The Big 12 South Ain't Nothing to Mess With
Texas Tech, Texas, and Oklahoma are all ranked in the Top 5 and have a shot at the National Championship
By Justin Sanders,
3:59PM, Fri. Nov. 21, 2008
The Big 12 South is currently the toughest conference in college football, boasting three teams ranked in the Top 5 – Texas Tech, Texas, and Oklahoma – all having a shot at winning the National Championship. The question is: Which of these teams will survive their tenacious conference schedule and come out on top? Oklahoma was upset by Texas in the Cotton Bowl, Texas was upset by Texas Tech in Lubbock, and now Tech has to travel to Oklahoma on Saturday to face a red-hot Sooners team that many are predicting to win, even though Tech is ranked higher. It is a vicious cycle, but I think it is safe to say that whoever wins the Big 12 South will be the odds-on favorite to run the table and take home the National Championship. With that said, all that’s left now is to figure out which team will be the last one standing.
Texas started all this trouble when they decided that rebuilding years were for losers like the University of Michigan and opened up the season by destroying anyone unlucky enough to be in their path. It took a while for the UT alumni to believe that the Horns were legit, but everything changed when Texas beat No. 1 ranked Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl. The Sooners had the Horns down by 10 points twice in the first half alone, but like a pimple on picture day, the Horns just refused to go away. In what was probably one of the gutsiest performances in Texas’ season, the Horns prevailed 45-35, and took over the No. 1 ranking in the country. The victory was the first of what would be four games against ranked opponents that included Missouri, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech, and had it not been for a last-second Texas Tech touchdown by Michael Crabtree, the Longhorns would be cruising to another Big 12 Championship game. With one loss on their record, Texas is still a threat and need only for Oklahoma to beat Texas Tech this Saturday to put them right back in the race for the National Championship.
Speaking of Texas Tech, of all the teams in the Big 12 South with hopes of a National Championship, they are the only team that controls their destiny. At No. 2 in the BCS standings, Tech needs only to win the rest of their games and they will be guaranteed to play in the title game. That’s it, no big deal right? Of course in order to run the table they will have to beat Oklahoma in Norman, a feat that has only been accomplished two times in 61 tries during Bob Stoops’ career. Luckily for Tech, defying the odds has become somewhat of a routine this season. No one expected them to beat Kansas, Texas, or Oklahoma State, and yet, here they are sitting in the driver’s seat with an unblemished record at 10-0. A win in Norman on Saturday would not only quiet their critics – at least for another week – it would also put them one step closer to a perfect season and an unheralded National Championship.
Oklahoma was a preseason favorite to not only win the Big 12, but were also picked by some experts (obviously not from Texas) to win it all this year. The Sooners did little to disappoint early in the season and had it not been for a determined Texas team coming back to beat them in the Cotton Bowl, OU would be well on the way to their second sickening National Championship under Bob Stoops. Alas, the Longhorns did beat the Sooners, but rather than bury their heads in the sand, the Sooners decided to take their wrath out on the opposition by reeling off four straight victories in which they scored an average of 58 points. The Sooners are rolling and a victory over Texas Tech on Saturday would unfortunately put them right back in the race for the National Championship.
Regardless of all the hype that has been built up over this weekend’s Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma matchup, whoever comes out on top will still have to win at least one more game before they’re anointed Big 12 South Champion. Oklahoma has to face the 12th ranked Oklahoma State Cowboys in Stillwater, Okla.; Texas Tech must find a way to stay motivated against a frisky Baylor team; and even Texas, having already played all of the ranked teams in the conference, can’t sit back and rest on their laurels, because on Thanksgiving night they face the much-hated Texas A&M Aggies, who currently own a two-game win streak over them. On top of all of that, let’s not forget that whoever does end up representing the Big 12 South will still have to travel to St. Louis, Mo., to face the 13th ranked Missouri Tigers in the Big 12 Championship game. The road to glory is filled with trials and tribulations, but Texas Tech, Oklahoma, and Texas have all proved they are more than up to the challenge and on December 6 the rest of the country will finally get to see which of these juggernauts is the last team standing.