Oklahoma State dominated, overwhelmed and generally embarrassed OU in a 44-10 win in Stillwater, Okla., in December 2011. It was a humbling defeat that left a lasting image of OSU fans rushing the field at BPS and celebrating at the expense of the Sooners. But it’s not something the Sooners plan to use as motivation this week.
“We don’t talk so much about what happened as far as win or losses,” said OU cornerback Aaron Colvin, who started at safety in that blowout loss. “We don’t talk about that. We do talk about the preparation that goes into this game.”
When OU visits Stillwater on Saturday, the Sooners will face the difficult task of knocking off the No. 6-ranked Cowboys, who are coming off a 49-17 home win over then-No. 4 Baylor. As good as OSU has been in the Big 12 the past few seasons, it has been even better at Boone Pickens Stadium. OSU is 22-3 at home since 2010, averaging 49.7 points and 536 yards per game and 7.21 yards per play in those 25 contests.
As difficult as the task of winning in Stillwater will be, don’t expect the Sooners to make drastic changes on offense with the hope of keeping up with a Cowboys squad that is averaging 47.8 points and 449 yards per game and 6.1 yards per play in their five wins since Clint Chelf regained his starting quarterback spot.
“You’ve got to be who you are,” OU offensive coordinator Josh Heupel said. “We’re playing an opponent who has a really good defense and is playing well as a team.”
OU’s offense is coming off arguably its best game of the season and the trigger man, Trevor Knight, is playing the best football of his young career. The redshirt freshman recorded a 90.4 adjusted Total QBR in OU’s 41-31 win over Kansas State which was a season-best in a game he has started. The Sooners offense, if Knight plays like he did against K-State, will have the firepower to keep up with OSU, giving Heupel and the rest of the offensive staff hope that drastic changes aren’t needed.
“It’s a hostile environment and a big game, so you’ve got to be who you are,” Heupel said. “You can always add wrinkles and things that you think give you an opportunity against their schemes. But for the most part you are who you are at this point in the year.”
Will that be good enough? We'll find out on Saturday.
Several programs in the Big 12 have long searched the junior college ranks for quick fixes for their football program. Others are just warming up the idea. Here is a look at the top five junior college players in the ESPN JC 50 that Big 12 programs are going after for 2014:
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Matt (Stillwater): Has Bedlam taken over as the Big 12's top rivalry?
Jake Trotter: Bedlam is a long way from overtaking the Red River Rivalry. However, there's no doubt that Bedlam has had more riding on it in terms of Big 12 titles the last five seasons. After the Iron Bowl, Army-Navy, Ohio State-Michigan and the Red River Rivalry, Bedlam has been right there with any rivalry in college football the last five years. It has a chance to only get better, if Oklahoma State can start winning on consistent basis.
Dustin (Tulsa): Is this Trevor Knight's breakout game or is the OSU D too strong?
Jake Trotter: It's a tough matchup for Knight. For one, Oklahoma State has the CBs to lock up OU's WRs on the outside one-on-one. That will allow OSU to add another body to the box, like it did against Baylor. Knight was terrific against K-State, but OSU's front seven is the best in the league. It will not be easy for the Sooners to move the ball.
Harry (Miami): I thought Iowa State was on an upswing. What happened this season? Too many young players? Lack of talent? Poor coaching? All of the above? Thanks.
Jake Trotter: All of the above.
BOXMAN (Everywhere): Assuming OSU and Baylor win, what bowl game do you see Baylor playing in?
Jake Trotter: Cotton Bowl.
Mike (Lenexa, Kan.): Who are your offense/defense players of the year?
Jake Trotter: At the moment, Bryce Petty and Caleb Lavey.
Steven (Atlanta): I'm a Texas fan, but I'm also a realist. Do you think our best defensive ends (Jackson Jeffcoat, Cedric Reed) will be able to apply enough pressure on Bryce Petty to give us a chance this weekend?
Jake Trotter: No question. Watch the TCU game. The Frogs got pressure all game.
