We’re down to the final four or five games in the Big 12 football season for 2013, and now is when things really start to heat up for the league contenders. The five teams that make up the upper half of the conference standings going into Week 10 – Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech - have a combined season record of 32-5 and 19-3 in Big 12 games.
Of those five teams, only Texas has lost more than one game, and until last weekend, two teams – Baylor and Texas Tech - were undefeated. A big reason why so many teams are bunched at the top is the way the schedule was structured this season. For the most part, the haves, or the more talented teams, have been playing and beating up on the have nots, the lesser fortunate in the league. But that all changes beginning this coming weekend and continuing on through the end of the regular season.
And things could conceivably come down to the last Saturday, Dec. 7, when two big matchups are scheduled. That’s when Bedlam takes place in Stillwater between in-state rivals Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, and Texas is at Baylor. The other major conferences hold their league championship games on that weekend, and the way the schedule maker has it, that could well be the weekend the Big 12 championship is decided.
Oklahoma is the only one of the five current contenders in the Big 12 to have played two of the other four with only a third of the season left to play. The Sooners have split the two games – a loss to Texas and a win over previously unbeaten and 10th-ranked Texas Tech last weekend. That sets up a tremendous dogfight over the next six weeks that is certain to change the current configuration of the conference standings.
Oklahoma State has games remaining at Texas Tech this weekend and at Texas in a couple of weeks, and the Cowboys close out the season with back-to-back games at home against Baylor and Oklahoma. Baylor has five games remaining: Oklahoma, Texas Tech in Arllington, Oklahoma Stwte there, at TCU and at home with Texas.
Texas Tech still has Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas to play, with Oklahoma State being the only one of the three games in Lubbock. And finally, Texas still has to go to Baylor, but has Oklahoma State and Texas Tech at home.
It is difficult to say which school has the easiest path to a potential league championship, but it appears that Oklahoma may have the most difficult road to hoe with no home games remaining against the two other conference contenders the Sooners have to face. Texas Tech also has a tough schedule, with only a home date with Oklahoma State left against the three contenders the Red Raiders have left to play.
Oklahoma State has two home games and two on the road against the four other teams the Pokes are chasing, but their one conference loss was against a non-contending team, West Virginia, which means the Cowboys may have to sweep their remaining games to have a legitimate shot at the conference crown.
That leaves Baylor and Texas, the two schools that remain undefeated in Big 12 play. Baylor has all four of the current league contenders left to play, but the Bears also must travel to Ft. Worth to face always dangerous TCU. Baylor cannot afford to get caught looking past TCU in anticipation of its following game with Texas.
Meanwhile, the Longhorns have already soundly beaten Oklahoma and have Oklahoma State and Texas Tech at home in the coming weeks. UT’s only other game is the season finale at Baylor.
So as we head past Halloween and into the month of Thanksgiving, I’m afraid things are going to get more scary for the teams at the top before anyone is going to be in a position to give thanks.
Simple logic says that the Baylor-Texas game is the one that will determine the league champion, but we all know that logic never holds when it comes college football predictions
Big 12 Football Power Rankings – Week 10
(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
- Baylor Bears (1) - This train is rolling down the track at an incredibly high rate of speed, and it appears that any team that ventures into its path is destined for a really rough outcome.
- Texas Longhorns (4) - The Horns are 4-0, but like all of the top teams in the league, face their most difficult road dead ahead.
- Oklahoma Sooners (5) - The Sooners go up against unbeaten and unchallenged Baylor next. OU will have to bring its AAA+ game to slow down this train, and even that probably won’t be enough.
- Texas Tech Red Raiders (2) - Red Raiders might want to turn back the clock, again, a month from now after games with Oklahoma State, Baylor and at Texas.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (3) - Title hopes pretty much depend on performance at Texas Tech this weekend.
- Kansas State Wildcats (7) - It wasn’t particularly pretty until very late, but Cats finally got back on the winning track at home against West Virginia.
- TCU Horned Frogs (6) - A promising season gone sour. One positive is: Frogs are the best team in the lower half of the Big 12.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (8) - At least they can say they beat a ranked team (Oklahoma State) this season. QB issues persist.
- Kansas Jayhawks (10) - Jayhawks’ three-year conference losing streak may not end this season, but this team is definitely better than last year’s.
- Iowa State Cyclones (9) - It’s becoming glaringly obvious that the Cyclones played over their heads in a one-point loss at home to Texas.