Good Night, Baylor, and Thanks for Playing
The Big XII has been an overrated league all year.
Its games have been hard to watch, as defense has been a foreign concept for the most part.
Baylor's undefeated season came to a crashing end on Saturday with a 49-17 loss to Oklahoma State. That's the same Oklahoma State team that was defeated by West Virginia earlier in the season. If any good came out of that loss, it was Mark Gundy's having seen enough of JW Walsh at quarterback and inserting senior Clint Chelf as the Cowboys' signal caller.
Seven consecutive victories later, Oklahoma State needs to take care of business on 7 December to secure a spot in a BCS bowl. But even if the Cowboys would have knocked off the Mountaineers and been undefeated right now, they would most likely be in the same position as Ohio State.
For any Big XII team to be considered in the BCS title talk this year, it would have to learn how to play defense. Yes, its teams can go up and down the field and win games 50-40, but when it comes to playing quality teams from other conferences, they'll be beaten handily nine out of ten times.
Baylor's loss leaves three unbeaten teams hoping for the two BCS championship game slots. If two-time defending champion Alabama beats rival Auburn on the road in the Iron Bowl on Saturday, they'll advance to play either Missouri or South Carolina in the SEC title game. Two wins for the Tide puts them in Pasedena on 6 January, playing for Championship No 3 in a row. Auburn, of course, will have something to say about that, and if they didn't stumble in an early season game at LSU, the Tigers could be better placed in the BCS mix.
Still, an upset of the Crimson Tide and a victory in the SEC championship game would give Auburn a compelling argument for consideration.
Florida State seems to have the easiest remaining path to Pasedena. The Seminoles play rival Florida on Saturday. The Gators did an 'Oregon State' in the midst of have throwing away their season, losing to FCS power Georgia Southern on Saturday. The fact that the Eagles are making the jump to the Sun Belt Conference next year is of little consolation to Florida, who fell to 4-7. If the Noles beat the Gators, which they will, all they have to do is defeat either Duke, Virginia Tech, Miami, or Georgia Tech in the ACC title game and they'll board a plane to Pasadena in January.
That leaves Ohio State. The Buckeyes are both undefeated and frustrated. They haven't lost since Urban Meyer assumed the reins last season (23-0), and now they need to beat the two Michigan schools to have any chance to get an invitation to the BCS title game. This weekend, the Buckeyes play a medicore Michigan team, where their biggest challenge will be a Wolverine mentality that a win in this rivalry would make their season. Then, it's on to Michigan State in the Big Ten title game a week later.
Now, college football being college football, what if any or all of the undefeated teams are upset and fall out of the picture? Who would move up with a chance to play in the BCS title game.
Well, certainly not Baylor or any Big XII team. Auburn could find a way to get in if they upset Alabama. Clemson could sneak in if some teams lose ahead of them if they beat South Carolina this week. And then there's Missouri. If the Tigers defeat Texas A&M this weekend, they would get a shot at Alabama or Auburn. Those wins could vault them over everyone and into a possible title game spot.
So, while it appears there's little drama left at the top in Division I, there's always hope for one more surprise. Just don't count on it coming from the Big XII.