The Big 12 schedule makers should not move the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State/Bedlam match up from late in the season.
For the fourth time since the Big 12 moved to 10 teams in 2011, Bedlam will determine the Big 12 champion. The Sooners have the edge, going 2-1 over their 3 meetings that have determined the Big 12 title. In 2011, the Cowboys won 44-10, then the Sooners won 33-24 in 2013, and last year Oklahoma rolled 58-23.
But, as we get ready for another late-season match up that will determine the Big 12 title, don’t get used to it. There have been several reports that the Big 12 is planning to move the Oklahoma-Oklahoma State game to earlier in the season, so that the two teams don’t end up playing in back-to-back weeks at the end of the season.
Why would that happen? Well, incase you forget, the Big 12 is bringing back its Championship Game next season.
Since the Big 12 elected to not go back to divisions and will just have the No. 1 vs. No. 2 teams play in the conference title game (right move), there’s no way to guarantee they won’t have a a rematch in back-to-back weeks in November and early December.
So, the Big 12 schedule makers will do their best to try and take “educated guesses”. But, the Big 12 should not bother. They should keep Bedlam on Thanksgiving Weekend (since the Big 12 title game will now be the final week of the season) and keep the rivalry in tack with the theme of “rivalry weekend”.
If Oklahoma ends up playing Kansas or Iowa State, while Michigan is playing Ohio State and Alabama is playing Auburn, the Big 12 will once again be a forgotten conference during a major college football weekend.
The biggest thing the Big 12 has been trying to avoid since moving to 10 teams is irrelevancy. While they have done their best to try and “keep up” by adding the conference title game, adding a bunch of garbage/non-rivalry games on Thanksgiving weekend would be a step back.
Ever since the Big 12 went back to ten teams, Texas has not been able to play its legendary game against Texas A&M. The Longhorns have rotated between Texas Tech and TCU that weekend. I would like to see the schedule makers pick one of those two opponents and try to build some sort of a decent rivalry for the Longhorns in the Lone Star State. It’s likely never going to be what Texas and A&M had, but the only way to get it going is to keep ’em playing on that weekend.
The longer that the teams, players and fans start identifying a certain opponent with Thanksgiving weekend, the more likely rivalries are to build, grow, and develop.
Now, if a rematch happens in the Big 12 title game the following week? Screw it. Who cares?
In fact, it would create a fascinating and unique storyline that none of the other conferences would have.
The argument that continues to develop is that if Team A beats Team B, why does Team A have to play Team B again?
Well, we act like that doesn’t happen in other conferences. That’s ridiculous! It has happened and it will continue to happen. Yes, it has happened less as the other conferences have expanded… it’s a numbers game. And sure, the Big 12 is in a situation where it will happen every year, but there is a way to spin it to make it exciting and unique.
Just imagine if Ohio State and Michigan were playing each other again this Saturday night for all the marbles? With a win, Michigan could get themselves back into the College Football Playoff picture.
If you’re that worked up over it, the way the Big 12 needs to look at it as simply this: it’s another chance at a quality win.
Right now, the Big 12 has an undefeated team in conference play, Oklahoma, and they may finish off 9-0 in the Big 12. But, going into the final weekend of the season, their chances of making the College Football Playoff are slim to none.
If they beat a Top 15 team in back-to-back weeks, even if it is the same team, isn’t that worth something? Also, since the Big 12 hasn’t gotten the production it needs from Texas to be nationally respected, and TCU and Baylor appear to have taken a step back, any chance for another big-time win should be welcomed with open arms.
Here’s how I’d play out “Rivalry Weekend” for the Big 12:
Texas-Texas Tech (public schools)
TCU-Baylor (private schools, already don’t like each other)
Iowa State-West Virginia (leftovers, sorry fellas)
Lastly, why should we believe Oklahoma and Oklahoma State will be conference-title competitors forever? Assuming Bob Stoops and Mike Gundy remain with their respective programs, the odds look good. But they won’t be there forever.
I understand Bedlam has not always been late in the season. But, it has been great for the state of Oklahoma and the fans to have it late in the season in recent years with so much on the line. To try and change rivalry weekend by playing the “guessing” and “what if” game is just not worth it.
If a rematch happens, live with it… and then sell it.