An eventful week in the Big 12 has come to a close, and now the biggest conference game of the year between Baylor and Oklahoma State is only one week away.
ESPN's College GameDay will be in Stillwater when the Bears put their undefeated season on the line against the Cowboys. Conference title, and possibly BCS title, implications will be high.
Still, the Big 12 is anything but settled. Despite losing to Oklahoma state in Week 12, Texas isn't out of the championship race yet. Technically, neither is Oklahoma following its win 48-10 over Iowa State. There's still a lot to play for and the top four teams need to take care of their own business.
It'll be interesting to see if things get bananas over the next few weeks, but in the meantime, here's what we learned in Week 12.
Texas may be coming back down to Earth
Texas coach Mack Brown deserves some credit for leading his team to six straight wins despite a 1-2 start and multiple injuries to key players. This team has shown a lot of determination and came into Saturday's game against Oklahoma State undefeated in conference play.
In hindsight, the 'Horns also benefited from playing some average opponents. And the Cowboys are anything but average. It showed, as Oklahoma State rolled to a 38-13 win. The Longhorns once again struggled to defend the zone read on defense (Cowboys quarterback Clint Chelf ran for 95 yards and two scores) and quarterback Case McCoy threw three interceptions.
Things don't let up for Texas either; games against Texas Tech on Thanksgiving and at Baylor on Dec. 7 await. The Longhorns can still take home a share of a Big 12 title if they win out, and this team shouldn't automatically be counted out of anything yet. However, Saturday's loss was a humbling one for the 'Horns.
Kansas has something to build on with Montell Cozart
Finally, the streak of 27 straight conference losses came to end for Kansas on Saturday when the Jayhawks beat West Virginia 31-19. The Jayhawks can "rock chalk" that win up to an outstanding rushing effort from James Sims, who had 211 yards and three touchdowns, and an inspired defense.
But Kansas has also found its quarterback in freshman Montell Cozart. Cozart only completed 5-of-12 passes, but he added another 60 yards on the ground and gives head coach Charlie Weis some nice physical tools to work with.
There's no bowl game for Kansas, but there are two games against Iowa State and Kansas State which could be beneficial for Cozart's development. If the Jayhawks had gone another full season without a conference win, the offseason would have been unbearable. Now, there's some promise, some things to build on for 2014.
Baylor tasted its own blood and fought back
Normally, it's Baylor who jumps out to a 14-0 lead before anybody knows what happened. Yet it was Texas Tech that was up two touchdowns on the Bears in the first quarter of Saturday's game in Arlington.
Things like that are going to happen. Baylor has the target on its back and Texas Tech, for all its problems, is capable of scoring points. So what did the Bears do in response? Not much, just outscored the Red Raiders 35-13 before halftime, and then 28-7 in the second half to win 63-34.
The terrifying part about the Bears is that they don't have to play perfect because they can compensate by scoring at any moment, yet opponents have to play perfect just to have a shot. Consider it this way: Tech scored three touchdowns in the first quarter...and still trailed at the start of the second (thanks to a missed extra point).
Whether it's a punt/kick return for a touchdown or a turnover, Baylor makes its opponents pay for mistakes unlike any other team in college football.
TCU and West Virginia have hit their low points
It's been tough sledding for the Big 12's newest members. Following losses in Week 12, TCU and West Virginia are bowl ineligible for the first time since 2004 and 2001, respectively. That's a hard pill to swallow for two respected programs.
There are myriad reasons why the Frogs and Mountaineers have struggled—more reasons than any one post can explain. To a large degree, it comes down to depth. The Mountaineers have felt the wrath of the injury bug, especially on defense.
Perhaps TCU and WVU could have gotten away with depth issues in the Mountain West and Big East. They're not so fortunate now. Both programs will continue to build and better days await. There's going to be a lot of frustration in the meantime, though.
Other happenings from around the Big 12
Best offensive performance: Baylor wide receiver Levi Norwood. The junior had seven catches for 156 yards and two touchdowns. He also had a nifty 58-yard punt return for a touchdown.
Best defensive performance: Oklahoma State cornerback Justin Gilbert. The senior recorded nine tackles and two interceptions against Texas, including one that went 43 yards the other way for a score just before halftime. Gilbert sustained a shoulder injury in the game, but told reporters afterward he should be good to go against Baylor.
Here's a GIF of Gilbert's pick-six. Mack Brown's expression is incredible.
Most hypnotic dance moves: Baylor receiver Tevin Reese. A regular season-ending wrist injury will not—repeat, will not—keep this guy from getting in the zone, man.
Best unparalleled, and perhaps unwarranted, display of confidence: Kansas bro with with the "We Want Bama" sign. Bless you, KU bro. Bless you.
Best one-handed catch: Texas Tech wide receiver Eric Ward. Let's put it this way: This was the moment where Fox play-by-play broadcaster Gus Johnson almost exploded.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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