Big 12 remains wide open

Nick Castillo

Does anybody want to win the Big 12?

No. 2 Baylor and No. 3 TCU lead the conference, but even they haven’t been incredibly impressive.

Sure, the Bears beat Kansas 66-7 on Saturday. Baylor really put it on the vaunted Jayhawks’ defense, which ranks No. 116 in total defense. The Bears have scored 64.2 points per game in five wins this season, which is impressive, except that four wins came against SMU, Rice, Lamar and Kansas. Baylor should be able to put up 100 points against those teams.

“You can find challenge everywhere,” Baylor head coach Art Briles said after Saturday’s game.

Except a weak nonconference schedule isn’t legitimate challenge for a top-3 team. Baylor’s only potential obstacles to winning a third Big 12 championship are TCU, an epic collapse against an unworthy opponent or — even worse — flags flying everywhere from an Alan Eck-led officiating crew.

TCU’s threat to a Big 12 title poses questions as well. The Horned Frogs demolished Texas 50-7 but struggled against Kansas State, as Wildcat head coach Bill Snyder almost performed another act of wizardry.

TCU has displayed unimpressive moments as it struggled early in the season. But the Horned Frogs are definitely trending upward right now, especially with their last game of the season at home against Baylor.

Oklahoma looked like a contender before Saturday’s loss to the Longhorns. Junior quarterback Baker Mayfield had put up gaudy stats leading up to the Cotton Bowl letdown. Texas entered the game off its blowout loss to TCU appearing fractured, with players fighting on Twitter. Did you really want to beat the Longhorns and contend for a Big 12 Championship, Sooners? Retweet for yes or favorite for no.

“All in all, they kicked us and won the football game,” Oklahoma head coach Bob Stoops said. “There’s not much else to say about it.”

Obviously, Stoops and the Sooners pressed favorite. Or maybe Oklahoma was just ready to play its in-state rival Oklahoma State and forgot to gear up for the Longhorns.

If it’s any consolation, Oklahoma, the Cowboys almost forgot about Texas, too. Texas nearly beat them before the Longhorns’ inept special teams mishandled a snap on a punt by freshman punter Michael Dickson. It was one of many lucky breaks Oklahoma State has caught this year.

The Cowboys appear to be the conference’s dark horse. They’re undefeated and look ahead to a favorable schedule, with home games against TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma.

Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Texas, Texas Tech and West Virginia all have at least one loss. Without a few breaks, each is out of contention.

The question still remains: Does anybody want to win the Big 12?