The Big 12 no longer has a conference championship game in football. That ended three years ago when the conference structure dropped from 12 to 10 schools.
The showdown this coming Saturday, however, between undefeated Baylor, ranked No. 4 in the latest BCS standings, and one-loss Oklahoma State, the preseason favorite of the conference coaches to win its second league crown in three seasons, is as good as it gets. And for all intents and purposes, that contest in Stillwater, Okla., will serve as a conference championship game.
The backloaded 2013 Big 12 schedule has had the conference contenders taking on each other in each of the final five weekends of the season. And it may all come down to the final weekend of the regular season – with Oklahoma at Oklahome State and Texas at Baylor – before all is finally decided.
Kansas State and Texas Tech are prime examples of reversal of fortunes over the course of the football season. The Red Raiders opened up the first half of the schedule with seven consecutive wins, four of them against Big 12 foes, and the league’s second most explosive offense, which certainly is nothing new for a team from Texas Tech. Since then, though, the Red Raiders have lost four consecutive games, dropped out of the national rankings and fallen to 7-4 overall and 4-4 in the Big 12.
And with a road date with Texa looming on Thanksgiving night, there is a good chance the Red Radiers’ losing string could reach five to end the regular season. The good news is that Tech has been bowl eligible (six or more wins) since before the losing string began.
Kansas State, on the other hand, opened its Big 12 schedule with consecutive losses to Texas and Oklahoma State, both on the road, and at home against conference leader Baylor. Those three teams have a combined conference record of 18-2. Since losing to Baylor by just 10 points, however, the Wildcats have reeled off four consecutive victories to raise their conference record above .500, at 4-3.
“We’ve gotten better and better as we’ve worked through the course of the season,” said K-State head coach Bill Snyder. “We’re learning, and it’s not just about football. I think they have a little better understanding of what it really takes to succeed.”
Big 12 Football Power Rankings – Week 12
(Last week’s rankings in parentheses)
- Baylor Bears (1) - Only two more opponsnts (Oklahoma State and Texas) stand between the Bears and an undefeated, championship regular season.
- Oklahoma State Cowboys (2) – The Cowboys control their own destiny with back-to-back home games against Baylor and Bedlam rival Oklahoma to close out the regular season.
- Texas Longhorns (3) – Coach Mack Brown says his team still has its goal of winning the Big 12 in front of them. Chances of that are about as good as Brown staying in his job for a 17th season..
- Oklahoma Sooners (4) – Injuries to key defensive players and inconsistent quarterback play have put OU a notch below most Sooner seasons.
- Kansas State Wildcats – Kansas State may be playing the best of any team not named Baylor or Oklahoma State right now.
- Texas Tech Red Raiders (5) – A demoralizing and disastrous month-long run of bad luck for the Red Raiders.
- TCU Horned Frogs (8) - TCU finally found some offense against Kansas State, but the Horned Frogs “D,” the strength of the team, couldn’t get it done.
- West Virginia Mountaineers (7) - It’s been a very difficult season for head coach Dana Holgorsen and the Mountaineers
- Kansas Jayhawks (9) – Can the Jayhawks make it two in a row this Saturday against last-place Iowa State.
- Iowa State Cyclones (10) - The Cyclones may be the best 1-10 team in the country. Four of their 10 losses have been by eight points or less.