What If ... The 10-Team Big 12 Existed in 2010?

Photo via Bill Carter.

During the gap between regular season and bowls, I tend to whip out a What If... post or two. The impetus for this and other posts in the next couple of weeks should be pretty obvious: after all the MIZZOUEXPANSIONAPALOOZA 2010™ talk this summer, we discussed many scenarios that might play out for Missouri's future, and it's probably about that time to start looking at how things might have unfolded given other scenarios.

We start with the 10-team Big 12.  In mid-June, I took a look at what the Big 12 landscape would have looked like if the 10-team Big 12 had always come into existence (i.e. if Nebraska and Colorado had ended up in their respective conferences in 1996 instead of 2011):

Part One
Part Two
Part Three

Time to see how 2010 might have been similar or different with a ten-team league and nine-game conference schedules for everybody.

Instead of using the schedules as they will really exist in future seasons, I stayed loyal to the games that were actually played this season (and the locations in which they were played) and filled in the rest of the schedule from there.  For Mizzou, that meant home games against Oklahoma State and Baylor and a road trip to Texas (good year for that, eh?).  For Kansas, it meant trips to Oklahoma and Tech and a home game against Texas.  Et cetera.

Below is a week-to-week look at how the season would have played out.  I tried to stay as close as possible to the dates in which the real games were played, but in an effort to move some games around (both into September for TV purposes, and into Championship Week), I did have to make some adjustments.  I had to dump a non-conference game for each team -- my general approach was to dump the second-least impressive opponent.  I figure most teams will still play one FCS team each season, so I dumped the No. 3 game, which is typically a Sun Belt or MAC opponent.  For Missouri, that was Miami-OH.  For Kansas, New Mexico State.  You get the idea.

For the games that didn't actually take place, I simulated them using season-long F/+ numbers.  Obviously that's a rough tool, as some teams were completely different in September than they were in November, but it's what we have to work with.

(Conference games in bold.)

Week One (September 4)

The season begins with just two ranked league teams.  Texas Tech is breaking in new players and a new coach, and Oklahoma State has to replace Dez Bryant and Zac Robinson.  Those two teams, plus Missouri and Texas A&M are all receiving votes.

No. 5 Texas 34, Rice 17 (in Austin)
No. 7 Oklahoma 31, Utah State 24 (in Norman)
Baylor 34, Sam Houston 3 (in Waco)
Iowa State 27, Northern Iowa 0 (in Ames)
North Dakota State 6, Kansas 3 (in Lawrence)
Kansas State 31, UCLA 22 (in Manhattan)
Missouri 23, Illinois 13 (in St. Louis)
Oklahoma State 65, Washington State 17 (in Stillwater)
Texas A&M 48, Stephen F. Austin 7 (in College Station)
Texas Tech 35, SMU 27 (in Lubbock)

Nothing unusual here. The only change is that Iowa State begins with Northern Iowa instead of Northern Illinois.

Week Two (September 11)

No. 5 Texas 24, Texas Tech 14 (in Lubbock)
No. 9 Iowa 35, Iowa State 7 (in Iowa City)
No. 10 Oklahoma 47, Florida State 17 (in Norman)
Kansas 28, No. 15 Georgia Tech 25 (in Lawrence)
Baylor 34, Buffalo 6 (in Waco)
Kansas State 48, Missouri State 24 (in Manhattan)
Missouri 50, McNeese State 6 (in Columbia)

Texas and Tech play in Week Two now, with the same result.  (The results will always be the same no matter the week, just for the sake of ease.)  Kansas still pulls the upset over an incredibly overrated Georgia Tech team.

Conference Standings
Texas 1-0
Texas Tech 0-1

Week Three (September 18)

No. 4 TCU 45, Baylor 10 (in Ft. Worth)
No. 5 Texas 27, Kansas 10 (in Lawrence)
Kansas State 27, Iowa State 20 (in Kansas City)

Missouri 27, San Diego State 24 (in Columbia)
Oklahoma State 65, Tulsa 28 (in Stillwater)
Texas A&M 27, Florida International 20 (in College Station)
Texas Tech 52, New Mexico 17 (in Albuquerque)

Conference Standings
Texas 2-0
Kansas State 1-0
Kansas 0-1
Iowa State 0-1
Texas Tech 0-1

Texas takes care of Kansas in unimpressive fashion, while Kansas State still creeps by Iowa State and Missouri and Texas A&M escape major upset bids.

