In back-to-back weeks against Texas Tech and TCU, West Virginia and its un-Big 12-like defense announced themselves as a conference championships contender.
That still holds true, but it's not just the Mountaineers showing they can play for the Big 12 title. Oklahoma State added its name to the sweepstakes with a 37-20 statement over Dana Holgorsen's team. That's a list that already includes Baylor and Oklahoma while refusing to completely discount Kansas State and TCU.
Oklahoma State did an excellent job defensively, but the difference in the game was West Virginia's self-inflicted wounds. The Mountaineers had three turnovers, all of which put the Pokes inside the WVU red zone, and directly led to 17 points.
A game is never won or lost on a single play, but it's hard to argue three were as big as those turnovers for the 'Eers, whose defense actually played well enough to win, giving up a mere 5.34 yards per play. But West Virginia can't afford to give Oklahoma State that many chances, and the Cowboys were good enough to capitalize.
It's tough to go undefeated even if you're an elite team and the round-robin conference schedule doesn't help. West Virginia is still a good team, though. So is Oklahoma State. It just wasn't the Mountaineers' day, and while today that affects them, next week it could be Oklahoma State or Baylor.
With five weeks left in the regular season after Saturday, and with Baylor losing to Texas 35-34, the Big 12 championship race is, and projects to be, as wide open as anything else in major college football. Here's a sample of what's in store as November gets underway...
Nov. 5: TCU at Baylor; Oklahoma State at Kansas State
Nov. 12: Baylor at Oklahoma
Nov. 19: Oklahoma at West Virginia; Oklahoma State at TCU
Dec. 3: Baylor at West Virginia; Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
You want back-loaded? It's not quite the Big 12 November to remember of 2015, but it's not terribly far behind, either. The opportunity for the top of the conference to cannibalize in the final month is strong. While that's bad news for the conference's playoff hopes, it's good news for a number of fan bases who want to see their team win.
That might do it for West Virginia. Really solid outing for Oklahoma State. Good day for the "Big 12 champ will be 7-2" crowd.— David Ubben (@davidubben) October 29, 2016
The sample size isn't huge, but no team has gone through Big 12 play undefeated since it implemented the round-robin schedule. So far, 2016 is on track for more of the same.