The runaway Baylor train continued to roar down the track on Saturday on a one-way path to a conference championship, while Oklahoma State hammered Texas to stay on the Bears’ trail and set up the potential Big 12 game of the year next weekend in Stillwater.
Just a couple of short weeks ago, their were five teams in the Big 12 with no more than a game separating them from the conference lead. Entering Week 13, the race now boils down to three, but realistically just two: undefeated and No, 3 ranked Baylor (according to the current AP poll), 11th-ranked Oklahoma State and, with an outside shot, Texas, which was at No. 23 before losing over the weekend to OSU.
Two huge matchups remain on the schedule that will determine the conference championship. Next weekend Baylor will face its toughest test of the year (if it seems like I’ve been saying this the past two weeks, you are absolutely dead on), when the Bears visit Oklahoma State, the team with the best chance of derailing the Baylor dream season of anyone on the conference this year.
Two weeks ago, Baylor (9-0, 6-0) started down an onerous path of consecutive games that consisted of Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and the regular-season finale against Texas. A murderers row if there ever was one. Decisive victories over the Sooners and Red Raiders are now behind them, but coach Art Briles’ high-octane offensive machine still has the Cowboys and in-state rival Texas remaining.
Now the math gets very simple: Beat Oklahoma State and Texas and the Bears not only will clinch their first Big 12 championship, but possibly be looking at a birth in the BCS National Championship game.
After falling behind 14-0 and 20-7 in the first quarter in its game with Texas Tech, the largest deficit the Bears have faced this season, Baylor rallied for a 21-20 lead by the end of the opening quarter. And the Bears continued pouring it on from there, again winning decisively, 63-34. Despite being without two of their top players on offense (wide receiver Tevin Reese and the Big 12′s leading rusher, Lache Seastrunk), the Bears still totaled over 300 yards each running and throwing the ball (675 yards of total offense) and scored over 60 points for the sixth time in nine games.
“Tonight’s performance showed us a lot,” said Baylor quarterback and Heisman Trophy candidate Bryce Petty after the game. “We are a resilient team. I think there’s a lot of talent involved, but we have a lot of guys that work hard. And that’s what you’ve got to have.”
Meanwhile, Oklahoma State (8-1, 6-1) put a huge damper on Texas’ chances of capturing itsfourth Big 12 championship in football, putting the Longhorns away early and cruising to a 38-13 victory. Statistically, the game was much closer. There was only nine yards difference in total offense (389 for OSU, 380 for Texas) and the time of possession was fiarly equal. The Cowboys turned their offensive production into points, however, while Texas (7-3, 6-1) reached the red zone just three times.
Said Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy: “You seldom go on the road and win by three touchdowns against a team that had gotten to the middle of November undefeated in conference play.”
Texas still is alive for a conference title, but just barely, and the Longhorns do not control their own destiny. No question they will be rooting heavily for OSU to upset the Bears next weekend. But for Texas to win the conference, Oklahoma State would have to defeat Baylor and lose to Oklahoma in its final game, which is not a likely scenario. Even if this were somehow to play out, Texas would need to beat Texas Tech on Thanksgiving night and then beat Baylor in Waco on Dec. 7 to win the conference crown outright. Too many “ifs” if you ask me.
And what about Kansas? The Jayhawks faithful stormed the Memorial Stadium field after Kansas (3-7, 1-6) snapped a 27-game losing streak against conference opponents with a convincing 31-19 win over West Virginia (4-7, 2-6). It was Charlie Weis’ first Big 12 win in two seasons as the Jayhawks’ head coach. The Jayhawks won’t be going bowling, but this win before the home crowd just may have made their season.
Kansas State continued putting Ws in the win column, with a game-winning 42-yard field goal with 19 seconds left in the game for a thrilling 33-31 come-from-behind victory over a reeling TCU team (4-7, 2-6). The Horned Frogs had just taken the lead two minutes earlier, 31-30, on a 56-yard field goal. Next up for the Wildcats, now 4-3 in the conference after four straight league wins and bowl eligible with a 6-4 overall record, is injury-plagued Oklahoma (8-2, 5-2), 1 48-10 winner over Iowa State on Saturday in the Sooners’ final home game of the season.
The Oklahoma win was the 157th in Bob Stoops 15 seasons as the Sooners’ head coach, tying him with the legendary Barry Switzer as the coach with the most wins in OU football history.
A Few More Things We Learned From the Week 12 Big 12 Action
- Kansas State has won four consecutive conference games after losing its first three and four of its first six games. With two more victories, over struggling Oklahoma and on the road at Kansas, the Wildcats will be in prime position to earn one of the top-tier Big 12 postseason bowl bids.
- Not only had Kansas lost 27 straight Big 12 games dating back three seasons coming into its game Saturday with West Virginia, but the Jayhawks’ struggling offense was 117th out of 120 FBS teams this season in total offense and scoring. Kansas had 31 points on Saturday and 315 rushing yards, almost double its season average. James Sims of the Jayhawks had career-high 211 yards of KU’s rushing total by himself.
- TCU is 4-7 this season, with one game remaining, a home game against Baylor the weekend after next. This will be the first season since 2004 that TCU has not gone to a postseason bowl.
- Texas Tech was 7-0 and 4-0 in the conference just a month ago and ranked ninth in the first week of the BCS standings. Since then, the Red Raiders have failed to win a game, losing four straight. They have only Texas remaining on the 2013 schedule, so Tech could be staring at finishing the regular season with five straight losses after starting the season undefeated through the first seven games.
- West Virginia scored a touchdown on its opening drive against Kansas, the first team to score on its first possession against the Jayhawks this season. It didn’t matter, though, as Kansas went on to defeat the Mountaineers and record its first conference win in three seasons.
- Texas owns a 23-5 series lead over Oklahoma State despite losing at home to the Cowboys on Saturday. Three of those Longhorns losses to OSU, however, have come in the Cowboys’ last three visits to Austin.
- Since 2011, Baylor is 13-1 in the months of November and December and 5-1 vs. ranked teams.
- Iowa State has won only one game all season, but is 25 of 26 in the red zone, first in the Big 12. Nineteen of those red-zone scores have been for touchdowns.