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Keeping Up With the Conference — Championship Week edition

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It’s Hate Week Round 2, Electric Bugaloo.

Paxson Hawes / The Daily

After a long, hard-fought season, we’ve finally arrived to the grand finale of the Big 12 season. At last, two titans of college football and historical powerhouses will meet Saturday morning, where only one of these stalwarts of the game can come out on top.

That’s right people — Iowa State vs Drake is this Saturday.

Are you not excited? Well, maybe you’re more interested in that other Big 12 game. You know, the one they’re playing at the fake Cotton Bowl in Arlington.

Texas will take on Oklahoma in a rematch of the Red River Shootout Rivalry Showdown from earlier this year, which Texas won 48-45. In case you forgot how that went down, or you just enjoy Texas winning and OU losing at things, here’s the highlights.

Since that game, the two teams have taken different paths to get to Jerry World.

Texas went on to narrowly beat Baylor at home after Sam Ehlinger left the game early with an injury, but then lost two straight close games to Oklahoma State and WVU. A near loss at Texas Tech was a rallying cry for the Horns, who used that game to propel them to three straight victories in spite of injuries and mounting pressure on the team to win out to make the Big 12 Championship Game. They did, and they now sit at 9-3, their best record since going 12-0 Colt’s final season in 2009.

Oklahoma also overcome some adversity, but more of the self-inflicted kind. The Sooners immediately fired Defensive Coordinator Mike Stoops following the loss to Texas. This move didn’t help out OU in the short-run, as the Sooners allowed an average of 38 points per game to in-conference opponents in a conference that includes schools such as Kansas State and TCU. Their season culminated in a few close victories that pushed the limits of the scoreboard — a 48-47 victory over Okie State and a shootout win over WVU 59-56.

And now, here we both are.

Yeah, this isn’t the same as the Red River Showdown. There’s no Golden Hat on the line. This game isn’t played in the fair grounds. And Texas is probably locked into the Sugar Bowl, win or lose.

But it’s Texas vs Oklahoma. It’s the greatest rivalry in college football. It’s 2-0 against Oklahoma on the line, with a chance to take home some hardware we haven’t seen since 2009.

We can spoil Oklahoma’s season and hopes of a College Football Playoff. We can send them to the damn Alamo Bowl and watch Mike Leach’s team run circles around them. We can see Kyler Murray be a sore loser twice in one year. If there’s anything that feels as good as seeing Texas win, a close second is seeing Oklahoma lose. Why not both?

If you aren’t pumped for this game, I’m sure there’s a school a few hours east of here that would love to have you celebrate it’s dubious eight-overtime win and maybe even help investigate a certain post-game punch or two.

Make no mistake — this is not the Red River Showdown. It’s more than that.

It’s the Big 12 Championship.

BIG 12 STANDINGS (THROUGH WEEK 13)

  1. (5) Oklahoma (8-1) (10-1)
  2. (14) Texas (7-2) (9-3)
  3. (23) Iowa State (6-3) (7-4)
  4. (16) West Virginia (6-3) (8-3)
  5. TCU (4-5) (6-6)
  6. Baylor (4-5) (6-6)
  7. Kansas State (3-6) (5-7)
  8. Texas Tech (3-6) (5-7)
  9. Oklahoma State (3-6) (6-6)
  10. Kansas (1-8) (3-9)
The final trend line shows how each team stacks up to finish the season.

BIG 12 BREAKDOWN

(5) Oklahoma

Week 13: W at (13) West Virginia, 59-56

Highlight: The whole damn game was a highlight reel, but Kyler Murray’s throw to CeeDee Lamb late in the fourth quarter iced the game and the Big 12 Championship appearance for the Sooners.

Trending: NEUTRAL. Oklahoma will take the Conference’s best offense and the conference’s worst defense to Arlington to face the Longhorns. If Texas isn’t able to slow down the Sooners, they’re in trouble. Nobody can keep up with this offense.

SBN Projected Bowl Game: College Football Playoff - Cotton Bowl // vs (1) Alabama

(23) Iowa State

Week 13: W vs Kansas State, 42-38

Highlight: RB David Montgomery had his best game of the season, as he ran for 149 yards and 3 TD’s on just 19 carries. This run for an 18 yard touchdown capped off a furious Cyclone comeback that erased a 17-point, fourth-quarter deficit.

Trending: NEUTRAL. It took an incredible fourth-quarter comeback, but Iowa State got the win to hold their spot at third place in the conference. This season cemented Iowa State’s place as a threat to the Big 12 — a win versus Texas the week before would have put ISU in the conference championship game. Coach Matt Campbell seems to be one of the best young, on-the-rise coaches out there.

SBN Projected Bowl Game: Camping World Bowl // vs (20) Syracuse

(16) West Virginia

Week 13: L vs (6) Oklahoma, 56-59

Highlight: The scoring was fast and often in this one, with a combined score of 115 points. There’s plenty of highlights to choose from, but here’s the longest and quickest score of the game — a 75 yard pass from Will Grier to Gary Jennings Jr. late in the third quarter.

Trending: DOWN. West Virginia only needed to win one of their final two games to clinch a spot in the Big 12 Championship, and were even in striking range of the College Football Playoff. Instead, they lost both, and will likely head to either the Alamo Bowl or Camping World Bowl. Not a good way to finish the year, to say the least.

