The Big 12 schedule-makers (and He Who Arranges Geographic Rivalries) sure are happy with their work for 2013. The top half of the conference — UT, Baylor, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech — have 18 games left between them, and 13 of those are matchups against another one of the top five.
That leaves fans with a one month long round-robinish mini-tournament to close the season. Delightful.
From the fifth spot in the standings, moving up:
Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-2, 4-2 Big 12)
Remaining games: Kansas State, @ Baylor, @ Texas
Prediction: 1-2 (7-4, 5-4) fifth place — Holiday Bowl vs. Stanford
After a perfect start, Kliff Kingsbury’s squad has dropped two straight against the first ranked opponents on Texas Tech’s schedule, and the only other members of the Fantastic Five (Oklahoma and Oklahoma State). Not their year, but stay tuned for the sequel.
Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-1, 4-1 Big 12)
Remaining games: Kansas, @ Texas, Baylor, Oklahoma
Prediction: 3-1 (10-2, 7-2) second place — Cotton Bowl vs. South Carolina
Sure, the offense can be inconsistent. And sure, they have a bad loss to West Virginia on their docket. But they’ve got the most palatable schedule of this gang of usual suspects with three home games and a two-week rest before the big Bedlam Series matchup.
Oklahoma Sooners (7-2, 4-2 Big 12)
Remaining games: Iowa State, @ Kansas State, @ Oklahoma State
Prediction: 3-1 (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) third place —Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. Wisconsin
There are three things you can count on this time of year: You need a jacket to go out at night, Christmas music is playing in stores, and Bob Stoops is about to make a poor clock management or ball control decision that will cost his team a game. Plus, with Baylor’s win Thursday, it doesn’t look like this Sooners team is going anywhere.
Baylor Bears (8-0, 5-0 Big 12)
Remaining games: Texas Tech, @ Oklahoma State, @ TCU, Texas
Prediction: 3-2 (10-2, 7-2 Big 12) third place — Alamo Bowl vs. Arizona State
The biggest question mark and biggest exclamation point is Baylor, with their five 69-plus point games and #5 ranking. Has Art Briles caught lightning in a bottle, or is it more like a few frantic fireflies?
The Bears answered that question Thursday with their convincing win over Oklahoma. Still, Baylor have a brutal schedule the rest of the way, and, without a Saturday off, it’s hard to envision Baylor running the table.
Texas Longhorns (6-2, 5-0 Big 12)
Remaining games: @ West Virginia, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, @ Baylor
Prediction: 4-0, (10-2, 9-0 Big 12) first place — Fiesta Bowl vs. Houston
This really comes down to two games for Texas: Nov. 16 at home against Oklahoma State and the finale in Waco.
As hard as it would have been to believe even a couple of weeks ago, Texas is best poised to come out at the head of the five football families — making Mack Brown the godfather of giant, beaming press conference smiles.
And he’d have full license to deliver, in his thunderously jovial way, a thoroughly justified “I told you so” that will rumble through the hills and plains of Texas.