, the Longhorns are passing the eye test, and there’s a very real chance they could find themselves in the Big 12 title game for the first time since 2009.
Mike Stoops: Not back
Surprising it took this long for Lincoln Riley to make the move, isn’t it. Alas, Mike Stoops is out as Oklahoma’s defensive coordinator — news that broke just one day after the Sooners surrendered 48 points in what was ultimately a three point loss to arch-rival Texas in the Red River
Losses like the one on Saturday hadn’t been uncommon in Stoops’ second stint with the team. Of the 17 games Oklahoma lost dating back to 2012 — his first season back in Norman — the Sooners surrendered 30 points or more in 15 of them. Perhaps none of them served as a bigger indictment than Oklahoma’s 54-48 overtime loss to Georgia this past January in the College Football Playoff Semifinals at the Rose Bowl. Just like the scene in Dallas two days ago, 45 points in regulation were not enough for the Sooners to walk away victorious.
So why fire Stoops mid-season. Riley told reporters on Monday that it was a “gut” decision that wast strictly his. Oh, and by the way, he wasn’t happy in the slightest that the news was leaked out Sunday night before an official announcement was made on Monday. Sooners fans, felt differently, of course.
And with the dust just about settled by, now here’s the wildest stat of all to emerge from all of this:
For the first time since Dec. 1, 1998 there is not a coach with the last name Stoops on the Oklahoma coaching staff. Let that sink in. Wild 48(ish) hours.— Eddie Radosevich (@Eddie_Rado) October 8, 2018
And what about the Big 12’s playoff chances?
Hate to tell you, friends. It’s not looking to bright for America’s most fun Power 5 conference after the events that unfolded on Saturday.
Sure, there’s 5-0 West Virginia, but Oklahoma was by far and large the league’s best shot at cracking college football’s edition of the Final Four prior to being upended by the Longhorns. Consequently, the Sooners’ playoff odds dropped to a mere 14 percent, according to ESPN.
The good news: 13 of the 16 previous teams to crack the CFP have had one loss. So in essence, Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia shouldn’t rule themselves out of the equation. The problem though? Independent Notre Dame, who is a perfect 6-0 thus far. Should they run the table, and Alabama, Ohio State and Clemson do the same, that’s likely your playoff right there. In that case, even an undefeated West Virginia would likely get passed over for the Irish.
Sorry folks, but the time may be upon us: Get ready for the most chalkboard playoff we’ve seen to date, because there isn’t that much to stop it from happening — aside from chaos — at this rate.