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Big 12 football: OU-West Virginia takes over as conference's marquee game

For once, OU-Texas is not No. 1 on Berry Tramel's list of the most-anticipated Big 12 showdowns. Welcome to the Big 12, West Virginia.
by Berry Tramel Published: July 1, 2012

Oklahoma-Texas long has been the Big 12's marquee football game. It's an institution unto itself.

But as the Longhorns floundered in the post-Colt McCoy era, OU-Texas lost a little luster. And last year, we took a major step.

In The Oklahoman's annual ranking of every Big 12 football game, OU-Texas was not No. 1 on the most-anticipated list.

Bedlam replaced it. And we were right. OSU-OU was for the Big 12 title and Fiesta Bowl berth, and the Cowboys made history with a 44-10 swamping of the Sooners in Stillwater.

Now it's 2012, and with no Brandon Weeden or Justin Blackmon in the Cowboys' kaleidoscope orange, gray and black, and still no quarterback of substance in Austin, the Big 12 needs a new marquee game.

And to the rescue comes conference realignment.

On Nov. 17, amid Country Roads and Appalachian Mountains, the Sooners play at West Virginia in what very well could be the de facto Big 12 championship game.

We've named it the No. 1 Big 12 game going into the 2012 season. You can see the full list, one through 75, on pages 10-11B.

“That's tall cotton for us Mountaineers,” West Virginia Oliver Luck athletic director said with a trace of irony, considering the crop preferences of his new conference brothers.

But that's why the Mountaineers wanted so badly to find a new home like the Big 12. For games like this.

For games matching Heisman-contending quarterbacks in Geno Smith and Landry Jones, for games matching teams destined for the preseason top-10.

For games that could be a virtual national semifinal in these final few pre-Football Four days.

Most preseason pundits have OU and West Virginia 1-2 or 2-1 in the Big 12.

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by Berry Tramel
Columnist and Reporter
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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