After having put it on the shelf when the conference was reshuffled after 2010, the Big 12 Championship is here once again and with it comes the drama that accompanies possible upsets.
Given the current makeup of the league, a rematch in the title game every year are now guaranteed. The Oklahoma Sooners find themselves in a position similar to that of six other Big 12 teams: to win the championship, they’ve got to beat a team twice.
They’re of course favored to beat the TCU Horned Frogs, a relative newcomer to the Big 12 conference who will play in their first Big 12 championship.
In this jaunt down memory lane, we look at the ways that the history of the Big 12 Championship should provide both TCU and Oklahoma reasons for hope in this game.
Why History Favors TCU
The history of the game doesn’t necessarily bode well for teams hoping to win a national championship. While there is certainly a history of teams using the Big 12 Championship as a launching pad into bigger things, this game has also seen its history of upsets for national championship hopefuls.
In 1998, Bill Snyder’s Wildcats needed only to beat the Texas A&M Aggies in order to secure a spot in the National Championship.
Things looked good as Kansas State held a 27-12 lead going into the fourth quarter. That, however, was when things started turn.
Behind a backup quarterback, A&M would manage to tie the game at 27-27 to send it into overtime. Aggie running back Sirr Parker would go on to win the game in overtime with a touchdown reception on third down and 17.
Two years later, the conference title game featured a rematch between the No. 5 Texas Longhorns and No. 9 Colorado Buffaloes. The game in Austin earlier that season had been a runaway victor for Texas, who won handily 41-7.
Minutes before the game rematch was to start, Texas learned that a loss by No. 2 Florida meant all they had to do was win and they would play in the BCS National Championship.
Texas Quarterback Chris Simms threw three interceptions, putting the Longhorns in a hole just too deep to climb out of and they fell 37-39.
Of course in 2003, the Oklahoma Sooners faced off against the No. 13 Kansas State Wildcats and suffered a loss by a score of 35-7.
That game didn’t prevent them from being able to play in the national championship, but that kind of score differential should mean that TCU fans should are encouraged by this history of upsets.
Why History Favors The Sooners
As the favorite, the Sooners should definitely be mindful of not only this history of upsets, but of close call wins as well.
In 2009, No. 3 Texas needed a replay and last second field to beat Nebraska and get to the national championship against Alabama.
In their last national title-winning season, the Sooners themselves found themselves down 10-3 to the eighth-ranked Kansas State in the 2000 championship before rallying to win by a field goal.
Of course, Sooner fans should certainly take heart in the fact that teams which have reached a national championship also had big games in the Big 12’s title contest.
In 2004 and 2005, national title contenders and Big 12 champions Texas and Oklahoma combined to win the conference title game 112-6.
The last time the Sooners played for a spot in the national title game they had a big win, beating the No.19 Missouri Tigers 62-21 in 2008. That game featured multiple players who are now in the NFL.
Oklahoma currently has more Big 12 titles than other team in the conference, a fact that almost goes without needing to be said.
The Sooners have seven championship trophies and they’ve won four out of the last five. Even though head coach Lincoln Riley is new to this game, coaches on his own staff have experience preparing for conference championships.
It’s probably also worth mentioning that the only teams able to win the Big 12 Championship who are still in the conference and not named Oklahoma are Texas and Kansas State, neither of whom have really played championship-level football since the end of the title game.
The same can’t be said for the Sooners, who are a touchdown favorite on Saturday. All in all, even though Oklahoma can look to the history of conference championships to see favorites who’ve tripped up, teams favored to win this game have done so more often than not.