Reasonable minds can disagree on the topic of college football’s best conference.
Whether you choose the SEC and its six top 10 teams, the Pac-12 and its four top 20 teams or the Big 12 and its four ranked teams, you are choosing a quality league.
But there is little debate when it comes to college football’s deepest conference.
That honor belongs to the Big 12. Nine of its 10 teams are bowl-eligible — only Kansas will stay home during bowl season. No other league can match that.
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“I thought the Big 12 would be the deepest conference in the country,” Iowa State coach Paul Rhoads said, “and it’s shown without a doubt that it is.”
K-State and Oklahoma might both end up in BCS bowls, Texas, Oklahoma State and TCU could all win eight games and Texas Tech, Baylor, Iowa State and West Virginia are all .500 or better.
With every team facing a nine-game conference schedule, teams faced a challenge almost every week.
“I would say it is probably as strong and there is probably as much parity as I have seen,” Kansas State football coach Snyder said. “Anybody in this league is capable of winning against anybody else, which seems to reflect the talent and capabilities of each team.”
Now, the Big 12 isn’t the only conference to produce nine bowl-eligible teams. The SEC also accomplished the feat, but it has 14 members and plays an eight-game league schedule. Its teams benefited from four nonconference games while Big 12 teams got three.
Reaching the six-win minimum is difficult in the Big 12, but nine of its teams managed to get there. Baylor knocked off then No. 1 K-State and Texas Tech in consecutive games to lock up another bowl trip. Iowa State won three conference games.
That’s what happens in a deep conference.
“There are a lot of good football teams,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “There is great parity.”
For the second straight year the Big 12 will get its wish. The conference no longer plays a championship game on the first week of December, but it is once again providing some entertaining games. Last year, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State played in the season-finale with the conference title on the line. This season, K-State takes on Texas and Oklahoma faces TCU with the league title still up for grabs. Both teams are atop the conference standings at 7-1. K-State can wrap up a berth in the Fiesta Bowl and a Big 12 championship with a win. Oklahoma can share a league title with a victory, but will need a K-State loss to secure an automatic BCS invite.
Kansas coach Charlie Weis was asked about Notre Dame’s success this season. Weis recruited several of Notre Dame’s players when he was the coach there, but tried to deflect the question as best he could.
“The most important thing for me is to make sure that I stay low profile and don’t try to take accolades for their success,” Weis said. “I think it’s real easy for a guy in my position to sit there and say, ‘Yeah, they’re all my kids they’re winning with,’ or be jealous and bitter and all that other stuff.”
KU will end its disappointing season on Saturday at West Virginia.
Oddly, Mountaineers’ coach Dana Holgorsen had some interesting words for Weis during the Big 12 teleconference on Monday. He said West Virginia would have “a schematic advantage” over Kansas. Weis used to say the same when he was at Notre Dame.
Look out OU
If Kent State wins the MAC championship game, it could knock Oklahoma out of a BCS bowl. The Golden Flashes sit 17th in the latest BCS standings. If they climb into the top 16 and are ranked ahead of a major-conference champion, they earn a spot in a BCS bowl. The Big East doesn’t currently have a team in the top 25 of the BCS standings. That means the Sooners will be rooting for Northern Illinois on Friday.
Ash out, McCoy in
Texas coach Mack Brown said Case McCoy will start in place of David Ash against Kansas State on Saturday. Ash is questionable for the game after sustaining rib injuries against TCU. McCoy, a junior quarterback, has played in seven games this year and led the Longhorns to a comeback victory at Texas earlier this season.
West Virginia WR/returner Tavon Austin: The best multi-purpose player in the league.
Oklahoma QB Blake Bell: Scored a four-yard touchdown with the season on the line against Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma QB Landry Jones: His arm stood up to a 71-attempt game.
Baylor RB Lache Seastrunk: Another 100-yard rushing game, another Baylor win.
Texas QB David Ash: The hot-and-cold quarterback was at his coldest against TCU.
Texas Tech defense: Once the best statistical unit in the Big 12. Now it can’t stop anyone.
Texas Tech QB Seth Doege: Turnovers negate his positives.
Kansas: The only team in the league not going to a bowl.
What to watch
Must-see games: Texas at Kansas State, Oklahoma at TCU.
Worth watching: Oklahoma State at Baylor.
Avert your eyes: Kansas at West Virginia.
Big 12 power rankings
1. Kansas State (10-1, 7-1): With a good enough game, Collin Klein can still win Heisman.
2. Oklahoma (9-2, 7-1): Two home losses kept OU out of national title hunt.
3. Texas (8-3, 5-3): New Thanksgiving Day tradition off to a poor start.
4. Oklahoma State (7-4, 5-3): Cowboys will be dangerous in bowl game.
5. TCU (7-4, 4-4): Give Gary Patterson a week to prepare and Frogs deliver.
6. Baylor (6-5, 3-5): Bears are playing their best late.
7. Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5): Red Raiders peaked mid-season.
8. West Virginia (6-5, 3-5): Mountaineers may have finally figured things out.
9. Iowa State (6-6, 3-6 ): Cyclones always near .500.
10. Kansas (1-10, 0-8): Disappointing season is almost over.