Star-Telegram writers Jimmy Burch and Stefan Stevenson sound off on the issues of the day in college football in College Confidential. Visit star-telegram.com to see the show.
The Big 12 championship will be decided in a pair of Saturday games that should have lots of drama: the Bedlam rivalry between No. 17 Oklahoma (9-2, 6-2) and No. 6 Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1), followed by No. 25 Texas (8-3, 7-1) at No. 9 Baylor (10-1, 7-1) in the final game played in Waco’s Floyd Casey Stadium. How will things shake out?
Jimmy: I like the two home teams, Oklahoma State and Baylor. Both have veteran defenses and should have the edge at quarterback. That will make the difference in the fourth quarter on a cold day, especially if forecasts for inclement weather prove correct. If OSU and Baylor win, they will share the Big 12 title. OSU will get the league champion’s berth in the Fiesta Bowl, based on a head-to-head victory between the teams, and Baylor would remain in the mix for an at-large BCS bowl berth.
Stefan: I’m leaning toward both visitors. All the pressure is on Oklahoma State and Baylor to hold serve at home. Both games should be close. If Baylor running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin are healthier than they’ve been in a few weeks, then the Bears may be just fine. But I expect Texas to play well knowing Mack Brown’s status could be riding on the outcome.
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It looks like we’re headed for one last controversial finish in the BCS era, with the hot debate centering on whether a one-loss SEC champion (No. 3 Auburn or No. 5 Missouri) is more deserving to play for the national title than undefeated No. 2 Ohio State, which has played a softer schedule as a Big Ten member. What’s your take on what we’ll see when the final two teams play for the BCS crystal football in January?
Jimmy: Unlike the SEC loyalists, I think quality football teams are eligible to come from any conference. No undefeated champion from a BCS league has been denied a title shot in the BCS era, and I’m fine with No. 1 Florida State (12-0) playing No. 2 Ohio State (12-0) if both win their league title games. But I don’t think that will happen. I think No. 10 Michigan State (11-1) knocks off Ohio State in the Big Ten championship game, creating an opportunity for the SEC champ, or even No. 4 Alabama, to play Florida State for the national title.
Stefan: It’s only fitting that we have another season of controversy in the final year of the BCS format before we go to a four-team playoff next year. I agree, Jimmy. You can’t keep Ohio State or Florida State out of the title game if they’re undefeated. I also agree the Spartans have a great shot at beating Ohio State. If Alabama jumps back into the national title picture with its loss to Auburn — and I don’t think anyone questions whether the Tide could beat anyone else in the championship — it’s exactly one of the reasons we have a playoff next year.
A TCU season that began with thoughts of a Big 12 title ended with a 4-8 record. It will be TCU’s first season without a bowl appearance since 2004. Where must the Horned Frogs make adjustments to rebound in 2014?
Jimmy: Job No. 1 is finding a way to create more consistency and more big plays on offense. Whether that is through coaching changes, schematic changes or off-season improvement with returning players, it must occur for TCU to get back to its winning ways in 2014. Based on recent reports, it sounds like all three options are in play.
Stefan: As we reported earlier this week, TCU is expected to hire Houston offensive coordinator Doug Meacham, who grew up in Arlington. It could be official by today. That’s a good start. But TCU also needs to find someone to play quarterback in 2014. Two talented recruits — All Saints’ Foster Sawyer and Decatur’s Grayson Muehlstein — are headed to TCU, but can they beat out Tyler Matthews, who will be a sophomore next season, for the starting job?