Whichever team wins the Big 12 Championship Game on Saturday will have a shot at making the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma is aiming for a fourth straight Big 12 title (and 10th overall since the conference went to this format) while Baylor is making its first-ever appearance in the conference championship game.
Ten years ago, Baylor having a shot at the national championship in November seemed unfathomable and nowhere was this clearer than in its annual contest with the Sooners. While this "rivalry" has become more competitive, it has been one-sided and full of blowouts. Here are five games that were close, including this year's game.
5. Oklahoma 28, Baylor 24
Waco, Texas — Oct. 19, 1996
Both schools had previously played each other five times, but this game marked the first annual contest in the inaugural season of the Big 12 conference. The Bears were leading 21-7 in the second quarter, but then imploded. First, they allowed Oklahoma to score on a 65-yard touchdown drive at the end of the first half. Then in the second half, they turned the ball over twice and the Sooners converted both mistakes into touchdowns. The Bears were only able to muster a field goal as the game slipped through their fingers. Each team would only win one more game the entire season, as Baylor finished 4-7 and OU finished 3-8.
4. Oklahoma 24, Baylor 23
Norman, Okla. — Oct. 18, 1997
The rematch the following year produced more of the same. Both schools were in the midst of losing seasons. Once again, Baylor led at halftime, and once again, the Sooners came back to take the lead in the fourth quarter. This time, however, Baylor scored a touchdown in the game’s final minutes to pull within one point of Oklahoma. Instead of kicking the extra point to send the game into overtime, Baylor head coach Dave Roberts opted to go for two and the win. Quarterback Jeff Watson took the snap and threw a pass to Derrius Thompson, but the Sooners’ Terry White intercepted it. Baylor attempted the onside kick, but Oklahoma recovered and secured the win.
3. Oklahoma 37, Baylor 30 (2 OT)
Norman, Okla. — Oct. 22, 2005
After playing for the national title the year before, Oklahoma started the season with three losses in its first five games. Meanwhile, Baylor started the season 4-2 and, with the Sooners missing its top two running backs in Adrian Peterson (sprained ankle) and Kejuan Jones (suspended), its first win over OU seemed possible. The Bears scored first but missed the extra point. The Sooners then scored 17 points in the second quarter, with touchdown runs by Jacob Gutierrez and Rhett Bomar and a 32-yard field goal from Garrett Hartley. On the ensuing kickoff, Baylor’s Shaun Rochon broke free for a 98-yard return to make the score 17-13. The Sooners then added another touchdown to take a 24-13 lead at halftime. Baylor quarterback Shawn Bell hit Rochon with a seven-yard touchdown pass to close the gap to 24-19, but the Bears failed on the two-point conversion. OU extended its lead with another field goal in the fourth and was driving deep into Baylor territory when Gutierrez fumbled and the Bears recovered on their 18-yard line with 2:39 to go. Bell then hit Dominique Zeigler with a 55-yard touchdown pass and then ran into the end zone for the two-point conversion to tie the game. The two teams traded field goals in the first overtime, but in the second, Bomar hit Juaquin Iglesias with a 21-yard touchdown pass to put the Sooners up 37-30. Baylor was unable to convert on its next possession and the Oklahoma faithful breathed a sigh of relief.
2. Oklahoma 34, Baylor 31
Waco, Texas — November 16, 2019
Baylor jumped out to a 28-3 second-quarter lead and led 31-10 at halftime. Then the Sooners stymied the Bears' offense in the second half and quarterback Jalen Hurts tied the game at 31-31 with his fourth touchdown pass of the game with a little over five minutes to go. OU's Gabe Brkic booted a 31-yard field goal with 1:45 left in the game and the Sooners held on, thus setting the stage for Saturday's rematch.
1. Baylor 45, Oklahoma 38
Waco, Texas — Nov. 19, 2011
Baylor had never beaten Oklahoma – having lost 20 straight games to the Sooners –but Robert Griffin III and the rest of the Bears finally ended that streak. RGIII amassed 551 yards in a game that saw five lead changes and produced more than 1,200 yards of total offense. In the second quarter, RGIII hit Tevin Reese with a 69-yard touchdown pass to put Baylor up 17-10 at halftime. However, Oklahoma — as it had done many times during this series — roared back in the third quarter, scoring two touchdowns to take a 24-17 lead. Then it was Baylor’s turn. RGIII threw two more scores, including an 87-yard touchdown pass that was tipped into Kendall Wright’s hands, and Terrance Ganaway ran for another as the Bears scored 21 unanswered points to take a 38-24 lead in the fourth quarter. Oklahoma responded with two rushing touchdowns by Blake Bell, including the tying score with 51 seconds left. Baylor got the ball back on its own 20-yard line and moved the ball to Oklahoma’s 34 in four plays. With 16 seconds left, RGIII took the snap, scrambled to his left and found Terrance Williams in the end zone for the game-winning score. In addition to breaking the streak, the win over fifth-ranked Oklahoma was Baylor’s first victory over a top-five team since 1985.
— Written by Aaron Tallent, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Tallent is a writer whose articles have appeared in The Sweet Science, FOX Sports’ Outkick the Coverage, Liberty Island and The Washington Post. Follow him on Twitter at @AaronTallent.