What are the most important, must-see Big 12 match-ups of the second half?
by Braden Gall (@AthlonBraden on twitter)
The the midway point of the 2011 college football in the rearview mirror, so Athlon Sports takes a look at the top must-see games left on the Big 12 slate.
1. Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State (Week 14)
Dec. 3, All-Time Series: Oklahoma leads 81-17-7
Dan Beebe and the Big 12 had to highlight one game on Championship Saturday after losing its title game and The Bedlam Series was an easy choice. Not only will in-state bragging rights be on the line for the 105th time, but the Big 12 title – and potential BCS National Championship – could be at stake as well. Oklahoma State appears to be the prime contender to Oklahoma in the league and will have a chance to prove it on the final weekend of the regular season. The Sooners have won eight straight in the series including last year’s 47-41 that featured 967 yards of total offense and 725 combined passing yards. Landry Jones and Brandon Weeden combined for 105 pass attempts, six touchdowns and six interceptions. Fans can expect fireworks once again from the Bedlam Series.
Athlon’s Prediction: Sooners by 3
2. Texas vs. Texas A&M (Week 13)
Nov. 24, All-Time Series: 75-37-5
These two bitter rivals have only upped the ante with Texas A&M’s move to the SEC. The Aggies hate the Longhorns for a variety of reasons – not the least of which has been on the field domination by the Horns. Texas has won eight of the last 11 meetings, but TAMU currently holds the bragging rights with a 24-17 win last fall to go with three wins in the last five match-ups over Big Brother. Aggie fans still have Big 12 title hopes while Texas fans are reeling after two losses to the Sooner State. If Texas rebounds quickly and the Aggies can stay the course, the Lone Star Showdown could carry more weight than just eternal conference bragging rights. Otherwise, this will be a Turkey Day hangover game filled with nothing but Aggie one-liners and Burnt Orange hatred.
Athlon’s Prediction: Aggies by 7
3. Texas A&M vs. Oklahoma (Week 10)
Nov. 5, All-Time Series: Oklahoma leads 18-11
Crimson and Cream faithful certainly have this one circled on the calendar this fall. Not only is Texas A&M is still one of the top contenders to the Sooners’ title hopes, but they also are programa non grata in the Big 12 and upset OU in last year’s bout. The Aggies entered the fourth quarter with a narrow 19-17 lead before two big play touchdowns from Cyrus Gray and Ryan Swope broke open the game. Landry Jones was sacked four times as the Sooners were held in check on the ground. TAMU held Oklahoma to 72 yards rushing on 44 carries. Without Von Miller, the game moves to Norman with revenge on the mind of Bob Stoops.
Athlon’s Prediction: Sooners by 10
4. Oklahoma vs. Kansas State (Week 9)
Oct. 29, All-Time Series: Oklahoma leads 70-17-4
Six of the 17 all-time series wins by the Wildcats have come with Bill Snyder at the helm (6-9 overall), including the 35-7 Big 12 title game rout in 2003 - and you can bet Bob Stoops still has nightmares about No. 43. The Sooners have done everything asked of them thus far as they march towards a potential Big 12 and National Championship. However, Kansas State has beaten the likes of Miami, Baylor, Missouri and Texas Tech over the last month and boasts the league's No. 2 scoring defense. Ty Zimmerman, Arthur Brown and Meshak Williams will have to be at thier best if they expect to pull the upset.
Athlon's Prediction: Sooners by 10
5. Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State (Week 10)
Nov. 5, All-Time Series: Oklahoma State leads 35-22
From 1990 to 2002, Oklahoma State got completely shutout by Bill Snyder (9-0). But since then, the Pokes have won three out of four and the last two in Stillwater. However, those two losses were by a combined six points and KSU averaged 36.5 points per game. Okie State boasts a tremendous offense, maybe the best in the nation, but the defense has had its issues - it's ranked 100th nationally in total defense. The Wildcats will be coming off of a battle with Oklahoma the week before, and if they somehow upset the Sooners, this game takes on added importance. If Kansas State cannot beat Oklahoma, it could be a long two weeks for Wildcats fans.
Athlon's Prediction: Oklahoma State by 14
6. Baylor vs. Oklahoma State (Week 9)
Oct. 29, All-Time Series: Oklahoma State leads 17-12
This one belongs on the list for pure enjoyment factor alone. Robert Griffin III and Brandon Weeden will put on a light show that rivals late night at Bonnaroo. The Pokes have won 14 of the last 15 and the last time Baylor won in Stillwater, our troops were still five years from landing at Normandy (13-0, 1939). The Bears defense will have to play the game of its life as they have allowed 52.8 points per game in their last six trips to Okie State. The Pokes defense isn't much better, so expect big numbers from both offenses in this one.
Athlon's Prediction: Oklahoma State by 10
7. Texas A&M vs. Kansas State (Week 11)
Nov. 12, All-Time Series: TAMU leads 8-6
The Wildcats have won two straight in this series and have done so in convincing fashion, 62-14 in 2009 and 44-30 in 2008. The Aggies righted the ship with back-to-back wins over explosive offenses in Texas Tech and Baylor and have kept their Big 12 title hopes alive. Obviously, there are other key games left for both teams before they meet, but this mid-November trip to Manhattan should be plenty entertaining - if Kansas State has anything left in tank after facing the Sooners and Pokes the two weeks prior to hosting the Aggies.
Athlon's Prediction: Kansas State by 1
8. Oklahoma State vs. Missouri (Week 8)
Oct. 22, All-Time Series: Okie State leads 28-22
These two Big 12 programs have played only twice since 2005, both of which went the way of the Pokes. Oklahoma State is eyeing a conference title while the Tigers are scratching to get into a bowl game after playing a brutal schedule in the first half. This game will feature two of the more exciting quarterbacks in Brandon Weeden and James Franklin. The Pokes have a clear experience edge on offense while Mizzou is once again strong on defense (No. 2 in the Big 12). Can Missouri slow the high-powered Cowboy attack? Can new quarterback Franklin move the ball enough to keep pace with OSU? A road trip to Columbia is never an easy task and the Pokes will need to be on serious upset alert this weekend.
Athlon’s Prediction: Cowboys by 10
9. Oklahoma at Baylor (Week 12)
Nov. 19, All-Time Series: Oklahoma leads 20-0
Baylor has never beaten the Sooners...ever. In fact, only three times has Baylor even kept the game within double-digits: Lost by four in 1996, one in 1997, and the last close contest was decided by seven in 2005. Robert Griffin III will have to be at his best and the defense will have to get key stops against Landry Jones and company if they expect to get the win. The home crowd will help, but turnovers and mistakes will have to bounce the way of the Bears in order to topple Boomer Sooner for the first time in school history.
Athlon's Prediction: Oklahoma by 14
10. Texas at Baylor (Week 14)
Dec. 3, All-Time Series: Texas leads 73-23-4
Last year's 30-22 win by Baylor was the first win for the Bears in this series since 1997. Baylor had lost 12 straight before the big upset in Austin last season. The game shifts to Waco this fall, and judging by the way the Longhorns played defense against Landry Jones (367 yards, 3 TD, 55 pts) and Brandon Weeden (218 yards, TD, 38 pts), Robert Griffin III could have a field day against the Burnt Orange. Bowl eligibility could also be on the line in what will be the final game of the regular season for both.
Athlon's Prediction: Baylor by 1