The Big 12 is going out with a bang.
On Saturday, while most major conferences will hold made-for-national-TV championship games, the Big 12 will hold two. Oklahoma will head to Oklahoma State at 11 a.m. in a must-see rivalry game. Then Texas will face Baylor at 2:30 p.m. in a game that could decide Mack Brown’s future. By the end of the day, Oklahoma State, Baylor or Texas could be crowned outright league champion. Or two could share the title.
Bottom line: The final day of the regular season will be filled with drama.
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On Monday, Texas quarterback Case McCoy admitted to reporters that, though it killed him to say so, he hopes rival Oklahoma plays well against Oklahoma State.
“All the marbles are on the table,” McCoy said. “This will determine if our season is a success.”
Credit the Big 12 executives in charge of football scheduling for that. Once again, they have proven they know what they’re doing. Last year, K-State and Texas squared off in a December game that decided the conference title. The year before that, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State met in a winner-take-all finale.
When the Big 12 dropped to 10 teams, many argued that the loss of a conference championship game would weaken the league. While other conferences were in the spotlight during championship week, some thought the Big 12 would be an afterthought. But that hasn’t been the case.
The Big 12 has found a way to keep the stakes high in December.
Briles vs. Patterson
No season is truly complete until opposing coaches get into a public argument. Maybe that’s why TCU coach Gary Patterson was so displeased with Baylor coach Art Briles following their game on Saturday.
When the two met for a postgame handshake, cameras caught Patterson angrily mumbling under his breath and Briles urging him to leave his complaints “on the field.”
The dispute stemmed from a targeting call on Baylor defensive back Ahmad Dixon on TCU quarterback/receiver Trevone Boykin. Bears coaches didn’t agree with the penalty, and patted Dixon on the back as he exited the field. Dixon was ultimately ejected, and he sarcastically blew kisses to the crowd on his way to the locker room.
Patterson thought Baylor should have taken the incident more seriously, and inferred that Briles showed a lack of class throughout the game.
The incident seemed odd and unnecessary. Shouldn’t Patterson have cared more about the game at hand than how the Baylor sideline reacted to a penalty?
On Monday, Briles did his best to downplay the situation.
“Growing up in west Texas,” Briles said, “I was taught if you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all.”
Does the ending of one season impact the beginning of another season?
We are about to find out.
In the span of two games, West Virginia went from expecting a bowl invitation to losing to Kansas and Iowa State. In that same time frame, Iowa State went from hapless to a winning streak.
The Mountaineers head into next season with more questions than answers. The Cyclones finished off a down season on an upswing. They stayed positive through a lengthy losing streak and ended the year with back-to-back victories. That will give Iowa State fans something to look forward to during the offseason.
With one week remaining in the regular season, here is a guess at where each bowl-eligible team in the Big 12 will end up this postseason.
Fiesta Bowl: Oklahoma State will likely face Northern Illinois in a dud BCS bowl matchup.
Cotton Bowl: Baylor needs to beat Texas first, but the Bears would be a perfect fit for the Cotton Bowl.
Alamo Bowl: Win or lose, Oklahoma would bring a good crowd with it to San Antonio.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Texas will land in the Fiesta Bowl or Cotton Bowl if it beats Baylor. If not, an appealing matchup with Nebraska could be the consolation prize.
Holiday Bowl: The last time K-State won a bowl game, it beat Arizona State in San Diego. That rematch is possible.
Texas Bowl: Texas Tech, and the Texas Bowl, appear destined for one another.
If two Big 12 teams qualify for a BCS bowl, the Texas Bowl would have to look elsewhere for a team to play a Big Ten opponent.
John Hubert: The bigger the workload the better he plays. K-State’s senior running back rushed for 220 yards and a touchdown on 30 carries against Kansas.
Paul Rhoads: A 17-point comeback in the fourth quarter of the final game of a miserable ISU season proves he can always motive his players.
Grant Rohach: The Iowa State quarterback threw for 331 yards and four touchdowns against West Virginia.
Texas running backs: Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron both topped 100 yards against Texas Tech.
Gary Patterson: Ended a disappointing season by going off an on opposing coach.
Kliff Kingsbury: The schedule was back-loaded, but Texas Tech’s first-year coach rarely had his team ready to compete after a 7-0 start.
West Virginia: Mountaineers fans have to be wondering if the move to the Big 12 was worth it.
Ahmad Dixon: Getting ejected from a game isn’t fun, but blowing kisses to fans after an ilegal hit is the opposite of class.
Ranking this week’s games
Must see: Texas at Baylor, Oklahoma at Oklahoma State.
Big 12 football rankings
1. Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1): A Bedlam win would make this a magical season for the Cowboys.
2. Baylor (10-1, 7-1): Bears may have peaked. Injuries have hurt in back-to-back games.
3. Texas (8-3, 7-1): Without those losses to BYU and Mississippi, Texas has had a quality season.
4. Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2): Sooners can cause chaos in the conference standings with a win over Oklahoma State.
5. Kansas State (7-5, 5-4): Not Bill Snyder’s finest team, but he got the most out of a group that started 2-4.
6. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5): Kliff Kingsbury needs a bowl win to regain some momentum.
7. TCU (4-8, 2-7): What a wasted season for the Horned Frogs. They had the talent to win 10 games.
8. Iowa State (3-9, 2-7): A great finish to an awful season for the Cyclones. Paul Rhoads never let his players quit.
9. West Virginia (4-8, 2-7): How does the same team that beat Oklahoma State lose to Kansas and Iowa State?
10. Kansas (3-9, 1-8): Drops plagued the Jayhawks all season. They won’t improve until they find capable receivers.