SBN Projected Bowl Game: Alamo Bowl // vs (13) Washington State

TCU

Week 13: W vs Oklahoma State, 31-24

Highlight: It was the Jalen Reagor show in Fort Worth, as the WR did it all for TCU. Reagor totaled eight receptions for 91 yards and a TD, but also added five carries for 121 yards and a score on the ground. Most of those yards came on this long 83 yard touchdown run on their first offensive snap of the second half.

Trending: UP. TCU fought their way into a bowl game this year. After starting off the season 3-5, TCU went 3-1 the rest of the way to earn a bowl game at 6-6. They will most likely take their staunch defense into the Texas Bowl.

SBN Projected Bowl Game: Texas Bowl // vs Houston

Baylor

Week 13: W at Texas Tech, 35-24

Highlight: QB Charlie Brewer threw all over the Red Raiders defense, amassing 308 yards on just a 22/30 attempts. He also threw for three touchdowns — including this long score to Tyquan Thornton in the second quarter.

Trending: UP. In the battle for bowl eligibility, Baylor won out over the struggling Texas Tech Red Raiders. Baylor has played to expectations this year, but the 6-6 mark is much improved over last year’s 1-11. The Bears will look for a winning season in their bowl game — likely the Cheez-It bowl in Phoenix.

SBN Projected Bowl Game: Cheez-It Bowl // vs Stanford

Kansas State

Week 13: L at Iowa State, 38-42

Highlight: QB Skylar Thompson had his best passing game of the year, with a 18/27 183 yards and three touchdown stat line. Two of those scores went to WR Isaiah Zuber, who hauled in this pretty grab as part of a seven-catch and 65-yard performance.

Trending: NEUTRAL. A strong game against Iowa State wasn’t enough for K-State to vault into bowl contention, as their season ends in Ames. Now, all eyes shift towards Bill Snyder and his looming decision whether to return or retire from coaching.

Eliminated from Bowl contention

Texas Tech

Week 13: L vs Baylor, 24-35

Highlight: Texas Tech, now on their third QB of the season, had to rely on McLane Carter to save their bowl hopes. Carter wasn’t great in the game, throwing for two scores and two picks and just 247 yards, but he got off to a fast start with a 54 yard pass to WR Ja’Deion High to open scoring.

Trending: DOWN. After starting the season 5-2, Texas Tech lost their last five games, missing a bowl berth. This slide cost Kliff Kingsbury his job, and Texas Tech looks to have already found their replacement in Utah State’s Matt Wells.

Eliminated from Bowl contention

Oklahoma State

Week 13: L at TCU, 24-31

Highlight: It was a pretty pedestrian day for Oklahoma State, as no one really blew up the box score against a good TCU defense. QB Taylor Cornelius had a terrible game throwing the ball, going 17/40 for 181 yards and throwing two INTs.

Trending: DOWN. A weird season for Oklahoma State sees them finish at 6-6. Wildly inconsistent, this OSU team beat both WVU and Texas, and lost to Oklahoma on a failed two-point conversion attempt. But a 3-6 conference record means that OSU finishes ninth in the Big 12. They project to play fellow inconsistent disappointment Auburn in the Liberty Bowl.

SBN Projected Bowl Game: Liberty Bowl // vs Auburn

Kansas

Week 13: L vs (14) Texas, 17-24

Highlight: RB Pooka Williams Jr. ran for over 100 yards, but the play of the game was this TD throw from QB Peyton Bender to WR Daylon Charlot for a 31-yard score.

Trending: NEUTRAL. The Jayhawks showed fight in their loss, coming back from down 24-0 to make it tight for the Longhorns before ultimately falling 24-17. Kansas will look towards next year with new head coach Les Miles, who becomes the only active Big 12 coach with a National Championship.

Eliminated from Bowl contention

Out-of-conference observations

Maryland (5-7)

Week 13: L vs Ohio State, 51-52

Trending: DOWN

Eliminated from Bowl contention

Tulsa (3-9)

Week 13: L at Navy, 29-37

Trending: UP

Eliminated from Bowl contention

USC (5-7)

Week 13: L at UCLA, 27-34

Trending: NEUTRAL

Eliminated from Bowl contention

STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE

Texas strength of schedule — 70-72 (.493)

Conference strength of schedule — 57-49 (.538)

WHO TO WATCH

Here’s the short list of games this week that Texas fans should tune into: (ESPN FPI projected winner in BOLD, % chance to win in brackets)

(17) Utah vs (11) Washington [57.2%] — (7:00 PM CT, FOX)*

Memphis at (8) UCF [76.6%] — (2:30 PM CT, ABC)

(1) Alabama [63.7%] vs (4) Georgia — (3:00 PM CT, CBS)**

(21) Northwestern vs (6) Ohio State [84.2%] — (7:00 PM CT, FOX)***

*Game is played on Friday, November 30 at Levi’s Stadium (Santa Clara, CA)

**Game is played at Mercedes-Benz Stadium (Atlanta, GA)

***Game is played at Lucas Oil Stadium (Indianapolis, IN)

LOOK AHEAD

Conference Championship Week Schedule (ESPN FPI projected winner in BOLD, % chance to win in brackets)

(14) Texas vs (5) Oklahoma [72.9%]*

Drake at (23) Iowa State [99.2%]

*Game is played in Arlington, TX

PARTING SHOT