Big 12 officials announced Friday that the participants in next year’s football conference championship game will be the two highest-placed teams in the conference standings. The league will maintain its round-robin football schedule with no divisions.
The 10-member league is resuming its conference championship game for the first time since the 2010 season, when the league had 12 teams, in anticipation of generating an estimated $30 million for league coffers ($3 million per school). The matchup will be a guaranteed rematch of a regular-season contest and the venue for the 2017 game will be announced in the coming weeks.
Finalists to host the contest include AT&T Stadium in Arlington, the Alamodome in San Antonio and Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo.
Big 12 officials said they solicited input from league football coaches before arriving on next year’s 1-2 matchup for the title game, which will be based on conference standings and not be tied to the College Football Playoff rankings. If the football championship game had been a reality the past two seasons, the last two matchups would have been Oklahoma-Oklahoma State (last year) and TCU-Baylor (2014).
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“There are a number of advantages to matching our top two teams,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “Given our round-robin, nine-game scheduling model, it is expected the Big 12 champion will be uniquely positioned for College Football Playoff consideration. I would argue there will be no path more difficult than our champion’s.”
Beginning next season, the Big 12 football champion will play nine conference games and at least one nonconference game against a Power 5 opponent before facing a league rival in its 13th game of the season in the conference championship game.