Patrick (Waco): Who gets the edge in the trenches between Texas and Baylor?
Jake Trotter: Interesting question. Up the middle, Baylor has the advantage on offense. But can its tackles block Reed and Jeffcoat? On the other side of the ball, I think Texas could have success pounding the ball inside.
Handel (Canton): The 2014 Big 12 MVP will be?
Jake Trotter: Petty would have to be the early favorite, right?
Justin (Stillwater): With the season nearing completion, who's your Big 12 head coach, offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator of the year?
Jake Trotter: As of today, Art Briles, Philip Montgomery and Glenn Spencer.
KD (Houston): I might have missed it but what's your take on Gary Patterson's rant?
Jake Trotter: I get what Patterson was trying to do, but the timing of it was poor, with Briles having suddenly lost his brother just a couple days before.
Shawn (OK): With the addition of TCU and WV are you surprised that those teams are struggling, even in these last two years the Big 12 has been down?
Jake Trotter: To this degree, yes. There was always going to be an adjustment. But I never expected either team to miss out on bowls in their second seasons in the league.
Larry (Arvada): How much do you HATE WVU... and feel that WVU does not deserve to be in the Big 12... your columns and writings seem to point that out.
Jake Trotter: Why, because I put West Virginia last in the power rankings? That's what happens when you lose to Kansas and Iowa State to finish out the season. Just calling it like I see it.
- Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon insists he had no bad intentions with his targeting hit against TCU. The Bears are excited to close out Floyd Casey Stadium.
- Going back to Clint Chelf has proven to be a gutsy move for Oklahoma State's coaches. Glenn Spencer praises the elite talent OU still has this season.
- Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops calls the role of the spoiler the "lowest form of motivation" his team could have. Cornerback Aaron Colvin plans to play against OSU.
- Texas once again relishes its role as the underdog this week. An early-season players-only meeting helped change the Longhorns' season.
- What should Iowa State seek in its next offensive coordinator? ISU defensive lineman David Irving pleads not guilty to assault charges. Grant Rohach is the Big 12 Offensive Player of the Week.
- Gary Patterson's postgame rant on Saturday went ignored by Art Briles.
- How will Dana Holgorsen go about fixing West Virginia this offseason?
- John Hubert answered the call for the Kansas State offense once again. The Wildcats seem likely to end up in the Holiday Bowl. KSU schedules UTEP for 2014.
- Kliff Kingsbury explains his fashion choices to Esquire. A look at some crazy stats from the Big 12 in week 14, including Ryan Erxleben's season-long run.
- Kansas landed a junior college offensive lineman on Monday as well as a pledge from his teammate, a fellow lineman.
When Oklahoma faces Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Sooners defense will take the field with an extra bit of confidence knowing they have faced, and beaten, Cowboys quarterback Clint Chelf, who has terrorized Big 12 defenses while leading the Cowboys to wins over Texas Tech, Baylor and Texas. It will be just the second time this season that the Sooners will face a starting quarterback who started against them in 2012 (TCU’s Trevone Boykin is the other).
Chelf is playing as well as any quarterback in the nation during the past four weeks but the Sooners handed the senior his first loss as a starter with OU’s 51-48 victory in Bedlam last season. And that experience might be just what OU’s defense needs to slow OSU’s quarterback.
“Not only do we have film on him but a lot of the guys actually played against him last year,” defensive end Geneo Grissom said. “So we have a good idea of what he’s capable of.”
In a lot of ways, last year’s Bedlam outing was an early sign that Chelf could step up in big games. He passed for 253 yards with one touchdown and one interception while finishing with an 82.8 adjusted QBR in his first-ever start against the Sooners. This season, he’s continued to play well in big games, recording a 92.7 adjusted QBR in a 52-34 win against Texas Tech, a 97.7 adjusted QBR in a 38-13 win over Texas and a 97.6 adjusted QBR in a 49-17 win over Baylor during the month of November. All three opponents were ranked heading into their battle with OSU.
