STILLWATER — Jonathan Rush looked at the Big 12 Conference standings the other day and did a double take.
"It said Baylor, then Oklahoma State," he recalled.
And the Cowboy offensive lineman wasn't looking at the bottom of the standings or even at the middle of them.
He was looking at the very top.
In this first week of November, Baylor is first in the South Division and Oklahoma State is tied for second with Oklahoma.
The divisional cellar dwellers?
Texas A&M. Texas. Texas Tech.
Here's another one to ponder — the winner of Saturday's game between Baylor and OSU will be in the South Division driver's seat.
Everyone thought that'd be the case when the season started, right? I mean, that's about as likely as the Saints making the Super Bowl and the Rangers going to the World Series in the same year.
Oh, wait ...
So, how did we get two months deep into the season with Baylor and OSU atop of the standings? How did we make it to the stretch run with the Bears and the Cowboys playing for South Division supremacy Saturday in Stillwater?
Have they risen? Have others fallen?
The answers are clear — yes and yes.
The South Division is populated by powerhouses. Texas played for the national championship last season. Oklahoma played for it two seasons ago. Texas A&M hasn't been great in the past decade, but historically, it has a strong pedigree. Texas Tech hasn't been great historically, but in the past decade, it has a strong track record.
The Sooners have maintained their powerhouse status this season, sitting eighth in the BCS standings, but those other three teams have a combined record of 13-11.
Their combined league record: 6-9.
"Nobody's ever seen the Big 12 like this," OSU cornerback Andrew McGee said. "Seeing those other teams fall gives everybody in the Big 12 confidence to go out and feel like they can win a Big 12 championship."
Still, there have been many seasons where a down year by the powerhouses didn't drop them much in the standings. Even though they weren't as good or deep or smart, few teams exploited those weaknesses.
That isn't the case this season.
Baylor and OSU have capitalized. Both programs have been improving in recent years, upgrading their talent, their coaching and their facilities. Still, having star players like Robert Griffin and Justin Blackmon and offensive masterminds like Art Briles and Dana Holgorsen only gets you so far.
You have to go out and win.
Baylor and OSU have this season.
Before this year began, the pundits and the prognosticators didn't think that the Bears or the Cowboys would.
"If I can remember correct, we were second to last and Baylor was last," McGee said of preseason predictions for the South Division.
"There's definitely been a flip this year."
Granted, OSU and Baylor still have difficult games ahead. After Saturday's showdown — yes, Baylor at OSU is a showdown — the Cowboys have road games at Texas and Kansas along with Bedlam while the Bears have home games against Texas A&M and OU. Mathematically, both Baylor and OSU could still finish in the bottom half of the division.
But that isn't going to happen. No way. No how.
One of the three teams currently at the top of the Big 12 South will win the division — and the winner of Saturday's game in Stillwater will have the inside track.
"I never would've believed that going into the season," Cowboy wide receiver Isaiah Anderson said. "I probably would've started laughing. But now, it's reality.
"We've got to take advantage of it."