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Bedlam bails out the Big 12

In lieu of a conference title game, OU and OSU will meet in a game that is all the TV networks could have hoped for short of the two schools being ranked first and second.
BY JENNI CARLSON & BERRY TRAMEL Staff Writers Published: November 28, 2011
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First, the Big 12 shrunk to 10 schools and was out of the football championship game business.

Then, FOX secured the rights to the new title games of the Pac-12 and Big Ten.

Suddenly, the first Saturday in December was looking a little lean for ABC/ESPN.

Bedlam to the rescue.

OSU and OU play Saturday night in Stillwater in a virtual Big 12 title game that even has a thread of national-championship implications.

“ABC/ESPN wanted to make sure we maintained a strong presence on Championship Saturday,” said Big 12 associate commissioner Tim Allen. “They came to us.”

Little has gone right for the Big 12 over the last 18 months.

A revolving door of conference membership. Internal and public bickering. Lawsuits and threats of lawsuits. A commissioner deposed.

But finally, something breaks the Big 12's way. The league scheduled a marquee finale that ranks with the LSU-Georgia SEC title game as the best showdown of Championship Saturday.

Bedlam 2011 is all that ABC/ESPN could have hoped for, “short of them being (ranked) one and two,” Allen said.

The 10-1 Cowboys are ranked third in the BCS; the 9-2 Sooners are No. 10. The winner gets the Fiesta Bowl berth, unless OSU somehow squirms past No. 2 Alabama, a longshot, and into the national championship game.

No Big 12 school has scheduled a December game since the league formed in 1996. Moving Bedlam to December was a cooperative effort among the networks, the league office and the schools.

“We were more than happy to do that,” said OSU athletic director Mike Holder. “I think it was a win for everybody, especially the conference.

“I think that was the consensus among everybody in the conference when we lost the championship game — we need to have a big game that weekend. At the very least, you were going to get a very passionate game.”

The Big 12 gets that and more – including the promise of great drama. The last six Bedlams in Stillwater have produced games of 12-7, 38-28, 38-35, 27-21, 61-41 and 47-41. Only OSU's 38-28 victory in 2002 was decided before the fourth quarter.