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Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Most important game: Baylor Bears

By David Ubben

Our friends at the Pac-12 Blog are going through each team's schedule and projecting what game they see as the team's "most important."

I have my own opinions on that for every team, but I'll ask the fans what they think first before I weigh in on what game I'd pick and why.

You can define "important" in a number of ways, which is why this exercise should be intriguing.

Let's have a closer look at the first team up on our list: Baylor.

Which is the Bears' most important game:

Texas, Dec. 7: Texas is the nation's biggest, richest program and the flagship program within the state. Everyone in the Big 12 loves beating them, and Baylor will get a chance to do it in Waco on the final weekend of the season. Both teams could have Big 12 title aspirations that weekend, and the Bears will be looking for a third win in its last four meetings against the Longhorns.

at TCU, Nov. 30: Turnovers doomed Baylor in this game last year, but the Bears will make a trip to Fort Worth where they've lost by at least 27 points in each of the past three meetings. A win is a win, but both of these teams are battling to raise their profile on the recruiting trail, and the next five games or so in this series could be crucial in a lot more places other than the Big 12 standings.

Oklahoma, Nov. 7: The Bears almost sprung the upset in Norman last season, but Oklahoma could provide a winnable game that allows Baylor to climb further up the Big 12 ladder. The Sooners defense has a lot to prove, but I'm picking the Sooners to finish just one spot ahead of Baylor. The Bears finished tied for third with the Sooners in 2011, but an even higher finish in the Big 12 could be possible with a win here.

vs. Texas Tech, Nov. 16: On the flipside, Texas Tech is a good, experienced team with a new coaching staff who I'm picking to finish behind Baylor. If the Bears lose, a promising season may take a dark turn and result in a slide to the bottom half of the Big 12. That's more familiar territory for a program that's largely struggled throughout the history of the Big 12. Baylor's not looking for a step back, and winning this game would be huge for making sure that doesn't happen.

at Oklahoma State, Nov. 23: The Bears surprised a whole lot of people in their 2012 season finale by knocking off the Pokes, but the possible Big 12 favorites will be ready in Stillwater this year. Nothing earns you more respect than beating the Big 12 champions. Just ask Baylor, who turned around their season and the way everyone saw them by beating BCS No. 1 Kansas State last year. If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best. Does that alone make this the most important game of 2012?