Auburn-Missouri in Atlanta. Ohio State-Michigan State in Indianapolis. Florida State-Duke at Charlotte. Arizona State-Stanford in Tempe.
Is it OK to admit that I miss the Big 12 Championship Game? While every other major conference is playing a title game Saturday, the Big 12 settles for a doubleheader with championship implications. Bedlam in Stillwater, the Floyd Casey Stadiums swan song in Waco. Good football. But not the stage the Big 12 once had.
We’ll see how the Big 12 fares in the new playoff format, with a four-team tournament starting next season. But for now, the Big 12 is behind in marketability, with no championship game. The marketing slogan — one true champion — has been summarily refuted. The Big 12 is sticking at 10 schools not because a round-robin format is best, but because the Big 12 can’t find two schools to adequately replace what was lost.
Bedlam will fill the void this year, at least for Oklahomans. But elsewhere? Elsewhen? Hard to say. Let’s get to the picks:
OU at OSU: Cowboys 28-20. The recent optimism over the Sooner offense corresponded not only with Trevor Knight’s return to the saddle, but playing against two lower-division Big 12 defenses.
Texas at Baylor: Bears 51-21. Baylor on the road. So-so. Baylor at home. Fabulous.
Missouri vs. Auburn at Atlanta: Mizzou 24-23. Missouri’s third trip to a conference championship game. This time, MU’s not facing the Sooners.
Ohio State vs. Michigan State at Indianapolis: Buckeyes 19-17. The Spartans play defense, so they will keep it close.
Louisville at Cincinnati: Bearcats 24-23. If Cincy wins and Central Florida loses to SMU, Cincinnati is in the BCS and could play OSU in the Fiesta Bowl.
Bowling Green at Northern Illinois: Huskies 41-31. If Northern Illinois, it’s headed to the Fiesta Bowl. Does OSU-Northern Illinois get you excited?
Marshall at Rice: Thundering Herd 34-24. Great year for Rice. Win the West division of Conference USA, plus get to host the title game.
Central Florida at SMU: Golden Knights 26-14. George O’Leary vs. Mike Gundy in the Fiesta Bowl. This much we know. Gundy can’t fudge his resume’. We know too much about him.
Memphis at Connecticut: Tigers 29-21. Great basketball game. Dud football game.
South Florida at Rutgers: Bulls 28-27. The Scarlet Knights not exactly going into the Big Ten with guns a blazing.
Stanford at Arizona State: Cardinal 23-20. I’ll try to put this delicately, but the Pac-12 is a Mickey Mouse conference, playing its title game on a home field.
Louisiana-Lafayette at South Alabama: Ragin’ Cajuns 27-10. South Alabama actually has put together a decent program since starting a couple of years ago.
Duke vs. Florida State at Charlotte: Seminoles 42-17. Jameis Winston won’t be charged. Which ends the Blue Devils’ chances.
Utah State at Fresno State: Bulldogs 40-21. I believe Fresno State would have passed Northern Illinois and made the Fiesta Bowl, had the Bulldogs beaten San Jose State last week.
Last week: 32-16. Season: 506-159.