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Key Big 12 losses leave skeptics questioning conference+s powers

Sept. 25, 1996

Key Big 12 losses leave skeptics questioning conference's power

By Wade A. Barrow

Lariat Sports Reporter

Most teams in the nation are almost finished with non-conference play, and one thing has been evident. The Big 12 is not so big.

Every weekend since Texas A&M lost 41-37 to BYU, The Big 12 has failed to win the big game. As a matter of fact, the Big 12 is 0-5 against ranked opponents. This leads to the question: Is the Big 12 big time, or big hype?

In preseason polls the Big 12 figured to have three national title contenders in Colorado, Nebraska, and Texas. All three have suffered early setbacks. Surprisingly, of the five losses to ranked teams, four of them were registered by the 'Big Four': Colorado, Nebraska, Texas, and Texas A&M. Perhaps even more humiliating is the fact that the Big 12 has a losing record against those pass-happy renegades in the WAC.

In one of the greatest shockers in recent history, the Arizona State Sun Devils upset the two-time defending National Champion Nebraska Cornhuskers. The Sun Devils did not just squeak by either. They physically beat the Huskers in every facet of the game, registering an amazing three safeties.

On September 14 Colorado came a Hail Mary away from beating the Michigan Wolverines for the second consecutive time. Still, Colorado played inconsistently and allowed the Wolverines to grab a very important 20-13 win.

Texas lost to Notre Dame again.

The Longhorns have failed to beat the Irish since the 1969 Cotton Bowl when Texas won the National Championship. This time, as usual, it was a game the Longhorns could have and should have won. Notre Dame used the last 10 minutes of the game to pull out a 27-24 win. Texas has a chance to redeem themselves against 19th-ranked Virginia in two weeks.

So how good is a conference with an 0-5 record against ranked teams and a losing record against the WAC? The best answer is, very good.

The Big 12 is still the best conference from top to bottom. The conference still has a non-conference record of 18-11 with a particular strength in depth.

Teams such as Baylor, Texas Tech, Kansas, and Kansas State can make a run for the title at any time.

Like the Southeastern Conference, there are no pushovers on the conference schedule.

The Big 12 is guaranteed bowl bids to the top six teams, granted they meet the criteria for minimum number of wins. It is also presumptuous to count Nebraska and Colorado out of the National title picture. As Bobby Bowden has said, it is unlikely that there will be two undefeated teams this year. No one with one loss is necessarily out of it.

It is early in the season and the national title is not likely to be decided in the Rose Bowl, so don't be surprised if a Big 12 team ends up playing for the title in the Sugar Bowl on Jan. 1.

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