It was all the rage last year. The debate plugged on until the fateful matchup between the best of the Big 12 (some Texas fans beg to differ) against the best of the SEC.
Who is the best conference in college football?
Last season, the Big 12 was known for offense, and little defense. The SEC: known for the opposite, a lot of defense and little offense. So we waited until Bowl season to clear the air.
Bowl season revealed much about the Big 12. And so far, as we enter Conference play, those realizations haven't been proven wrong.
Playing with the big boys, the big four in the Big 12 South (Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., and Texas Tech) went a combined 1-3 in bowl games, with Texas being a play away from the south going 0-4 in bowl games.
That's when the Big 12's stock started to fall. Nevermind the fact that the North went 4-0, all that did was prove that mediocre teams could play and beat other mediocre teams. Nebraska beat Clemson, Kansas overwhelmed Minnesota, and Missouri squeaked one out against Northwestern.
These wins aren't impressive, at least not to the rest of the nation. That's when the Big 12's stock started to fall. Florida handled Oklahoma in the second half to a 24-14 win, Ole Miss man-handled the Red Raiders 47-34, and Oregon humbled Oklahoma State 41-31. The SEC won their big games; the Big 12, not so much.
So it began this season.
Oklahoma claimed they were going after another national title and Texas felt like the forgotten lover wanting to exclaim their ability to the world. Oklahoma State jumped quickly to a five-spot and the Red Raiders wanted to prove that offseason issues and a new quarterback and receiving corps didn't mean they would miss a beat.
It seemed the Big 12 was once again poised for greatness.
Then it happened. The first weekend of the season, Sam Bradford went out with an injury and BYU beat the mighty Sooners 14-13. Texas struggled for the first half on the road with a Wyoming team that would later get blanked by a bad Colorado team.
Oklahoma State got beaten by Houston and so did Texas Tech. Not only that, but the next week, Tech struggled to beat a New Mexico team that had lost to New Mexico State the week before, losing Taylor Potts and struggling to a 14-7 half-time lead that would later inflate to 48-28.
Not to mention Nebraska's blunder against Texas Tech and Oklahoma's one-point loss to a Miami team that had been embarrassed the week before in Blacksburg, or the complete thrashing of Texas A&M by a rebuilding Arkansas team.
All this to say that one team needs to keep winning if the Big 12 wants to maintain that superiority stigma (Hint: it's not a North a team).
Sorry Husker nation, as bad as I want to say it's Nebraska, I just can't. No one respects Big 12 North teams right now and the only way to not let the Big 12 settle into a realm of mediocrity and Big 10 comparisons is if Texas keeps winning.
The mighty ones have fallen, with Texas Tech looking awfully mediocre and Oklahoma State's defense looking about the same as it did last year. And once again, not to poke the stick into open wounds, but Oklahoma's pedestrian 2-2 record to begin the year isn't helping matters, either.
The problem with the Big 12 is that its top 10 teams have fallen week after week and we can only hope that Texas will beat Colorado and move on this season to prove that at least one team in the conference has big game capabilities.
Right now, if you ask anyone in the PAC-10, SEC, or even the Big East or ACC if they fear anyone in the Big 12, most football fans would think for a second and answer with a resounding "no."
So even though I am a North homer, I do realize how big southern success is to the conference's credibility. Now if Nebraska beats Oklahoma at home, there will be a few surprised faces, but that would most likely be the third or fourth loss for the Sooners by then and the Huskers will receive little to no credibility.
The same goes for Kansas and Missouri. We need one South team to remain atop the world if the North is going to climb into relevance. And it starts with not losing face against other conferences.
As of right now, the Big 12 is a whopping 5-10 against teams from other major conferences (PAC-10, ACC, Big East, SEC, MWC, and C-USA).
In fact, two of those conferences aren't even BCS conferences. The Big 12 has taken a step back this season. It may be injuries, or it may be tougher scheduling and rebuilding programs, but the fact remains that its credibility is slipping.
So as much as I hate to cheer for the Longhorns, it is imperative that at least they keep winning. Otherwise, the Big 12 may be exposed; either that or the North must rise in dominance.
Now I'm not saying the sky is falling, I'm not even claiming that to be remotely close to the truth. I'm simply stating that the credibility is starting to slip; and with it, in the future, so might the sky.
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