With three teams carrying a single conference loss apiece into judgment day this weekend, No. 25 Texas and No. 8 Baylor (10-1, 7-1 in the Big 12) may or may not still have a Big 12 title to play for by Saturday afternoon's 2:30pm kickoff in Waco.
Neither controls their own destiny, and both need a win and a Sooner upset over Oklahoma State to earn the Big 12 crown and a sequential invitation to a BCS bowl. That game in Stillwater starts at 11am and could be over before Mack Brown and Baylor's Art Briles strap on their headsets. Thus, the out-of-town scoreboard inside Baylor's 63-year-old Floyd Casey Stadium – here hosting its final game – will have the crowd buzzing for better or worse early on.
No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1 in the Big 12) owns tiebreakers over Texas and Baylor from drubbings incurred in successive weeks last month. The hot-handed Cowboys have won seven straight, all in conference, and can seize the Big 12 title with a win, and, in so doing so, steal the Texas/Baylor game's thunder before it even starts to storm. Texas would then be gunning for the better of four potential bowl games.
Not that the Longhorns should be looking past the Bears before Saturday. Baylor's Bryce Petty is the nation's 8th-rated passer and easily the best quarterback Texas has faced all season. Most astonishing, perhaps, isn't his captaincy of the nation's top offense (averaging 55.4 points per game), nor his 28 touchdown passes, but that he's only chucked two interceptions all year.
Fortunately, the Longhorns are battle-tested after arresting Texas Tech's prolific offense for their best defensive performance of 2013 – a schematic masterpiece by DC Greg Robinson. The lone negative in a sea of positives, however, was that starting linebacker Steve Edmond was lost for the season with a lacerated liver.
The Bears, meanwhile, were a certified juggernaut until being trampled at Oklahoma State on Nov. 23. Petty's offense was again out of synch last week at TCU, but two defensive touchdowns bailed them out.
Baylor is vulnerable, Case McCoy plays best under pressure, and Texas has the Bears in their sweet spot: away from DKR, where the Longhorns are 3-4 against Top 10 teams.