Week Four (September 25)

Here's where the schedules really begin to noticeably change.  Instead of teams either playing a random cupcake or enjoying a bye week, we've got three solid conference matchups, including one game in which the magnitude is not understood for another few weeks.

UCLA 34, No. 6 Texas 12 (in Austin)
No. 8 Oklahoma 31, Cincinnati 29 (in Cincinnati)
Missouri 35, Oklahoma State 34 (in Columbia)
Baylor 34, Iowa State 30 (in Ames)
Kansas State 30, Texas Tech 24 (in Manhattan)

Missouri bounces back from an iffy performance against San Diego State to knock off Oklahoma State and a still error-prone Brandon Weeden.  F/+ projections gave this one to Mizzou by 0.6 points, so ... yeah.  That game will end up making quite an impact in the conference race.  Missouri and Kansas State both creep into the Top 25 as Texas makes its inevitable move toward the door.

Conference Standings
Kansas State 2-0
Texas 2-0
Baylor 1-0
Missouri 1-0
Kansas 0-1
Oklahoma State 0-1
Iowa State 0-2
Texas Tech 0-2

Week Five (October 2)

No. 8 Oklahoma 28, No. 21 Texas 20 (in Austin)
No. 25 Kansas State 17, Central Florida 13 (in Manhattan)
Baylor 55, Kansas 7 (in Waco)
Iowa State 52, Texas Tech 38 (in Ames)
Oklahoma State 38, Texas A&M 35 (in Stillwater)

Nothing new here.  Baylor assumes first place in the standings.

Conference Standings
Baylor 2-0
Kansas State 2-0
Texas 2-1
Missouri 1-0
Oklahoma 1-0
Oklahoma State 1-1
Texas A&M 0-1
Iowa State 1-2
Kansas 0-2
Texas Tech 0-3

Week Six (October 9)

No. 6 Oklahoma 50, Kansas 3 (in Lawrence)
10 Utah 68, Iowa State 27 (in Ames)
No. 11 Arkansas 24, Texas A&M 17 (in Dallas)
No. 24 Missouri 31, Texas 14 (in Austin)
Texas Tech 45, Baylor 38 (in Dallas)
Oklahoma State 54, UL-Lafayette 28 (in Lafayette)

Missouri begins what is seen as its most brutal portion of the schedule -- at Texas, at Texas A&M, Oklahoma -- witha  resounding, and surprising, win at Darrell K. Royal Stadium.  Nobody yet knows that Texas is at the beginning of a complete tailspin, but Missouri still hands them their third consecutive loss.  The win throws an obvious spark into the Mizzou fanbase, and the Tigers bolt upward in the polls.

(And instead of getting destroyed by Nebraska on national television, Kansas State enjoys a bye week and remains in the Top 25.)

Conference Standings
No. 6 Oklahoma 2-0 (5-0)
No. 16 Missouri 2-0 (5-0)
No. 23 Kansas State 2-0 (5-0)
Baylor 2-1 (4-2)
Texas 2-2 (3-3)
No. 25 Oklahoma State 1-1 (4-1)
Texas A&M 0-1 (2-2)
Iowa State 1-2 (2-4)
Texas Tech 1-3 (3-3)
Kansas 0-3 (1-4)

Week Seven (October 16)

No. 6 Oklahoma 52, Iowa State 0 (in Norman)
No. 16 Missouri 30, Texas A&M 9 (in College Station)
No. 23 Kansas State 59, Kansas 7 (in Lawrence)
No. 25 Oklahoma State 34, Texas Tech 17 (in Lubbock)

All four ranked teams win while Baylor and Texas get the week off.  Mizzou's obliteration of Texas A&M gives them another bump -- they rise to 13th in the AP Poll and seventh in the initial BCS rankings.  And yes, Gameday is still very much coming to Columbia.

Conference Standings (switching to BCS rankings)
No. 1 Oklahoma 3-0 (6-0)
No. 7 Missouri 3-0 (6-0)
No. 15 Kansas State 3-0 (6-0)
No. 23 Oklahoma State 2-1 (5-1)
Baylor 2-1 (4-2)
Texas 2-2 (3-3)
Texas A&M 0-2 (2-3)
Iowa State 1-3 (2-5)
Texas Tech 1-4 (3-4)
Kansas 0-4 (1-5)

Week Eight (October 23)

All real results again this week.

