Big 12 championship Saturday without a title game

The Big 12 will have its own championship Saturday, even without

a title game.

Both remaining regular-season games in the conference’s

round-robin schedule have championship implications, providing for

quite a closing doubleheader.

”Whoever made the schedule out is looking pretty smart right

now,” Baylor coach Art Briles said Monday. ”I don’t know how they

did it, but they hit on this one.”

Sixth-ranked Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1, Big 12) can clinch the

league’s Big 12 BCS berth with a win at home over No. 18 Oklahoma

(9-2, 6-2). The Bedlam game should wrap up about the same time that

No. 9 Baylor (10-1, 7-1) kicks off its regular-season finale at

home against No. 23 Texas (8-3, 7-1).

If Oklahoma State loses, the Bears and Longhorns suddenly are

playing for the outright conference title and a trip to the Fiesta

Bowl.

Texas quarterback Case McCoy said he’ll be rooting for Oklahoma,

though ”it makes me sick to my stomach to think about.”

Oklahoma State has won seven in a row, including convincing

victories over Baylor and Texas their last two games.

”It’s really another game for us,” Cowboys coach Mike Gundy

said. ”We’ve been in what I’ve called tournament play for the last

eight weeks.”

The Cowboys have made quote a comeback since that

still-surprising 30-21 loss at West Virginia (4-8, 2-7) in their

Big 12 opener nearly three months ago.

Their only Big 12 title came two years ago, and they clinched

that with a 44-10 win over Oklahoma on the final Saturday. That was

the first season the league went to a round-robin schedule after

dropping from 12 to 10 teams and losing its championship game.

”There’s a lot going on, our players have been in this

situation,” Gundy said. ”They have to understand the importance

of preparing for this game and taking care of their business and

not worrying about anybody else’s team.”

Such as what happens to Florida State, Ohio State, Auburn and

Missouri – the teams ahead of them in the BCS standings that play

in league championship games Saturday.

Texas was in a similar situation going into the 2001 Big 12

championship game against Colorado, needing a win for a national

championship shot after other teams lost earlier that day to create

that possibility. But the Longhorns lost 39-37.

”We did make the guys aware in 2001 before the Colorado game

that things had worked out so if we beat Colorado we would be

playing Miami for the national championship, and then we didn’t

play well,” Texas coach Mack Brown said. ”Probably tried too

hard, they wanted to play in the national championship so

badly.”

Brown anticipates a different approach this week with the

earlier Big 12 game.

”I think you ignore it the best you can,” Brown said. ”We

told (players), let’s not talk about the Big 12 championship after

today. … Whatever happens will be good for us if we take care of

our business.”

Baylor is trying to win its first Big 12 title when playing the

final game after 64 seasons in Floyd Casey Stadium before moving to

a new on-campus stadium next year. Asked if it would be difficult

to ignore what is going on Saturday in Stillwater, Okla., before

his game, Briles chuckled while insisting that it wouldn’t.

”I guess just because it doesn’t really have any bearing on the

outcome of our game,” Briles said. ”Our deal is to go out and

play our best and try to scratch out a victory against Texas. We

can’t control what happens prior to that.”

Should Oklahoma State win Saturday, the winner between Baylor

and Texas would still share the Big 12 title and likely be the

league’s representative in the Cotton Bowl. A one-loss Bears team

could still get an at-large BCS berth.

Oklahoma has won a league-high eight Big 12 titles, sharing last

year with Kansas State. The Sooners now could keep their archrival

from winning the conference championship, though coach Bob Stoops

said that doesn’t play into their thinking this week.

”That maybe is the lowest form of motivation that a competitor

may have, so no, that has nothing to do with how we approach the

game whatsoever,” Stoops said. ”That’s a very, very low form of

motivation.”

They have more than enough with Bedlam.

AP Sports Writer Jim Vertuno in Austin, Texas, contributed to

this report.