The early season goings on cannot be what Big 12 officials envisioned when they turned their backs on overtures to join up with other conferences during the conference realignment era. It appears that everything has settled down nationally and the other major conferences have settled on their teams for the 2014 playoff year. Each of those conferences are getting stronger while the Big 12 is floundering. If the Big 12 does not turn things around in a hurry, recruits will be avoiding the Big 12 like the plague in hopes of hooking up with a conference with viable playoff aspirations.
In spite of schedules speckled with 9 Division II opponents the conference is a smashing 21-11. As a result, the conference must turn things around quickly and an OU win at Notre Dame has become a must win for the conference. While a win over the overrated Irish may not provide a huge strength of schedule jump for the Sooners, a loss to the Irish would be devastating for both the Sooners and for the conference. With preseason contenders Texas, K-State and TCU going south in a hurry only three bono fide contenders remain. It now appears to be up to OU, OSU and Baylor to carry the Big 12 banner and keep the conference relative this year and beyond.
Baylor will score a ton of points against defenseless opponents, but will falter against teams that can play defense. That leaves OU and OSU to get it done. If OU were to stumble in South Bend, only the scandal ravaged Cowboys would remain.
As I said many times, the Big 12 is getting what it asked for. When the conference decided to go it alone a few years back, Big 12 officials with the agreement of OU leaders installed OSU as the conferences’ third team to go along with marquee teams OU and Texas. Unfortunately, conference officials did not see the OSU scandal coming. Having OSU represent the conference in its BCS bowl game would validate OSU’s scandal-ridden ways and would be an embarrassment for the conference.
Here is the skinny for conference survival. OU must run the table with wins over Notre Dame Saturday followed by wins over TCU and Texas. Anything less will cause the conference to continue its downward spiral, a move that will certainly put the conference behind the 8 ball for next year’s playoff run.