Josh Furlongs AP Top 25: Big 12 wants out of playoff as others make a case for inclusion –

SALT LAKE CITY — After Oklahoma and Texas dropped a pair of games early in the season, the Big 12’s playoff outlook looked grim. But Oklahoma State grabbed the spotlight and led the charge as the team to represent the conference as its only undefeated team left in contention.

That was until Saturday afternoon.

The Cowboys ran into a problem against an improved Texas team, who scored a go-ahead touchdown with just over four minutes left to play in regulation. Oklahoma State managed to tie it up with a 34-yard field goal as time expired to force the game into overtime. But Texas quarterback Sam Ehlinger found Joshua Moore in the back of the end zone after a scramble for a 15-yard score to take the 7-point lead.

Oklahoma State couldn’t get much going in the bonus period and failed to convert on a fourth-and-8 on Texas’ 12-yard line after quarterback Spencer Sanders was sacked by Joseph Ossai for a 13-yard loss. It ended up being the game clincher, and what will likely keep the Big 12 out of the playoff unless more chaos unfolds in the coming weeks. Oh, and the five turnovers didn’t help either, but who’s counting?

Still, the Big 12 has some blemishes in an already crazy year where we won’t see the first College Football Playoff rankings until the end of November. There’s still plenty of time, but it would take a Herculean effort for the conference to steal one of the four playoff spots this season.

BYU and Cincinnati would love to see some chaos and the Big 12 fall out of the playoff, too.

Oklahoma State falls to No. 14 in my ballot this week as Texas check back in at No. 21. The Longhorns still have two losses and aren’t a complete team, which is why they haven’t jumped the Cowboys despite the box score showing otherwise. Let’s see if Texas can be a little more consistent this time in the Top 25. And maybe this will be a wakeup call to Oklahoma State.

Meanwhile, Ohio State established itself as a viable contender for a playoff spot again this season with a 38-25 win over No. 18 Penn State Saturday. Offensively, quarterback Justin Fields looks like he can do no wrong for Ohio State — he’s only got five incompletions on the season. The Heisman contender threw for 318 yards and four touchdowns on 28-of-34 passing in the win over an overwhelmed Penn State team.

Against the Buckeyes, quarterback Sean Clifford was pressured all game and struggled to get into a rhythm. Ohio State lived in the backfield and managed seven tackles for loss and five sacks. The highlight for Penn State was an incredible one-handed grab by receiver Jahan Dotson for one of his three touchdowns. But the Nittany Lions find themselves in an 0-2 hole and not a lot of time to make up ground.

Penn State dropped out of my rankings this week, and Ohio State remains at No. 3. I’ve debated putting the Buckeyes at No. 2, but I’m trying not to react too much to Clemson being without star quarterback Trevor Lawrence. The real test for Clemson will come next week when they face Notre Dame without Lawrence. Ohio State will be wishing for a little luck of the Irish.

I don’t need to spend too much time on it, but what happened Michigan? Sure, losing to one’s rival happens, but Jim Harbaugh was supposed to resurrect the program and bring it back to its winning ways. Since Harbaugh has taken over as the top dog, the Wolverines are 3-8 against rivals Ohio State (0-5) and Michigan State (3-3) since 2015. Michigan remains a good program, but they still can’t get over the figurative hump — and it doesn’t look like this year will be that year, either.

Dropping Out: Army (6-1), Kansas State (4-2), Penn State (0-2)

Checking In: Auburn (4-2), Texas (4-2), SMU (6-1)

In Consideration: Army (6-1), Liberty (6-0), Northwestern (2-0), Purdue (2-0), San Diego State (2-0), UCF (4-2), West Virginia (4-2)

If you have a question about any of the teams I ranked (or missed), hit me up on Twitter @JFurKSL and I’ll do my best to explain my reasoning.

Josh Furlong

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