Brads’ Breakdown: The Big-12’s big game and bigger problem

By Alan Brads

Every industry needs a star. Pop music has Taylor Swift, action movies have Tom Cruise, football has … also Taylor Swift. 

Between Sanders and Taylor Swift, football viewership is up, and a whole new audience is being exposed to the charismatic cult of football. 

So to any Swfities who jumped from the NFL to college football, let me be the first to welcome you to Fansville, home of all college football fans. Let me also be the the first to warn you: it gets crazy around here, just be careful.

We are well past the point of bad college football slates, if there is such a thing. If you are like me, Saturdays in October and November are for football. I kindly attended one fall wedding this year, I doubt it will happen again. 

This week’s three top stories consist mostly of big updates on old news. It is time to set the stage for the wild pursuit of the college football playoff.

Three storylines and three games to watch in week six. 

#3- Big Ten East showdowns loom large

Michigan already freed themselves from the chokehold Ohio State held on the Big Ten East, and Penn State played on par with the Buckeyes and Wolverines. Circle October 21st, November 11th and November 25th on your calendar. The dates of the three-way round robin will send seismic waves through the Big Ten and college football. Whoever can win both games go ahead and punch their ticket to the college football playoff, they are going. If the three teams each split 1-1, the division scenarios get complicated very quickly when we start playing the tiebreaker game. To keep it short, in an ironic twist of fate, the Big Ten West would hold control in their hands, but the Buckeyes would most likely emerge victorious via the fifth tiebreaker. 

#2- Bleak future for Big-12

We know the Big-12 replaced Texas and Oklahoma with Cincinnati, BYU, UCF and Houston out of necessity. We knew it was a significant downgrade, but it looks even worse than we thought. The newcomers stand at a combined 11-9 while the outgoers, the Big-12’s only ranked teams, combine to a perfect 10-0. None of the 12 2024 members beat a ranked non-conference team. In 15 tries their only Power Five wins came against Arizona State, Illinois, Arkansas and Pitt twice. Gross. That’s basically a whole bunch of ways to say the Big-12 might stink real bad real soon, you can pick your favorite. But hey, look on the bright side, at least they actually have 12 teams again.

#1- Confusion at the top

Good teams are a dime a dozen in college football, just like they usually are. Great teams may or may not exist this year. Georgia holds the top AP spot, but they lost first place votes four out of five weeks, plummeting from 55 to 35 this week. They and everyone else have weaknesses. There is no big bad villain at the top this year. It is a mad scramble for four playoff spots because anyone who gets in could very realistically win it all. Estimates vary on how many teams could really go all the way, my number is 10, but whatever it is I guarantee it will supercede the 2-4 we have seen for the majority of the college football playoff era.

#3- #10 Notre Dame @ #25 Louisville- 7:30 P.M. on ABC

I almost picked the FightingIrish for a top three game last week, bit I snubbed them, or more accurately snubbed Duke, thinking the Irish would run away with it quickly. I will not make the same mistake twice. Louisville has not won in impressive fashion, but at this point in the season being undefeated is inherently meaningful. They came back from down 10 against North Carolina State last week, and have more momentum than Notre Dame who narrowly escaped Duke. Notre Dame’s backs are against the wall. Every game is do or die for the rest of the season, but Louisville still gets a chance to catch the Irish looking ahead to next week’s showdown with USC and spoil their fun early. The casual viewer might skip out on this one entirely, but something about this game, Notre Dame’s rocky season, Louisville’s perfection on the line in their home stadium, and a 6-point spread tells me this one is worth keeping an eye on.

#2- #20 Kentucky @ #1 Georgia 7:00 PM on ESPN

We all know what we saw last week. Georgia’s good, but they’re not great, at least not yet. Fortunately for them, neither are most of their opponents. Kentucky gets their crack at the back-to-back champions this week with a chance to finally win the battle against the fringe-relevance they have fought for a few years now. A win at Sanford stadium makes the Wildcats real, and more importantly, puts them in the driver’s seat in the SEC East. With a win over Georgia the margin for error expands from zero to a Missouri-sized gap (an also sneakily 5-0 team). On the flip side, if Georgia can fend off Kentucky to stay perfect, you can go ahead and pencil them in to enter November 8-0 with jus those Missouri Tigers standing between them and their sixth SEC East championship in seven years.

#1- #12 Oklahoma @ #3 Texas – 12:00 P.M. on ABC

The best two teams in the Big 12, and maybe if you spin it right, the best two teams in the SEC. There is no debate, the Red River Rivalry/Shootout/Showdown/whatever they call it these days is the game to watch this weekend. The Cotton Bowl classic could not be more different than last year when the rivals played unranked for the first time since 1998. Now we get a top-15 battle for Big-12 supremacy. Texas has not won back-to-back since 2009, but they are the favorites at the Cotton Bowl on Saturday. This is one of those games that just guarantees entertainment, no such thing as a boring result here. An Oklahoma win reshapes the landscape of 2023 college football, and a Texas win could vault them to number one in the country. There is never a boring Texas-Oklahoma game, but with both teams undefeated and making the jump to the SEC next year, this one just feels special.

Alan Brads is a senior journalism student and sports editor for Cedars. He enjoys playing the drums, speaking Spanish and watching Buckeye football like his life depends on it.

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