Is the Big 12 preparing Collin Klein, Bill Snyder and the Kansas State Wildcats enough for the BCS?
Well, with a solid win over the Oklahoma State Wildcats and improving to 9-0 on the year, Kansas State remains the conference's front-runner and is three games from perfection. Klein is the obvious Heisman Trophy lead, and a 12-0 finish certainly enhances the Wildcats' odds at a national championship.
Still, the Big 12 has not seen much in BCS national title games. Only the Oklahoma Sooners, Texas Longhorns and Nebraska Cornhukers—when they were part of the conference—represented but combine for a record of only 2-5 in the big game.
As for Kansas State, the Wildcats have twice made a Fiesta Bowl appearance and are 1-1.
The loss, however, came during the BCS format in 2003 against the Ohio State Buckeyes. Here, we look at whether the conference itself has made Bill Snyder and Co. ready for the best college football has to offer because the biggest of stages provide the highest stakes.
What the Big 12 Offers
Right now, the Oklahoma Sooners present the next best challenge after Kansas State to the college football world. Bob Stoops' squad may be 6-2, but the two losses have come courtesy of the Wildcats and the Notre Dame Fighting Irish.
In short, those are arguably the two most legit losses any one team can have at this stage of the 2012 season. Other solid teams such as Texas, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are also formidable, and despite dropping three straight, West Virginia remains an explosive team.
Factor in the TCU Horned Frogs and the Big 12 is much better overall than at first glance. After all, TCU enters the conference with excellent BCS experience and are no stranger to pulling off upsets: Just ask Boise State in 2011 and Wisconsin in 2010.
For a conference that lost some key schools in Texas A&M and Nebraska, the Big 12 provides strength from top to bottom—and especially when compared to some other BCS conferences.
Comparison to Other BCS Conferences
Regardless of who chooses to acknowledge it or not, the SEC remains college football's premier conference after having won the past six national titles. Plus, during that stretch of 2008 and 2009 were over the Big 12 champion: Oklahoma in '08 and Texas in '09.
Now, though things have taken a significant turn throughout the nation, the Big Ten in 2012 is supremely weak by comparison because, despite Ohio State being perfect, the Buckeyes' best win is over unranked Northwestern.
Oregon is easily the best from the Pac-12.
Still, the Ducks lack defense and special teams when put side-to-side with Kansas State. In addition, Oregon has not played a team ranked inside the top 15. Most certainly do Stanford and Oregon State deserve recognition, although both slipped up versus the now-5-4 Washington Huskies.
When the Wildcats beat the Sooners, Mountaineers and Red Raiders, all three were inside the top 15. Only Louisville offers anything from the Big East, and the Cardinals have yet to even face a ranked opponent.
Now including the ACC and Florida State and Clemson obviously stand out. Unfortunately, both are in the Atlantic Division of that conference, and FSU's only ranked opponent victory was over Clemson: The Tigers lone ranked-opponent matchup was the Seminoles.
What will it take for K-State to receive a BCS title shot?
And the Final Verdict...
To be direct: Yes, the Kansas State Wildcats are getting toughened up by the Big 12 for a potential BCS appearance.
No matter if it's the Fiesta Bowl or national title game, Bill Snyder's crew will have played a worthy schedule. Looking back at the Wildcats' wins against ranked teams, the strength of schedule is only improving, thanks to the Miami Hurricanes.
The 'Canes are sitting at 5-4 and control their own destiny en route to the ACC title game. Provided Miami keeps winning, Kansas State could have defeated the eventual ACC champions by a wide margin.
Moving onward, the Wildcats still face games at TCU, at Baylor and then home versus Texas. These three currently combine for a 17-9 record, and it's quite possible the Longhorns are flirting with the top 10 after November.
So, as long as Kansas State runs the table, a legit BCS title shot is evident as well as a perfect 13-0 season.
Follow John Rozum on Twitter.