“I played Clint in high school as well,” said Sooners cornerback Aaron Colvin, who played against Chelf when he was at Owasso (Okla.) High School and Chelf was at Enid (Okla.) High School.
“So I’ve always known the type of player he was, he’s always been that type of player, he can run, he can throw, he can do it all. Guys are just now starting to see it.”
Chelf’s versatility makes him extremely hard to defend. He ran for more than 80 yards and key scores against both the Red Raiders and Longhorns. Yet his passing ability, particularly his accuracy, has allowed Chelf to take advantage of defenses.
“He’s a pocket thrower that they keep you off-balance with his ability to run,” Stoops said. “We saw that a year ago in their second series, a quarterback draw hurt us early in the game a year ago, so that’s something you have to be prepared for from a defensive [standpoint]. You know, we have to account for him in certain situations.”
The Sooners won’t be caught off guard by anything Chelf brings to the table on Saturday, they’ve seen it before. Yet, that doesn’t mean they’ll be able to stop it. After all, the senior led OSU to 48 points in Norman last season.
“We’re going to have our hands full with him,” Grissom said. “He’s having a great season, he’s been able to run the ball and throw a little bit.”
And even though several members of OU’s defense have played against Chelf, they haven’t seen this version of the Cowboys quarterback. He’s improved, his confidence is soaring and he’s emerged as the clear foundation of his team’s success.
“It does help [we’ve played him before] because we have seen what kind of game he does have, what he does like to do,” Colvin said. “But you can’t go off last year because guys’ games change, their skill sets change. For him, I think he’s a very confident player and when you have a confident player, it can be hard to stop sometimes.”
Monday, I spent the afternoon on the phone trying to find out how bowls with Big 12 tie-ins might react to the final two regular-season games, and the different bowl scenarios that might ensue.
Here’s what that reporting revealed:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1)
The Fiesta is pretty obvious and clear-cut. Oklahoma State goes if it wins Bedlam. If it doesn’t, the winner of Baylor-Texas goes.
Because the Fiesta has the last at-large selection this year, the Big 12 opponent would be Northern Illinois. However, if the Huskies were upset in the MAC title game, the opponent would then be AAC champ Central Florida, assuming the Knights take care of SMU this weekend.
Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2)
Assuming there were no upsets in the ACC or Big Ten title games, an 11-1 Baylor would be the highest-ranked at-large available.
Waiting there would be Alabama or the winner of the SEC championship game, if Missouri or Auburn doesn't make it into the national title game.
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3)
This is where things get interesting.
If Oklahoma State and Northern Illinois win this weekend, the Cotton would take the winner of Baylor-Texas.
But if Oklahoma State lost Bedlam? The Cotton could actually lean toward the Cowboys. This might irk Sooners fans, but remember, bowls prefer not taking repeat teams, and Oklahoma played in the Cotton last year.
As for the SEC opponent, while most prognosticators are predicting LSU here, the Cotton could actually end up with Missouri or even South Carolina.
If Auburn wins the SEC (and South Carolina ends up in the Capital One Bowl) the Cotton would be inclined to take Missouri. But if Missouri wins the SEC (and Auburn went to the Capital One) the Cotton could jump at the chance of snagging the Gamecocks, who have never been to the Cotton.
One speculative footnote: would the possibility of pairing Bob Stoops against one of his mentors (Steve Spurrier) prompt the Cotton to revisit Oklahoma?
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30)
Win or lose Bedlam, all signs point toward the Sooners heading to San Antonio. Oklahoma has never been to the Alamo before, and the belief is that the bowl would not pass on the Sooners – especially considering the Alamo has had Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State the last three years.
The only scenario where the Alamo might not take Oklahoma? The Bears lose a nail biter to Texas after the Sooners get blasted in Bedlam, like 2011. Maybe then the Alamo would think twice about taking Baylor.
The pairing most likely would be Oregon, which would constitute one of the more compelling bowl matchups either way.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28)
The Buffalo Wild Wings is in a prime spot, because it’s likely to get one of the four teams in the top tier of the league.
