Big 12

November 29, 2011

Kellis Robinett's Big 12 Report (Nov. 29)

Even though the Big 12 championship game is no more, the conference will end the football regular season with a bang this weekend.

Even though the Big 12 championship game is no more, the conference will end the football regular season with a bang this weekend.

Instead of one game determining who wins the league title, Big 12 fans will be blessed with two.

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (7 p.m.) is the main event. Their annual Bedlam matchup will decide who earns the Big 12's automatic berth to a BCS bowl. If the Sooners win, they will head to the Fiesta Bowl. If the Cowboys win, they will hold out hope for a spot in the BCS title game.

Kansas State's game against Iowa State will be the undercard worth watching. Though the Wildcats lost to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in head-to-head meetings, they can claim a three-way share for the Big 12 championship with a win and an Oklahoma State loss. They can also keep hope alive of an at-large invite to a BCS bowl.

"If it played out that everybody was (10)-2, I think it would be a very positive thing for the players in our program," K-State coach Bill Snyder said. "They would appreciate that. I would."

But not everyone thinks a three-way tie would be split evenly. Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said the OU-OSU winner should be treated like it won a conference championship game.

OSU (10-1, 7-1 Big 12) can finish atop the Big 12 standings all alone with a win. Considering all three teams played the same conference schedule, Stoops thinks only one team should get a trophy.

"We got one true champion, since everybody is playing each other," Stoops said. "That's how I've always looked at it.... You can determine who the champion is. If there are two people, three people tied for it, who beat who?"

Stoops has a point, but would he say the same thing if he was in K-State's position?

Bowl Projections

Six of the Big 12's eight bowl-eligible teams play Saturday, so it's tough to predict where all will play in bowls. But those eight seem to be grouping themselves into categories.

Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and K-State are all contenders for BCS bowls. The Sooners and Cowboys can clinch a BCS bid with a win Saturday. K-State needs a win over Iowa State and help from all over. All three are also candidates for the Cotton Bowl, with K- State the most likely participant.

After that, the winner of Saturday's Texas-Baylor game will have the inside track on the Alamo Bowl, though OU or K-State could fall to San Antonio with losses. The Texas-Baylor loser can look to the Insight or Holiday bowls for an invitation.

Iowa State can become the next most desirable bowl team with a win over K-State, but will have to compete with Missouri and Texas A&M for a Big 12-affiliated bowl with a loss. Some believe the Cyclones would receive preferential treatment, because the Aggies and Tigers are headed to the SEC.

The Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston and the Pinstripe Bowl round out the league's seven bowls. If only one Big 12 team advances to the BCS, one Big 12 team will be left to find an at-large berth to another bowl.

Too early?

Several Big 12 coaches said Monday it was unfortunate to see Kansas fire Turner Gill after two seasons. Missouri coach Gary Pinkel said he's glad athletic director Mike Alden believed in him and gave him time to help the Tigers' program grow. To him, two years is nowhere near enough time to rebuild a struggling program.

He has a point, and in most cases two years is not a big enough sample size. But there are exceptions to every rule, and Gill's record put him into that category. He went 5-19 at Kansas, with one conference win, a loss to a FCS opponent and far too many blowout losses.

Benefit of the doubt

Two Big 12 coaches who can head into the 2012 football season feeling safe about their jobs are Tommy Tuberville and Mike Sherman. Both were placed on the hot seat as the season came to a close, but will be retained.

Tuberville seemed to have everything clicking at Texas Tech a few weeks ago when he guided the Red Raiders to a win at Oklahoma and needed just one more victory to reach bowl eligibility. But then they fell flat in a lopsided defeat to Iowa State and ended the year on a five-game losing streak. It was a terrible finish for Tuberville, but he will be helped by a strong recruiting class.

Sherman has to feel less confident. Second-half collapses prevented Texas A&M from building on the breakthrough season it had a year ago, and heads to the SEC at 6-6. Quite the disappointing season considering the Aggies opened the year in the top 10 and lost their last scheduled game against Texas in heartbreaking fashion. Things will only get tougher in the SEC West. Is Sherman ready for the transition?

This week's games

Must-see: Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Texas at Baylor

Worth watching: Iowa State at Kansas State

Power Rankings

1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1)

Outside shot of making BCS title game

2. Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2)

Can clinch Fiesta Bowl with Bedlam win

3. Kansas State (9-2, 6-2)

Hoping for a three-way tie

4. Baylor (8-3, 5-3)

Will Griffin be invited to Heisman ceremony?

5. Texas (7-4, 4-4)

Better team with McCoy at quarterback

6. Missouri (7-5, 5-4)

Finished season strong

7. Iowa State (6-5, 3-5)

Paul Rhoads has overachieved in Ames

8. Texas A&M (6-6, 4-5)

Ended Big 12 play with most heartbreaking of losses

9. Texas Tech (5-7, 2-7)

The collapse is finally over

10. Kansas (2-9, 0-9)

Nowhere to go but up

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