Back in the year 2000, Bob Stoops and Josh Heupel led the Oklahoma Sooners to their first Big 12 Championship appearance. Following a hard-fought victory over Kansas State, the conference title game would (for the most part) continue to be kind to the Oklahoma program. In the 11 seasons from 2000-2010, the Sooners would appear in the game a total of eight times and would win seven of those contests. A trip to the Big 12 Championship game was becoming a tradition for Oklahoma and its fans, but conference realignment took it away from them. It returns in 2017 to mixed feelings at best and won’t do much — or anything — to help Oklahoma this season.
Anyway, OU fans will at least have some cool moments to cherish if the Sooners win. Before we discuss TCU, let’s take a look back at OU’s part appearances in the Big 12 Championship:
No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 8 Kansas State in Kansas City - Dec. 2, 2000
Oklahoma’s first Big 12 Championship was the greatest of them all in terms of both on-field drama and future implications. OU had defeated a third-ranked K-State team in Manhattan by a score of 41-31, but the Wildcats were definitely good enough to spoil OU’s perfect season. They came pretty close to accomplishing that goal, but clutch play from Josh Heupel and Trent Smith kept the train rolling to Miami.
No. 8 Oklahoma vs. No. 12 Colorado in Houston - Dec. 7, 2002
Oklahoma reached the title game in 2002 despite losing to Oklahoma State for the second year in a row. OU again was faced with a rematch, this time against a solid Colorado team. This one will be remembered for what went down between OU QB Nate Hybl and some local radio personalities more than anything else.
No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 15 Kansas State in Kansas City - Dec. 6, 2003
The actual result of this game proved inconsequential, but Jason White suffered an injury that would put Oklahoma behind the eight ball in the BCS Championship Game.
Darren Sproles is still running.
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. Colorado in Kansas City - Dec. 4, 2004
This was pretty much at the height of the talent gap between the Big 12’s North and South divisions, and the final score of 42-3 in favor of Oklahoma reflected that. Oklahoma out-gained Colorado 498-46 en route to its second consecutive appearance in the BCS Championship Game.
No. 12 Oklahoma vs. No. 20 Nebraska in Kansas City - Dec. 2, 2006
Oklahoma needed Texas to fall to Texas A&M in order to get into this game. It actually happened, which set up the first OU-Nebraska Championship matchup. Oklahoma came out on top by a score of 21-7.
The most memorable moment of this game for Oklahoma came on 3rd and 10 on its own one-foot line with just under four minutes remaining in the 3rd quarter, as Paul Thompson faked a handoff and hit Jermaine Gresham for a 35-yard gain. OU would march over 99 yards on that drive to essentially put the game away.
No. 9 Oklahoma vs. No. 1 Missouri in San Antonio - Dec. 1, 2007
2007 was easily the weirdest college football season of my lifetime and perhaps the weirdest of the modern era. Coming into “championship week”, Missouri was No. 1 and West Virginia was No. 2. Kansas — yes, Kansas — had made it all the way up to the No. 2 spot before losing to then-No. 3 Missouri in the last game of the regular season. Even USF had reached the No. 2 spot earlier in the season, and all of that just scratches the surface of what went down that year.
Anyway, Dec. 1 was the most memorable night. Oklahoma was a championship-caliber team that had been struck by bad luck and used the Big 12 Championship game as an opportunity to expose the pretenders and won by a score of 38-17. West Virginia also lost that evening, so America ended up with LSU and Ohio State — both of whom lost in the last week of the regular season — in the BCS Championship Game.
No. 2 Oklahoma vs. No. 20 Missouri in Kansas City - Dec. 6, 2008
Chase Daniel and Missouri entered the game at Arrowhead coming off a loss to the Kansas Jayhawks in the same venue seven days earlier. They would run into a historically dominant offense that had scored 60-plus points in four consecutive games. Sam Bradford and the Sooners would make it a fifth with a 62-21 W.
No. 9 Oklahoma vs. No. 13 Nebraska in Arlington - Dec. 4, 2010
The final two Big 12 Championship games (or so we thought at the time) fittingly matched up Texas and Nebraska in 2009 followed by Oklahoma and Nebraska in 2010. These were the matchups that the league’s original leaders envisioned when the Texas schools merged with the Big Eight schools in the mid 90s, and neither game disappointed.
In 2010, a 10-2 Oklahoma team, which had lost a pair of head-scratchers on the road, was coming off a dramatic win in Stillwater and was riding a tidal wave of momentum into Arlington. Meanwhile, Nebraska quarterback Taylor Martinez (remember him?) came into the game with a nagging leg injury suffered against Missouri about a month prior. With Martinez’s mobility somewhat limited, Oklahoma appeared to be a safe pick to win this one.
However, Nebraska came out swinging and built a 17-0 lead by the 12:14 mark of the second quarter. Kevin Wilson’s offense then started to click and quickly tied the game with just over a minute remaining in the half. Nebraska then answered with a field goal before halftime, but the game was on at that point.