The bowl will have to see what the Cotton does, but there’s a good chance the Buffalo Wild Wings ends up with Texas, which has only been to Phoenix for a bowl twice (the Fiesta in the 1996 and 2008 seasons).
This potentially would comprise another big-name matchup, with the Buffalo Wild Wings to decide between Michigan or Nebraska on the other side. If it’s Nebraska-Texas, the stadium could probably make a killing selling hate at the concession stands.
National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30)
The pick here will be Kansas State, provided the Big 12 doesn’t get two BCS bowl teams.
It is expected that the Holiday would pair the Wildcats with the loser of Stanford-Arizona State, unless for some reason the Alamo passed on Oregon, in which case the Holiday would grab the Ducks.
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27)
The Red Raiders are headed back to the Texas, assuming there's only one BCS berth for the league.
The Big Ten’s final bowl qualifier, Minnesota, would be the opponent, unless the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl loses its mind and passes on Michigan or Nebraska.
The Cowboys have the Big 12’s best record over the last five seasons. And defeated Texas three straight times in Austin.
But spurred by Boone Pickens’ dollars and Mike Gundy’s coaching, Oklahoma State is on the verge of turning that into a Big 3.
Only one obstacle remains for the Cowboys: consistently vanquishing their in-state rival.
This weekend in Stillwater, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma will stage the 108th meeting of the Bedlam rivalry. The Sooners have lost only 17 of those meetings, making Bedlam the most lopsided in-state rivalry in college football history.
“It’s a rivalry,” Cowboys guard Brandon Webb said. “But we haven’t won too many times in that rivalry.”
With opulent facilities, a substantial uptick in recruiting, assistant coaching salaries commensurate to the nation’s top programs, exciting schemes and a galvanized, expanding fan base, Oklahoma State’s rise has been rapid in Gundy’s nine years as head coach.
“Oklahoma State has come a long way in football,” Gundy said. “Our goal nine-and-a-half years ago was year-in, year-out, on a daily basis, when we went to play a football game, to have a chance to win. And not go to a stadium and the fans feel like we don’t have a chance to win. I think we’re at that point. … The program is at a different level nationally.”
Oklahoma State, however, won’t go any further nationally until it can overcome its local problem.
Under Gundy, the Cowboys are 1-7 against the Sooners, preserving the lopsidedness of the series, while also preventing Oklahoma State from climbing to the lofty perch where Oklahoma has comfortably resided since Bud Wilkinson agreed to coach the Sooners after the Second World War.
“They’re standing in our way,” said Webb, whose father Terry was an All-American guard for Oklahoma in the early 1970s and one of countless Sooners who finished their careers unblemished in Bedlam. “If they can beat us every time, it’s not good. We’ve got to beat them to get to where we want to be. It’s something we have to overcome.”
Saturday, the Cowboys have a prime opportunity to accomplish just that.
Oklahoma State is a double-digit favorite in Bedlam for the first time since odds makers began keeping track. And with a victory, the Cowboys can clinch their second Big 12 title and Fiesta Bowl appearance in three years.
To the players, the stakes are still higher.
“It’s not just another game at all,” said Cowboys defensive tackle Calvin Barnett, who grew up in Tulsa, Okla. “This is not just for the Big 12 championship, not just to finish the season out winning, not just for a BCS game. It’s about people knowing there’s not just one dominant team in Oklahoma.”
For seven decades, there was just one dominant team. From 1946-2009, Oklahoma won Bedlam by double digits a stunning 43 of 63 times.
“We’ve made it a very competitive game,” said safety Daytawion Lowe, an Oklahoma City native who chose the Cowboys over Oklahoma coming out of high school. “Back when I watched the game growing up, it used to be blowouts. The last five years, it’s been very competitive.”
“That’s what’s changing,” Webb said. “People say we used to be afraid of OU. But we’re not afraid anymore.”
