With one of the biggest games of the year coming up on Thursday night with Baylor, ranked No. 5 in this week’s BCS standings, hosting No. 10 Oklahoma, the division between the top five teams in the Big 12 and the bottom half of the conference continues to become wider.
Case in point: Entering Week 11 in the 2013 Big 12 football season, the top five teams in the conference standings (Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech) had a combined record of 21-4 in league games. Meanwhile, the five teams that make up the lower half of the standings are a combined 5-22. This will all even out somwhat and become less of a divide – but a sizeable gap, nonetheless, between the top and lower halves of the conference – when several big games on the schedule come up in the next several weeks.
Defending conference co-champion Kansas State hasn’t really been a factor this season after starting off its conference schedule against Texas, Oklahoma State – both on the road – and Baylor at home in a game that was much closer than expected. Since that ominous start in Big 12 action, however, the Wildcats have rebounded for two consecutive wins.
Any Bill Snyder-coached team is dangerous, though, and Kansas State, although out of title contention this season, could still play a factor in the final conference standings. The Wildcats are at struggling Texas Tech this weekend and play host to Oklahoma in several weeks.
Baylor, by far, has the most difficult closing schedule with games remaining against OU this Thursday, followed by consecutive dates with Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, TCU and the season finale at home against in-state rival Texas, which very well could be for the conference championship.
Talking about his team’s big game this week against 10th-ranked Oklahoma in his weekly press conference, Baylor coach Art Briles said: “We just see one game at a time, and this is our game this week. It just happens to be biger because of the way they’ve performed and the way we’ver performed up until this point.
“There’s a good possibility there could be bigger ones,” he said, “so we’ve just got to take care of business this Thursday.”
If these upcoming Big 12 matchups don’t get your blood flowing, nothing will:
Texas Tech vs. Baylor in Arlington, Texas (AT&T Stadium)
Oklahoma State @ Texas
Baylor @ Oklahoma State
November 28 (Thanksgiving)
Texas Tech @ Texas
Baylor @ TCU
Texas @ Baylor
Oklahoma @ Oklahoma State
Big 12 Week 11 Power Rankings
(Last week’s ranking in parentheses)
- Baylor Bears (1) – Can validate their legitimacy with a win over injury-depleted but still dangerous and nationally ranked Oklahoma.
- Texas Longhorns (2) – No one has had a more favorable conference schedule to date than the 5-0, first-place Longhorns.
- Oklahoma Sooners (3) – OU has not been an underdog all season, but the Sooners are this week, despite having lost only once to Baylor in 22 all-time meetings.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (5) – Cowboys have Baylor and Oklahoma at home in final two regular-season games. But Kansas this weekend at home, with a chance to move up.
- Texas Tech Red Raiders (4) - In free fall last two weeks, but still has the two league leaders (Baylor and Texas) ahead on schedule.
- Kansas State Wildcats (6)- The Cats played their best defense of the season vs. Iowa State; it will take every bit of that to steal a win at Texas Tech on Saturday.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (8) – Dana Holgorsen team faces another tough defensive unit on Saturday, but Texas’ offense is considerably better than TCU’s.
- TCU Horned Frogs (7) – Only three wins on the season and with Baylor still to play. On pace to their worst season since finishing 5-6 in 2004.
- Kansas Jayhawks (9) – Chalk up consecutive conference loss number 26 when the Jayhawks visit Oklahoma State this weekend.
- Iowa State Cyclones (10) – Kansas, in three weeks, might be only thing standing betwwen the Cyclones and a winless conference season.