OSU’s back in the thick of the race, so here’s a reminder of what the Big 12 tiebreaker rules are

OSU’s back in the thick of the race, so here’s a reminder of what the Big 12 tiebreaker rules are

Ben Hutchens: In the past three weeks, OSU has upset Kansas State, Kansas and West Virginia to improve its Big 12 record to 3-1, and move back into the top half of the conference standings.

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

| Oct 23, 2023, 4:18pm CDT

Ben Hutchens

By Ben Hutchens

Oct 23, 2023, 4:18pm CDT

STILLWATER — After three straight wins, end-of-season scenarios have suddenly become more interesting to the Oklahoma State Cowboys.

OSU has upset Kansas State, Kansas and West Virginia to improve its overall record to 5-2 and Big 12 record to 3-1, which puts OSU in the top half of the conference standings.

Jumping into the Big 12’s top two positions and earning an invite to the Big 12 Championship Game in Arlington is still a possibility. 

That makes examining the Big 12’s tiebreaker scenarios worthwhile.

Conference standings as of Oct. 21:

Oklahoma, 4-0

Texas, 3-1

Oklahoma State, 3-1

Kansas State, 3-1

Iowa State, 3-1

Kansas, 2-2

BYU, 2-2

West Virginia, 2-2

Baylor, 2-2

TCU, 2-3

Texas Tech, 2-3

Houston, 1-3

UCF, 0-4

Cincinnati, 0-4

Tie between two teams:

The Big 12 tiebreaker procedures are simple when two teams have an identical record. The winner of the head-to-head matchup wins the tie. But in this new era of Big 12 football, each team plays only nine of a possible 13 opponents. 

“You know, that’s going to be a little bit of an issue, I mean, we didn’t have (teams not playing each other last year),” OSU coach Mike Gundy said.

If head-to-head doesn’t apply, here is the order of the next tiebreakers, from the Big 12 rulebook:

  • Win percentage against the next highest placed common opponent in the standings (based on record in all games played within the conference), proceeding through the standings.

Note: When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s win percentage against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tie-breaking procedure) rather than the performance against individual tied teams.

  • Win percentage against all common conference opponents. 
  • Combined win percentage in conference games of conference opponents (ie, strength of conference schedule). 
  • Total number of wins in a 12-game season. The following conditions will apply to the calculation of the total number of wins:
    • Only one win against a team from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision or lower division will be counted annually.
    • Any games that are exempted from counting against the annual maximum number of football contests per NCAA rules. (current Bylaw 17.10.5.2.1) shall not be included. 
  • Highest ranking by SportSource Analytics (team Rating Score metric) following the last weekend of regular-season games.
  • Coin toss 

Ties involving three or more teams:

  • Head-to-head (best cumulative win percentage in games among the tied teams). If not, every tied team has played each other, go to step two. 
  • Record against the next highest placed common opponent in the standings (based on record in all games played within the conference), proceeding through the standings.

Note: When arriving at another group of tied teams while comparing records, use each team’s win percentage against the collective tied teams as a group (prior to that group’s own tie-breaking procedure) rather than the performance against individual tied teams.

  • Win percentage against all common conference opponents (must be common among all teams involved in the tie).
  • Combined win percentage in conference games of conference opponents (ie, strength of conference schedule).
  • Total number of wins in a 12-game season. The following conditions will apply to the calculation of the total number of wins:
    • Only one win against a team from the NCAA Football Championship Subdivision or lower division will be counted annually. 
    • Any games that are exempted from counting against the annual maximum number of football contests per NCAA rules. (current Bylaw 17.10.5.2.1) shall not be included.
  • Highest ranking by SportSource Analytics (team Rating Score metric) following the last weekend of regular-season games.
  • Coin toss 

Even Gundy, a college football deep-thinker, said he didn’t have any idea what the best way to break a tie in the new 14-team Big 12 would be. 

And the reason why is because like, if you look at where things are right now, in conference play the teams that have played teams, how do you match up?” Gundy said. “Like, OK, well, we beat this team by 10 and the other team only beat them by one. And then we beat this team by one and they beat them by 14. So how do you match it up? I don’t have any idea.”

Gundy said he isn’t focused on how OSU could potentially fit into a tiebreaker scenario late in the season. He is just looking ahead to Cincinnati, Saturday night’s opponent.

Plus, sometimes, it’s just easier not to think about all that.

“Yeah, that’s way over my head,” Gundy said. “I mean, high school math is about as much as I can get.”

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Ben Hutchens and his twin brother Sam cover Oklahoma State for the Sellout Crowd. After a decade of living in the state, Ben finally feels justified in calling himself an Oklahoman. You can reach him at [email protected] and continue the dialogue @Ben_ Hutchens_ on social media.

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