After losing a wild shootout in 2010, Oklahoma State came back to destroy the Sooners 44-10 in 2011 to seize the program’s first outright conference title in 63 years.
Last year in Norman, the underdog Cowboys showed no fear and thoroughly outplayed Oklahoma for three quarters, before the Sooners stormed back to win in overtime. It was the first time in 12 years the Cowboys played Oklahoma to within 27 points in Norman.
“It’s been a give and take where people that watch it, when you went to the stadium, you didn’t know who was going to win,” Gundy said. “There was a time … where I’m not sure that was (true).”
Gundy downplayed the significance of specifically beating Oklahoma, noting the goals at Oklahoma State are now bigger and broader.
“Our goal is to win our conference,” Gundy said. “Then (let) the chips fall based on how the country feels about us. … getting into the (College Football Playoff).”
But winning the conference requires beating Oklahoma more than once a decade. The Sooners, after all, have captured eight Big 12 titles in the last 13 years. Winning the conference also requires being more than just competitive with Oklahoma, which once constituted Bedlam success in Stillwater not long ago.
“Oklahoma has a ton of tradition and has been good for a long time,” Cowboys wide receiver Charlie Moore said. “Hopefully 50 from years now, people will say the same about Oklahoma State.”
To get there, the Cowboys must first beat Oklahoma.
Starting first with Saturday.
“You can only change it one year at a time,” Barnett said. “We’re going to try and help change that this year.”
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It will be interesting to see how conference strength factors into Sunday's bowl announcements, and whether the Big 12 will be able to get a second team in the BCS.
Before the season began, the Oklahoma senior cornerback was asked to name a breakout star for the Sooners, and he responded with an unlikely candidate:
Lynn, a senior defensive back, has bounced around the secondary and battled inconsistency during his career, playing cornerback, nickelback and safety in his five seasons in Norman. He’s finally found a home at safety as a senior, a consistent presence on the Sooners defense.
Lynn’s play in OU’s 41-31 victory over Kansas State is an example of the value he’s brought to the Sooners defense in 2013. He set the tone early in the Nov. 23 victory, tackling Wildcats running back John Hubert for a 6-yard loss, then sacking quarterback Jake Waters on third down to end KSU’s first drive to help the Sooners hold a 7-0 first-quarter lead.
The Tulsa, Okla., native has turned up his play in OU's last few games, recording 11 tackles and two sacks in the Sooners’ back-to-back wins over KSU and Iowa State after their blowout loss to Baylor on Nov. 7.
As injuries have hit the rest of the defense, Lynn has played the role of experienced veteran. He leads the team with three interceptions and has 46 tackles, ranking fifth on the team. One of four returning starters from last year’s defense, Lynn’s move to safety has allowed him to use his physical mindset to his advantage while limiting the one-on-one coverage responsibilities that led to his struggles as a underclassman.
“The position Coach Mike [Stoops] has put him in has allowed him to go out and there and really play to his strong suit,” Colvin said. “Gabe has always been real physical, always liked to hit. With the position he’s at now, he’s being able to showcase that.”
Lynn had his ups-and-downs as a sophomore cornerback, becoming the scapegoat for a lot of the Sooners’ defensive struggles due in part to lofty expectations based on his status as an elite recruit in the Class of 2009. As a junior he moved to nickelback and showed remarkable improvement. As a senior, he’s proven to be more trustworthy than at any time during his career, and his leadership has been critical for a young defense.
“He has really made a conscious effort to be more of a playmaker and be a guy that you rely on,” defensive coordinator Mike Stoops said. “... The trust and the reliability has really grown all season.”
Colvin has dealt with various injuries this season, missing two games, and senior linebacker Corey Nelson was lost for the season in October. Those injuries have left Lynn as the lone senior to start all 11 games, making his leadership role even more valuable.
“He’s a guy that when Aaron [Colvin] is not in, we really look to,” Stoops said.
