Monday, November 26, 2012
What we learned in the Big 12: Week 13
By David Ubben
Here's what I learned over the past few days in the Big 12:
The Big 12 title will once again be decided during Championship Week. The Big 12 is in its second season without a championship game, but a dramatic comeback by Oklahoma will provide some intrigue during the season's final weekend, with the conference title in the balance. Kansas State must beat Texas to clinch the automatic BCS bid and the Big 12 title. An Oklahoma victory at TCU would clinch it a share of the title and a possible BCS at-large bid. If either team loses, the other can win the league outright. Should be fun.
Texas still has a ways to go to rescale the Big 12 totem pole. It's weird how one loss can change oh so much. Texas was still in the Big 12 title hunt, still in position to steal a BCS at-large bid or even the Big 12's automatic BCS bid if the ball bounced its way in the season's final two weeks. Then it got completely outplayed by TCU on its home turf and suddenly, the sky is falling in Austin again. It's not really, of course, but it certainly feels like it. With a loss to K-State next week, the Longhorns could fall all the way back to fifth in the Big 12 and be just 8-4. That's hardly an improvement from last year's 8-5 campaign, and this year's Longhorns had big hopes. Texas should be suited for a 2013 Big 12 title run, but it still needs better play from David Ash, who's been benched twice in the second half of the season.
Saturday's OT victory by Blake Bell (10) and Oklahoma made for yet another exciting Bedlam game.
The Big 12 is by far the deepest conference in college football. Two teams got opportunities over the long weekend and took advantage. West Virginia knocked off Iowa State in a toss-up game Friday, and Baylor engineered a comeback on Saturday on a neutral field against Texas Tech; both reached bowl eligibility. That gives the Big 12 nine bowl-eligible teams. That's 90 percent of the league, y'all. It'd be tough to look that up, but I have to assume no other conference in the history of college football has done that.
Bedlam is slowly becoming a better rivalry than Red River. Texas' recent slide is really taking a toll on this rivalry, and Oklahoma's rough 2009 season was no help, either. Red River hasn't truly had a huge role in deciding the Big 12 title race since all the way back to 2008. Bedlam has done exactly that in each of the past three seasons. Both Oklahoma and Oklahoma State played for the Big 12 title in 2010 and 2011, and this year's game still had Big 12 relevance. Texas should be back up next season, but the Longhorns have a whole lot to prove, and the fact that two of the past three Bedlams have been dramatic thrillers helps, too.
The Big 12 is the most entertaining conference in college football. What an edge-of-your-seat weekend. Texas kicked things off by nearly erasing a two-touchdown deficit in the final five minutes, but TCU picked off Case McCoy to seal the game. West Virginia used a late 75-yard touchdown to take the lead and secure a narrow win. Then both Saturday games went to overtime after a missed field goal at the gun between Texas Tech and Baylor and a touchdown by Blake Bell in Bedlam. Both of those games were tied at 45 in regulation. Criticize the defenses if you must -- they've left a lot to be desired this year. Still, the offensive fireworks make the league so much fun to watch every single week.