Sunday, September 30, 2012

The Lazarus-Like Resurrection of Big 12

About two years ago, the Big 12 was on its death bed.

The conference was on the operating table, waiting for a priest to read its last rites and a coroner to dissect its cause of death. Gored by a a Longhorn, maybe. Excessive bleeding of (Big) Red blood cells, another possibility.

But look at the Big 12 now. It's not only alive and well, it's the "it" conference, the talk of the college football world. More than half of its teams (six) are ranked in the top 20 of the latest simulated BCS standings. Its two new acquisitions are a combined 8-0 and one of them boasts the undisputed frontrunner for this year's Heisman Trophy.

If it weren't for an inexplicably late collapse by Oklahoma State, the Big 12 would've had a representative in last year's BCS title game. This year, five teams are currently unbeaten as the conference season gets under way to decide who'll be left standing and possibly finally sending someone to challenge Alabama.

To be sure, it will be a daunting task for whomever emerges as the Big 12 champion. For one, the Big 12 is now the only AQ conference to play a true round-robin schedule with nine conference games. There will be at most one undefeated team but more likely, none. And for another, because the misnomered Big 12 has only 10 teams and no conference championship game, a one-loss conference champion is unlikely to get a reprieve, as it was shown last year with the Cowboys.

Of the five unbeaten Big 12 teams - plus Oklahoma, which already lost to Kansas State - the team with the best potential to get to the national championship game is West Virginia, with Heisman favorite Geno Smith having just completed an otherworldly performance.


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