His mentorship role has also helped redshirt freshman cornerback Zack Sanchez hold up well during his first season as a starter. Sanchez has had moments when he’s excelled, such as his 74-yard interception return for a touchdown against KSU, and moments when he’s been picked on, such as his bad outing against Texas Tech. Through it all, Lynn, who had his own struggles against the Red Raiders as a sophomore, been there to relate with Sanchez and help him forget the past and move on to the next play.
“Gabe has been that big brother to always help me when I’m down,” Sanchez said.
Heading into OU’s Bedlam battle with Oklahoma State on Saturday, the Sooners defense will be counting on Lynn to continue his dependable play against a Cowboys offense that has beaten teams on the ground and through the air.
“It is really important to him to play well,” Stoops said. “I am really pleased with his development.”
- A breakdown of the stats and trends between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Trevor Knight has found a sounding board in his brother, an OU tight end.
- Baylor's offense has taken a detour in recent weeks, writes John Werner of the Waco Tribune. Offense gets a C- in grading out the win over TCU.
- Texas still appears to be in the picture for three bowl games going into its showdown with Baylor. Texas A&M is still ranked ahead of the Longhorns in the Dallas Morning News' latest Best in Texas poll.
- Kliff Kingsbury is not stressed by how he's handling his trio of quarterbacks entering the bowl game. Despite the defense's struggles in the loss to Texas, Will Smith was all over the place.
- Signs that TCU would struggle in 2013 became evident in August, Stefan Stevenson writes in his review of the Horned Frogs' rough season.
- In case you missed it, Iowa State fired two assistant coaches on Sunday. Paul Rhoads has a plan to get ISU back to a bowl in 2014.
- Kansas coach Charlie Weis is ready to move on and shift his focus to a senior-heavy 2014 team. Offensive line coach Tim Grunhard's tenure with KU is now over.
- Dana Holgorsen says 2014 started on Sunday and West Virgnia's recruiting needs to get better. The loss to Iowa State was a microcosm of the Mountaineers' season.
- Bill Synder says Kansas State needed to use QB Daniel Sams more against Kansas.
1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, last week 1): The Cowboys have a chance to state their case as the Big 12’s top program of the last five seasons. Beating Oklahoma to win a second Big 12 title in three years would convey a very compelling argument.
2. Baylor (10-1, 7-1 Big 12, LW 2): Baylor’s two worst offensive outputs have come in the last two weeks. Is America’s top offense running on fumes? The friendly confines of Floyd Casey Stadium -- for one final game -- should give QB Bryce Petty & Co. the refueling they need.
3. Texas (8-3, 7-1 Big 12, LW 3): For all their issues and injuries, the Longhorns remain in the mix for an outright Big 12 title and automatic BCS bowl berth heading into this final week of the season. Ironically, if Texas somehow upset Baylor, this would actually be one of Mack Brown’s better coaching performances.
4. Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2 Big 12, LW 4): Nobody before the season predicted these Sooners, with a young defense and a new quarterback, would contend for a national championship. A victory at Oklahoma State and another 10-win season would make this a solid season in Norman.
5. Kansas State (7-5, 5-4 Big 12, LW 5): Even after a 2-4 start, Kansas State still managed to finish ahead of where it was picked in the preseason for a third straight season. Going forward, the media should automatically bump K-State up two spots when filling out Big 12 preseason ballots, to account for the “Bill Snyder effect.”
6. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5 Big 12, LW 6): After another November slide, the Red Raiders are likely headed back to the Texas Bowl for the second straight season. Tech has had several memorable moments in Kliff Kingsbury’s first season. The 41-16 loss at Texas was not one of them.
7. TCU (4-8, 2-7 Big 12, LW 8): In their final game, the Horned Frogs finally showed what could have been this season. While the TCU defensive backs locked up Baylor’s receivers, senior QB Casey Pachall looked the sharpest he had in two years, even with the two pick-six interceptions. Take away those two plays and the fumble at the TCU 1-yard line, and the Frogs might have won this game going away. Yes, TCU finished with its worst season since going 1-10 in 1997. But if defensive end Devonte Fields can return to his freshman form, and TCU can figure out the answer at QB, the Frogs could be a force next year.