Oklahoma was in firm control in the second half but was never able to find the end zone. However, two field goals would end up being just enough to send Nebraska out of the conference with a loss.
Now, on to this season’s game...
Keys to the Game
Young secondary players need to step up once again - Tre Norwood and Tre Brown did a nice job against TCU back on Nov. 11, but we don’t exactly have much to gauge their improvement since that game. The conditions in Kansas weren’t exactly conducive to success through the air, and West Virginia didn’t have its QB last week. I will say that those guys — along with Parnell Motley, who has started the two games since then — have looked perfectly fine for the most part. However, those guys will need to pass the test once again. Kenny Hill isn’t exactly a world-beater, but he’s good enough to make guys pay if assignments are busted and mistakes are made.
The running game - Rodney Anderson has been the best back in the country since his heroics in Manhattan on Oct. 21. Trey Sermon has been Mr. Reliable in a number of situations and has proven to be mature beyond his years. Above all, this offensive line has been nothing short of superb all season long — no matter what the Joe Moore Award people think.
However, this TCU front seven, which is one of the best in the country, is going to have revenge on its mind this Saturday after allowing 200 yards rushing last time around. OU had to work pretty hard to get those yards last time around and I wouldn’t expect it to be any easier in Arlington. If it is easier, OU will win this game, but if OU has trouble establishing the run we could be in for a tight one.
College Football Gambling Predictions
Stanford vs. USC (-3.5) - I keep hearing praise for how improved USC seems to be, but who have they played since being drubbed by Notre Dame? They beat a mediocre Arizona State team that is now coach-less, barely squeaked by Arizona and its one-man show, played okay against Colorado in Boulder and narrowly escaped defeat against a 6-6 UCLA team. Stanford, meanwhile, has defeated Notre Dame and Washington since losing a close one to Washington State in Pullman. Bryce Love is back to full strength or is at least close to it, so I like the Cardinal tonight. Gambling pick: Stanford beats the spread and gets a W in Santa Clara. Under 58.5
TCU vs. Oklahoma (-7) - I think OU has a great chance to check off the two boxes mentioned above in my keys to the game. On top of that, I don’t see Kenny Hill being able to do enough to match Baker Mayfield even if OU struggles in those areas. Gambling pick: Oklahoma covers with a 34-24 win en route to a spot in the College Football Playoff. Under 63.5
Georgia vs. Auburn (-1) - How many of you watched the Auburn-Georgia game back on Nov. 11? I know it was played at Auburn, but did Georgia ever look like a team that stood a chance? Auburn is just clicking right now. However, I don’t expect to see Georgia dominated up front again like it did last time. Even still, Auburn has a major advantage at the QB position and in the passing game in general. Gambling pick: Auburn wins by one score, which is obviously enough to cover. Over 47.5
Miami vs. Clemson (-9.5) - Neither of these quarterbacks are particularly spectacular and will be facing very strong defenses, so I don;t picture a lot of scoring here. I’ll give Clemson the edge due to a better run game and a slightly better defense. Gambling pick: Clemson wins the game, but Miami beats the spread with a late touchdown. Under 46.5
Ohio State (-6) vs. Wisconsin - This is a pretty tough one to read since Wisconsin hasn’t actually played anyone this season. Ohio State clearly has more talent, but Wisconsin is incredibly disciplined and plays with a serious edge defensively. That defense, however, has been facing vanilla offenses all year, so it’ll be interesting to see how that defensive unit does against a Kevin Wilson offense. One major variable involves the health of JT Barrett, whose status won’t be determined (at least publicly) until game day. Even if he’s out, Dwayne Haskins is an exceptionally talented guy who could do just as well for the Buckeyes. Gambling pick: Ohio State blows the Badgers out of the water, exposing them for what they are. Under 51
Note: The times listed below are actually ET, not PT.
Friday TV Schedule
|#12 Stanford vs. #10 USC||8:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
Saturday TV Schedule
|#20 Memphis at #14 UCF||12:00 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|Akron vs. Toledo||12:00 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|North Texas at Florida Atlantic||12:00 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|UMass at Florida Intl||12:00 PM||None||CUSA.tv|
|Louisiana Monroe at Florida State||12:00 PM||ACC Network||WatchESPN.com|
|#11 TCU vs. #3 Oklahoma||12:30 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|
|Georgia Southern at Coastal Carolina||1:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Idaho at Georgia State||2:00 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Louisiana at Appalachian State||2:30 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|#6 Georgia vs. #2 Auburn||4:00 PM||CBS||CBSSports.com|
|South Alabama at New Mexico State||4:30 PM||None||WatchESPN.com|
|Troy at Arkansas State||7:30 PM||ESPN2||WatchESPN.com|
|#25 Fresno State at Boise State||7:45 PM||ESPN||WatchESPN.com|
|#7 Miami vs. #1 Clemson||8:00 PM||ABC||WatchESPN.com|
|#8 Ohio State vs. #4 Wisconsin||8:00 PM||FOX||FoxSportsGo.com|