A Good Weekend To Have A Bye

Let's count the ways that I was surprised over the weekend in Big 12 football. By the way, there is a moral to this recap and we will save that for the conclusion. An early moral to our weekend of wildness is that this was a good weekend to be on the sidelines, not just in the Big 12 but with all of the upsets nationally.

Let's start with the Red River Rivalry and the surprising 36-20 win by the beleaguered Texas Longhorns over Oklahoma. Don't look now but the man being scooted out the door by fans and media alike in Austin, Longhorns head coach Mack Brown is looking like a prophet.

Brown said after the second nonconference loss in September that the Longhorns goal of winning the Big 12 was still obtainable. Texas has stormed out to a 3-0 start in Big 12 play and is the early frontrunner. There is a long way to go but heading into a bye week Texas has a head of steam and now some truly valuable and well earned confidence.

The other unbeaten at 2-0 is Baylor. I have been drinking that green Kool-Aid spilling over in Waco. However, a 35-25 win on the road against the only 0-3 team in the Big 12, even though that team is the defending Big 12 champion, is a sign that the Bears may be closer to the pack than I thought during the first four games of averaging 70.5 points a contest. Baylor showed signs of being mortal on the plains of Kansas.

Texas Tech is creating all kinds of excitement in West Texas. A 42-point effort offensively with a backup freshman quarterback making his first start while filling in for a walkon true freshman speaks well of that offense.

The Red Raiders defense gave up 35 points to an Iowa State team that is not considered to be of upper division caliber. Also, Tech has left Lubbock only twice, for an opener in Dallas at SMU and a conference opener at projected last-place finisher Kansas.

For now the winless teams in the Big 12 are the aforementioned Jayhawks, Cyclones and defending champion Wildcats. A loss to any of these teams is a real dangerous threat to any school believing they can win the Big 12 championship. Trust me, all three will get a conference win. Sure, Kansas will likely beat one of the other two, or they are the school that may prove that last sentence wrong. I am sure that Iowa State and Kansas State will wreck somebody's October or November.

I would normally consider West Virginia and TCU in the middle of the conference. Either school would need a lot of help to win or even tie for the Big 12, but they will be relevant and they will be competitive on every Saturday, especially since TCU gets to host Baylor.

The rest of the schools have a shot at the title with Baylor still being the favorite. The OU game at home in Floyd Casey Stadium on a Thursday night is a huge feather in the Bears' cap.

Baylor gets to play Texas on the final Saturday of the regular season in Floyd Casey Stadium, which is also the final game in the venerable old facility, replacing Bedlam in Stillwater as the Big 12's de facto championship game.

The fun is that all five of the teams in this grouping -- Baylor, Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and OU -- have plusses and minuses, with Baylor having more plusses,

Texas is in good shape after the win over OU. OSU has the best schedule but has offensive issues to deal with. Tech has a rugged schedule and some lightly tested youth, while OU will need to address some newfound warts and overcome some schedule issues.

To the moral of the story, the Big 12 won't be in on the final BCS championship party but the next eight weeks are going to make for one heckuva roller coaster ride for Big 12 fans. Picking the champion today requires some pretty outstanding fortune telling ability.

Mike Gundy said after the Kansas State win that there would be a lot more of those nail-biters this season, apparently he wasn't just talking about his team. It's a league wide situation. Trick or treat everybody!

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