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Big 12 appears tougher than it has ever been — if not more

The addition of West Virginia and Texas Christian might be the best thing to happen in conference realignments.
by Berry Tramel Published: September 30, 2012

Kansas State might run the Big 12 table. Texas could, too. And Geno Smith's touchdown passes are burning up the telegraph machines from West Virginia to out here on the frontier, so maybe the Mountaineers will dominate their new league.

But I don't think so.

After one round of games, the Big 12 football race seems ridiculously wide open. Just about anything could happen and in some cases already has.

K-State won in Norman. Baylor scored nine touchdowns and lost. OSU, playing with its backup quarterback, took Texas to the wire and nearly staged another Music City Miracle.

Here's how crazy Big 12 football has been. After just five games, we've already had two teams reverse 2011 losses of 41 points (KSU-OU) and 34 points (Texas Tech-Iowa State).

Those five games included no blowouts. TCU's 20-6 victory over Kansas was the most one-sided verdict. Every other game went to the final two minutes or the final play.

The league's parity is good news for the Sooners and Cowboys, who stumbled in their league openers. The league's parity is bad news for the conference's Big Bowl hopes. A Big 12 squad is not likely to be in Miami Gardens come January, playing an SEC behemoth for the national championship.

In some ways, Big 12 football 2012 shapes up as NFL-style competition. Week to week, game to game, you never know what you'll get. Win two out of three and you're happy. Or ought to be.

Like this coming Saturday. Kansas at Kansas State will be a Wildcat romp. But OU at Tech? West Virginia at Texas? Iowa State at TCU? Nobody has even a good guess at what to expect.

This is a natural result of the nine-game conference format. Three times in the last 10 years, OU won Big 12 titles after a 6-2 conference record. In 2010, five Big 12 teams were 6-2 — OU, OSU, Texas A&M, Missouri and Nebraska.

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by Berry Tramel
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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