No. 7 Missouri 36, No. 1 Oklahoma 27 (in Columbia)
Baylor 47, No. 15 Kansas State 42 (in Waco)
Iowa State 28, Texas 21 (in Austin)
Texas A&M 45, Kansas 10 (in Lawrence)

Mizzou enters a bye week as the new, temporary national darling, and Texas continues to plummet.

Conference Standings
No. 4 Missouri 4-0 (7-0)
No. 8 Oklahoma 3-1 (6-1)
No. 24 Baylor 3-1 (5-2)
No. 25 Kansas State 3-1 (6-1)
No. 21 Oklahoma State 2-1 (5-1)
Texas 2-3 (3-4)
Iowa State 2-3 (3-5)
Texas A&M 1-2 (3-3)
Texas Tech 1-4 (3-4)
Kansas 0-5 (1-6)

Week Nine (October 30)

No. 21 Oklahoma State 24, No. 25 Kansas State 14 (in Manhattan)
No. 24 Baylor 30, Texas 22 (in Austin)
Iowa State 28, Kansas 16 (in Ames)
Texas A&M 45, Texas Tech 27 (in College Station)

A bit of a boring week, with the top two teams on bye.  Mizzou gets an extra week to get patted on the back for the Oklahoma win ... which makes the following week's result rather devastating.

Conference Standings
No. 3 Missouri 4-0 (7-0)
No. 19 Baylor 4-1 (6-2)
No. 7 Oklahoma 3-1 (6-1)
No. 18 Oklahoma State 3-1 (6-1)
Kansas State 3-2 (6-2)
Iowa State 3-3 (4-5)
Texas A&M 2-2 (4-3)
Texas 2-4 (3-5)
Texas Tech 1-5 (3-5)
Kansas 0-6 (1-7)

At this point, Mizzou's season-ending, Championship Week matchup against Baylor appears to have some serious repercussions, eh?

Week Ten (November 6)

You could make the case that Blaine Gabbert really was still a bit bleary-eyed from the Nebraska when Mizzou headed down to Lubbock, and you could make the case that without the Nebraska game, he'd have played much better against Tech.  But this is meant to be as objective as possible, so ... Mizzou still loses.

Texas Tech 24, No. 3 Missouri 17 (in Lubbock)
Texas A&M 33, No. 7 Oklahoma 19 (in College Station)
No. 18 Oklahoma State 55, No. 19 Baylor 28 (in Stillwater)
Kansas State 39, Texas 14 (in Manhattan)
Southern Miss 31, Kansas 16 (in Hattiesburg -- had to move the game somewhere)

Upheaval in the Big 12ish!  Both top ten teams lose in road trips to Texas, and including Baylor, the top three teams in the standings all go down.  Texas A&M gets some notice for their sudden, Ryan Tannehill-led turnaround ... and Kansas is still terrible.

Conference Standings
No. 12 Missouri 4-1 (7-1)
No. 15 Oklahoma State 4-1 (7-1)
No. 16 Oklahoma 3-2 (6-2)
Baylor 4-2 (6-3)
No. 20 Kansas State 4-2 (7-2)
No. 25 Texas A&M 3-2 (5-3)
Iowa State 3-3 (4-5)
Texas Tech 2-5 (4-5)
Texas 2-5 (3-6)
Kansas 0-6 (1-8)

Despite the lack of a Top 10 team, suddenly the Big 12ish looks like a tremendously deep conference, with five ranked teams and a sixth at 4-2 in conference.  Missouri is reeling from the upset loss in Lubbock, but they hold onto first place thanks to the seemingly innocuous, one-point win over Oklahoma State over a month earlier.

Week 11 (November 13)

No. 12 Missouri 38, No. 20 Kansas State 28 (in Columbia)
No. 25 Texas A&M 42, Baylor 30 (in Waco)
No. 15 Oklahoma State 51, Iowa State 21 (in Stillwater)
No. 16 Oklahoma 45, Texas Tech 7 (in Norman)
Texas 51, Florida Atlantic 17 (in Austin)

Order is restored a bit after a crazy Week Ten -- the top three teams all win, and Texas A&M continues to come on strong.

Conference Standings
No. 10 Missouri 5-1 (8-1)
No. 13 Oklahoma State 5-1 (8-1)
No. 19 Texas A&M 4-2 (6-3)
No. 14 Oklahoma 4-2 (7-2)
Baylor 4-3 (6-4)
Kansas State 4-3 (7-3)
Iowa State 3-4 (4-6)
Texas 2-5 (4-6)
Texas Tech 2-6 (4-6)
Kansas 0-6 (1-8)

With two to three games remaining, six teams are within a game and a half of the conference lead, four within a single game.  Texas A&M has won four in a row and owns the tie-breaker over Oklahoma, but they are still a game behind Missouri and Oklahoma State, both of whom defeated them earlier in the season.  That likely eliminates them from conference title contention.

