Generally speaking, the teams that play the best in the month of November are the ones left standing when the season battles are finished and it comes time to crown a conference champion. That will truly be the case in the Big 12 this season, as the three top contenders – Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State all play each other between now and Dec. 7, the final weekend of the regular season.
Four Big 12 teams remain in the top 25 of the BCS and the two major weekly national polls, except the names and order are different than one week ago. Texas has worked its way back into the top-25 after a 10-week absence, checking in at No. 24 in the BCS standings this week, replacing Texas Tech, which drops out after suffering its third consecutive conference loss this past weekend (to resurgent Kansas State) after beginning the season a perfect 7-0.
Oklahoma dropped eight places in the BCS standings, from No. 10 to 18, following its 41-12 beatdown by No. 5 Baylor (the Bears are fourth nationally in both the AP and USA Today polls). Oklahoma State moved up to No. 12 in the BCS rankings from 14.
For a conference perceived to be all about offensive football at the expense of playing defense, the Big 12 is flexing its muscles more so this season than in the past. Three Big 12 teams rank in the top 25 nationally in total defense (Baylor 9, Oklahoma 13 and TCU 21).
Even more impressive to me, though, is that four teams from the conference are among the top 25 in one of the most critical defense categories: opponents’ third-down-conversion success ratio. Oklahoma State is sixth in the country in stopping its opponents on third down (Cowboys’ opponents have been successful on third down just 30 percent of the time). Baylor is 13th (32 percent), Texas Tech 18th (33 percent) and Oklahoma 22nd (34 percent).
Another interesting statistic from last week’s Big 12 action – Week 11 in the 2013 college football season – revolves around Baylor’s 29-point victory margin over previously 10th-ranked Oklahoma. That was the fourth loss by the Sooners in the last five seasons. Oklahoma suffered the same margin of defeat just fivc times in head coach Bob Stoops’ first 10 years at OU.
Here are a dozen more fun and fascinating facts and figures that help add some additional perspective on Big 12 football this season:
1.2 – Average of sacks per game by former walk-on Ryan Mueller, a linebacker for Kansas State, tying him for first in the FBS in that category. he had a career-high three sacks last weekend in the Wildcats win over Texas Tech.
2 – Overtime games West Virginia has played in this season – both in the last two weeks (beat TCU, lost to Texas, both in OT). It is the only time in WVU history that the team has played in consecutive overtime games.
5 – Number of times Texas has been 6-0 in Big 12 play under head coach Mack Brown (199, 2005, 2008, 2009, 2013).
6 – Number of career kickoff returns by Oklahoma State’s Justin Gilbert. he had one on the very first play of the game last week vs. Kansas. He is the Big 12 career leader in that category.
7:09 – Length of time in minutes and seconds it took Baylor to get a field goal and get its first point on the scoreboard vs. Oklahoma. That is the longest Baylor has gone scoreless in a game all season.
22 – Oklahoma is ranked No. 22 in the latest Associated Press poll. That’s the lowest the Sooners have been ranked since the same poll position in 2009.
37 – Number of consecutive games won by Kansas State when leading at halftime. That is the fourth-longest active streak in the country.
50 – Iowa State punter Kirby Van Der Kamp has completed two pass attempts in his career. Both were on fake punts and both were for 50 yards, including one Saturday against visiting TCU.
55 – Number of forced three-and-outs the Baylor defense has registered in 119 drives by its opponents through eight games.
95 – Kansas held Oklahoma State to 85 yards rushing on Saturday, 95 yards under the Cowboys’ 180-yards-per-game average. The Jayhaewks rushed for a season-high 202 yards in the same game.
112 – Big 12 rushing leader Lache Seastrunk of Baylor is 112 yards short of reaching the 1,000-yard mark for the season.
257 – Consecutive extra points made by Texas Tech kickers before one was blocked by Kansas State on Saturday.