8. Iowa State (3-9, 2-7 Big 12, LW 9): Coach Paul Rhoads proved those who have wanted him out to be ridiculous. Despite all the tough losses, the Cyclones never quit on their coach, even when down 17 points in the fourth quarter on the road in Morgantown. With a little bit of luck, especially around the goal line, the Cyclones have the pieces to return to a bowl next year.
9. Kansas (3-9, 1-8 Big 12, LW 10): Hey, at least they beat West Virginia.
10. West Virginia (4-8, 2-7 Big 12, LW 7): The Mountaineers capped off another depressing season with an epic fourth-quarter collapse. Good thing no one was there to see it. Well, almost no one. Saturday featured the third-smallest crowd in Milan Puskar Stadium’s 33-year history, and the smallest since 1992.
And not just because the Bears reached the 10-win mark for only the third time in school history with their 41-38 victory over TCU on Saturday.
Although the Bears remained at No. 9 in the latest BCS standings, their BCS bowl hopes got a boost with losses by Wisconsin, Clemson and Fresno State. Those teams were putting themselves in position to bump the Bears out of the conversation for an at-large BCS bid before stumbling over the weekend. Now the Sugar Bowl could choose the Bears for an at-large berth.
If the Bears can knock off No. 25 Texas to finish 11-1, the Big 12 could get a second BCS berth alongside No. 6 Oklahoma State, assuming the Cowboys win against No. 17 Oklahoma on Saturday. No. 14 Northern Illinois is playing the role of the main BCS-buster to earn an at-large bid this season and will face Bowling Green in the MAC championship game on Friday.
Oklahoma State, which moved up one spot to No. 6, watched its very slim hopes of finding its way into the BCS title game drift further away when Alabama lost to Auburn. The Crimson Tide dropped from No. 1 to No. 4, meaning it won't matter how much chaos occurs on Championship Saturday because the Pokes are pretty much out of the race to earn a BCS title game berth. Quite simply, nothing has changed for the Cowboys this week, as their loss to West Virginia, which finished 4-8, remains an anchor preventing them from climbing into the conversation of the nation's top one-loss teams.
But it was a good weekend for the Big 12 overall, and Baylor in particular, with the Bears’ at-large BCS chances looking brighter than ever. Now, it’s up to Art Briles’ crew to help make its dreams come true by winning impressively against the Longhorns.
Here are our Week 14 bowl projections for the Big 12:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1): Oklahoma State vs. BCS at-large
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3): Baylor vs. SEC No. 3/4
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30): Oklahoma vs. Pac-12 No. 2
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28): Texas vs. Big Ten No. 4/5
National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30): Kansas State vs. Pac-12 No. 3
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27): Texas Tech vs. Big Ten No. 6
New Era Pinstripe Bowl (Dec. 28): None available vs. American No. 4
Heart of Dallas Bowl (Jan. 1): None available vs. Big Ten No. 7
No. 1 Florida State and No. 2 Ohio State have taken over the top spots in the BCS standings with just one week to go before the final pairing for the VIZIO BCS National Championship Game is announced.
The Seminoles and Buckeyes are the only two remaining undefeated teams from the automatic qualifying conferences and have the inside track to play for the title.
Auburn moved up to No. 3 by winning the Iron Bowl, while Alabama dropped to No. 4, barely ahead of No. 5 Missouri.
Auburn will play Missouri on Saturday in the SEC Championship Game, but both teams will likely need either Florida State or Ohio State to lose in order to move into the top two.
Florida State is ranked first in both polls used by the BCS and is also first in the computer ratings. The Seminoles need only beat No. 20 Duke in the ACC Championship Game to remain at the top of the standings.
Ohio State needed to stop Michigan on a two-point conversion in the final minute to stay unbeaten, but the Buckeyes' ugly win doesn't seem to have hurt them too badly. They are second in both polls as well as the computers.