From 1996 through 2010, division-winning coaches would arrive in Kansas City, Arlington or Irving, Texas, Houston, San Antonio or St. Louis and discuss the value of the Big 12 championship game as their teams were preparing to meet.
By BLAIR KERKHOFF
The Kansas City Star
My take: Any occasion that brought two (usually) great teams and 70,000 fans together was a worthy endeavor, no matter if the favorite lost and got knocked out of the national championship game picture, which happened four times: Nebraska (1996), Kansas State (1998), Texas (2001) and Missouri (2007).
When the Big 12 was reduced to 10 teams and the title game was eliminated, the fear was the league would get lost on the championship game weekend. The Big 12 was a pioneer with the title game. Starting in 2011, it didn’t have one and the other major conferences did.
But give the Big 12 major scheduling props.
For the third straight year, it has arranged games that directly impact the league championship on the final weekend.
“The Big 12 will be highlighted this weekend and come out with a champion just like everybody else,” Texas coach Mack Brown said.
There are two games this weekend, and all four teams have a chance at a piece of the title. Oklahoma State plays host to Oklahoma at 11 a.m., and the Longhorns visit Baylor at 2:30 p.m. in the final game at Floyd Casey Stadium in Waco.
Oklahoma State, Baylor and Texas stand 7-1. Oklahoma is 6-2. The Pokes are in the driver’s seat, and they’d clinch the league’s Fiesta Bowl berth with a victory. But if the Sooners pull the upset, the Texas-Baylor winner goes to the Fiesta Bowl.
Also, if Baylor doesn’t go to the Fiesta but beats Texas, the Bears remain in the running for a Sugar Bowl berth as an at-large BCS team. It was big for Baylor that Clemson, Wisconsin and Fresno State —all ahead of the Bears in a BCS pecking order — lost last weekend.
This marks the third straight year the season-ending Bedlam rivalry in Oklahoma has factored into to the championship, and last year, Kansas State’s final weekend victory over Texas, clinched the league title and Fiesta Bowl for the Wildcats.
What does the Big 12 have in store for 2014? The final weekend schedule finds Oklahoma State at Oklahoma, Iowa State at TCU and Kansas State at Baylor.
Ranking the Big 12
|Team (previous rank)||Saturday’s opponent||Comment|
|1. Oklahoma State (1)||Oklahoma||Fiesta Bowl insider|
|2. Baylor (2)||Texas||Final game at Floyd Casey a big one|
|3. Oklahoma (3)||at Oklahoma State||Trevor Knight back at the helm|
|4. Texas (4)||at Baylor||Who thought Horns here after BYU, Ole Miss?|
|5. Kansas State (5)||Off until bowl game||Another winning season|
|6. Texas Tech (6)||Off until bowl game||7-0, then 0-5|
|7. TCU (7)||Season over||Fell off after promising start|
|8. Iowa State (9)||Season over||Nice finish for Cyclones|
|9. West Virginia (8)||Season over||Terrible loss to end season|
|10. Kansas (10)||Season over||Only place to go is up|
Big 12 bowl projections
• Fiesta: Oklahoma State vs. Northern Illinois
• Cotton: Baylor vs. Texas A&M
• Alamo: Oklahoma vs. Oregon
• Buffalo Wild Wings: Texas vs. Nebraska
• Holiday: Kansas State vs. Arizona State
• Texas: Texas Tech vs. Michigan
To reach Blair Kerkhoff, call 816-234-4730 or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him at twitter.com/BlairKerkhoff.