Big 12 drama will again extend through final games
The drama in the Big 12 Conference will again carry all the way to the end of the regular season.
For the fourth year in a row since the league went to 10 teams and a round-robin schedule, the champion - and very possibly co-champions again - won't be decided until the first Saturday in December. That is even after Big 12 co-leaders No. 5 Baylor, No. 6 TCU and No. 11 Kansas State all play rivalry games Thanksgiving weekend.
''That's a pretty astonishing fact that there's that much parity in the league, that it goes down to the last game of the season or the last week of the season for four years straight,'' Baylor coach Art Briles said Monday.
The Bears were in that spot last year, clinching their first Big 12 title outright with a victory over Texas in the league's very last game of the regular season after Oklahoma State lost to Oklahoma earlier in the day.
''Everybody else is having conference championship games ... we're playing for the league title because you played everybody,'' TCU coach Gary Patterson said during the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference. ''That's what they're having championship games to do, and we're doing that already.''
TCU (9-1, 6-1 Big 12), trying to become the sixth different team in six seasons to claim a Big 12 title, plays at Texas on Thanksgiving night and is home against Iowa State on Dec. 6, the same day Kansas State (8-2, 6-1) plays at Baylor (9-1, 6-1).
K-State hosts Kansas this Saturday, when Baylor plays Texas Tech at the Dallas Cowboys' stadium in Arlington, Texas.
The Big 12 is the only one of the five power conferences without a championship game. The SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and ACC all wrap up their regular seasons this week before title games the first weekend in December.
Two years ago, Kansas State beat Texas in the last game to get the league's guaranteed BCS spot in the Fiesta Bowl. The Wildcats shared the league title with eight-time Big 12 champion Oklahoma, which had won earlier that same day at TCU but lost to K-State earlier in the season.
Oklahoma State won its season finale over the Sooners to win outright instead of having to share with Kansas State in 2011, the first year as a 10-team league and no longer with a championship game.
Kansas State coach Bill Snyder initially made reference to the new four-team College Football Playoff when asked Monday about how good it was for the Big 12 to keep having league title-impacting games through the end of the season.
''We'll probably have a better idea, be able to answer the question a little bit better after the quote, unquote, playoff system, and the final four so to speak are determined,'' Snyder said. ''I think that would probably identify whether it was a plus or a minus.''
The new playoff rankings come out Tuesday night, and the final poll determining the four playoff teams will be released Dec. 7, the day after the Big 12 wraps up its season and all the other leagues play their championship games. TCU was fifth in last week's playoff poll before being an open date over the weekend, with Baylor seventh and K-State 12th before victories.
What about the season-ending Big 12 championship drama without considering the playoff system?
''There's obviously some enthusiasm and excitement for it, and it carries its own meaning,'' Snyder said. ''So I don't have any complaints with it.''