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Thursday, March 21, 2013
Breaking down the Big 12 football bracket

By David Ubben

It's hard not to wake up with a smile on your face on a day like today. Sure, I cover football, but the first two days of the NCAA tournament are two of the best of the year. In just a few hours, 16 college basketball games will tip off and we'll do the same thing again on Friday.

To celebrate, we'll have a little theoretical bracket competition in the Big 12 with next season's teams.

Here's how I'm seeding the league's 10 teams:
  1. Oklahoma State
  2. TCU
  3. Texas
  4. Oklahoma
  5. Baylor
  6. Texas Tech
  7. Kansas State
  8. West Virginia
  9. Iowa State
  10. Kansas

So, how would a 10-team bracket play out? Here's how I slot it. Feel free to provide your own conclusions in the comments. The Big 12, like this year's NCAA tournament, is wide open. Anything could happen, but assume that these games are played during this week. (Note: Players injured this spring will be included, as will early enrolling freshmen. Freshmen not on campus are not eligible for these games).

Play-in games (at Hutchinson Junior College in Hutchinson, Kansas):

No. 7 Kansas State vs. No. 10 Kansas: KU's got a bit more experience on its side, but experience doesn't mean much in this latest iteration of the Sunflower Showdown. Bill Snyder gets the best of the Jayhawks on the kind of field he knows very, very well. Kansas State 38, Kansas 20

No. 8 West Virginia vs. No. 9 Iowa State: This game was too close for comfort in November, but Iowa State's Sam Richardson makes enough plays to outgun an inexperienced WVU offense and a still-learning defense. West Virginia goes with experience at quarterback in Paul Millard, but the timing is still a bit off. Iowa State 31, West Virginia 30

FIRST ROUND (in the Alamodome in San Antonio, Texas)

No. 1 Oklahoma State vs. No. 7 Kansas State: These two have had some classic battles over the past two years, but OSU quarterback Clint Chelf finishes without a turnover, and that gets the job done. If OSU hadn't thrown an interception against Kansas State in Manhattan last year, the Pokes might have pulled the upset. Cowboys running back Jeremy Smith goes off against Kansas State's new defensive line. Oklahoma State 47, Kansas State 31

No. 2 TCU vs. No. 9 Iowa State: Iowa State beat the heck out of TCU in Fort Worth last year, but that was just days after the Frogs lost quarterback Casey Pachall. Pachall is back, and so is running back Waymon James. Iowa State's green linebackers get bowled over by James' power. TCU 21, Iowa State 13

No. 3 Texas vs. No. 6 Texas Tech: Texas Tech is still searching for its offensive identity, and Texas defensive end Jackson Jeffcoat isn't all about giving the Red Raiders time to do it. The Red Raiders get off to a nice start, though Texas' running game seizes control in the second half. Tech's Michael Brewer hits Jace Amaro for a pair of long gains and finds Eric Ward for the game-winning touchdown in the final seconds. Sounds oddly familiar, no? Texas Tech 31, Texas 27

No. 4 Oklahoma vs. No. 5 Baylor: Oklahoma's quarterback gets off to a decent start, but Baylor's defense is still red-hot and Baylor's Bryce Petty outguns Oklahoma's Blake Bell in the debut for both quarterbacks. It's a breakout game for redshirt freshman Baylor receiver Jay Lee, too. The Sooners' young defense is caught off guard. Baylor 41, Oklahoma 31

SEMIFINALS (at Reliant Stadium in Houston, Texas)

No. 1 Oklahoma State vs. No. 5 Baylor: Baylor sprung the upset late in the season, and leads by double digits early in this one before Chelf rallies with a pair of touchdown passes to Charlie Moore and a third to Blake Jackson. The senior is trying to prove he deserves the job permanently, but OSU seals the game with a late score on the ground from J.W. Walsh in the short-yardage formation, overcoming 185 rushing yards from Baylor's Lache Seastrunk. Oklahoma State 44, Baylor 31

No. 2 TCU vs. No. 6 Texas Tech: Texas Tech's offense gets completely suffocated by TCU's defense, and defensive end Devonte Fields makes life tough for Tech's Brewer. Tech can't establish the running game to offset the rush, and TCU's cornerbacks lock down the Red Raiders' screen game, too. Ugly, ugly game to watch. For anyone but TCU fans, anyway. TCU 20, Texas Tech 10

CHAMPIONSHIP (at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas)

No. 1 Oklahoma State vs. No. 2 TCU: Are we allowed to have a Big 12 title game (and semifinals) without Texas or Oklahoma involved? The league's top two squads in my book survived a pair of games to reach the finals, and both teams are solid on both sides of the ball. Oklahoma State's offense is better. TCU's defense is better. Both teams' weaker units are still solid, though. At the end of the game, it's exactly what we wanted to see. Chelf, Smith and Tracy Moore going head to head with Fields and Jason Verrett for the Frogs. OSU has been there before and drives the length of the field before kicker Bobby Stonebraker proves Oklahoma State's edge in the special teams is the difference with a 45-yard, game-winning field goal. Oklahoma State 31, TCU 28

Cue up One Shining Moment!