Big 12 football: Mizzou drops the ball
I believe in bowl games as a barometer for conference strength, for a very simple reason. There is no other barometer.
Most college football programs have surrendered to easy schedules; there aren’t enough interleague games in September to determine conference strength. Most BCS-league schools play just one fellow BCS-league school non-conference. Few play two.
So we have to rely on bowls for clarity on conference supremacy. In theory, evenly-matched games on neutral fields. The best kind of football.
With that said, the Big 12 is in trouble. Missouri’s 27-24 loss to Iowa — which was completely avoidable; Blaine Gabbert’s needlessly-thrown pass which was intercepted and returned for a touchdown in the fourth quarter gave the Hawkeyes a life preserver — puts the Big 12 in a hole and makes today very important.
Oklahoma State plays Arizona tonight in the Alamo Bowl, and Baylor plays Illinois today in the Texas Bowl. The Big 12 needs a sweep. The Big 12 got a bunch of favorable matchups in bowls: 10-2 Mizzou vs. 7-5 Iowa; 10-2 OSU vs. 7-5 Arizona; 7-5 Baylor vs. 6-6 Illinois; 10-2 Oklahoma vs. 8-4 Connecticut in the Fiesta Bowl; 10-3 Nebraska vs. 6-6 Washington in the Holiday Bowl.
The only Big 12 bowls that seemed to match equitable teams are the Pinstripe (7-5 Kansas State vs. 7-5 Syracuse), TicketCity (7-5 Texas Tech vs. 7-5 Northwestern) and Cotton (9-3 Texas A&M vs. 10-2 LSU).
In the bowl standings, it’s very early. The SEC and Pac-10 haven’t played a game, and the Insight was the first bowl for the Big 12 and the Big Ten. The ACC and Big East are 1-1 in bowls. The Mountain West is 3-1.
If you want to judge the standings based solely on records against other BCS conferences (and the Mountain West), the standings are: Big Ten 1-0, Mountain West 1-0, ACC 1-1, SEC 0-0, Pac-10 0-0, Big East 0-1, Big 12 0-1.
What’s worse for the Big 12 is that Nebraska figures to get a bowl victory (the Huskers beat Washington 56-21 in September) but then scrams for the Big Ten. Either way, the Big 12 loses. A loss is another indictment of the conference’s prowess in 2010; a victory signals that the Big 12 losing one of its members who can win in the post-season.
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