Week 12 (November 20)

No. 10 Missouri 14, Iowa State 0 (in Ames)
No. 13 Oklahoma State 33, Texas 16

No. 14 Oklahoma 53, Baylor 24 (in Waco)
No. 19 Texas A&M 41, Kansas State 30 (in Manhattan)
Texas Tech 35, Kansas 10 (in Lubbock)

Texas is officially eliminated from bowl contention, while Mizzou maintains their one-game and/or tiebreaker lead over Oklahoma State, A&M and Oklahoma. If Mizzou beats Kansas and Oklahoma beats Oklahoma State, Mizzou is the Big 12ish Champion.

A conference that looked six to seven deep is suddenly four-deep with a mushy middle.  Kansas State has now lost four of five.

Conference Standings
No. 9 Missouri 6-1 (9-1)
No. 11 Oklahoma State 6-1 (9-1)
No. 16 Texas A&M 5-2 (7-3)
No. 12 Oklahoma 5-2 (8-2)
Baylor 4-4 (6-5)
Kansas State 4-4 (7-4)
Iowa State 3-5 (4-7)
Texas Tech 3-6 (5-6)
Texas 2-6 (4-7)
Kansas 0-7 (1-9)

Week 13 (Thanksgiving)

No. 9 Missouri 35, Kansas 7 (in Kansas City)
No. 12 Oklahoma 47, No. 11 Oklahoma State 41 (in Stillwater)
No. 16 Texas A&M 24, Texas 17 (in College Station)

Texas Tech 35, Houston 20 (in Lubbock)

With a one-game lead over Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M, and tie-breaker wins over all three, Mizzou is officially the conference champion after romping over Kansas at Arrowhead.  Who says the new, 10-team structure will make Mizzou's life more difficult?  No trip to Lincoln = conference title.

Also: no trip to Lincoln = even worse record for Texas.  Wow.

Conference Standings
No. 7 Missouri 7-1 (10-1)
No. 9 Oklahoma 6-2 (9-2)
No. 14 Texas A&M 6-2 (8-3)
No. 17 Oklahoma State 6-2 (9-2)
Baylor 4-4 (6-5)
Kansas State 4-4 (7-4)
Iowa State 3-5 (4-7)
Texas Tech 3-6 (6-6)
Texas 2-7 (4-8)
Kansas 0-8 (1-10)

Week 14 (Championship Week)

The matchups here are somewhat scattered -- no truly exciting games.

No. 7 Missouri 36, Baylor 17 (in Columbia)
No. 9 Oklahoma 33, Kansas State 6 (in Norman)
No. 14 Texas A&M 41, Iowa State 14 (in College Station)
No. 17 Oklahoma State 48, Kansas 14 (in Lawrence)

In 1997, Mizzou fans tore down the goalposts after beating Baylor ... primarily because a) they didn't get to after attaining bowl eligibility (the clinching win was in Boulder), and b) they didn't get to after the Flea Kicker.  Do they tear down the goalposts for the second time of the season to celebrate the conference title?  Probably not, I guess.

Conference Standings
No. 7 Missouri 8-1 (11-1)
No. 9 Oklahoma 7-2 (10-2)
No. 13 Texas A&M 7-2 (9-3)
No. 16 Oklahoma State 7-2 (10-2)
Baylor 4-5 (6-6)
Kansas State 4-5 (7-5)
Iowa State 3-6 (4-8)
Texas Tech 3-6 (6-6)
Texas 2-7 (4-8)
Kansas 0-9 (1-11)

No New Mexico State and Colorado = no wins after Georgia Tech for Kansas.  Meanwhile, with a Big Ten Championship game, Mizzou quite possibly moves up to No. 5 or No. 6 depending on the results (they are seventh behind Wisconsin and Ohio State at the moment).  They are not a player in the national title race thanks to the Texas Tech loss, but ... they quite possibly wouldn't have been anyway thanks to Oregon and Auburn.  Computer rankings might have given them a chance against Oregon, but the polls probably would have kept the Ducks ahead anyway.  Still, a conference title is a conference title, eh?

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