Not that long ago, Big 12 Conference officials looked forward to the monetary windfall that would accompany sending two teams to Bowl Championship Series bowls. Then Oklahoma lost, 30-26, to Texas A&M on Nov. 9 and Texas fell, 42-38, to Texas Tech on Saturday. Now conference officials are faced with the possibility of Colorado (8-3) playing Texas Tech (8-4) in the Big 12 title game on Dec. 7 in Houston and only one team earning a BCS at-large invitation.
Late-season stumbles by Oklahoma and Texas aside, the Big 12 Conference race has become something to watch. Colorado, the defending champion, started the season by losing to Colorado State, was routed by Southern California and had its starting quarterback withdraw from school because of concussions. The Buffaloes went from No. 7 in the Associated Press poll to the "others receiving votes" category.
But behind the nation's leading rusher, Chris Brown, No. 16 Colorado has won seven of its last eight games and clinched the Big 12 North Division title with a 41-27 victory over Iowa State on Saturday. The Buffaloes will meet the winner of Texas Tech-Oklahoma for the Big 12 championship.
After watching what the Red Raiders did to the Longhorns' vaunted defense, Oklahoma cannot be too eager to face Texas Tech next weekend. Texas's defense started Saturday ranked No. 5 in Division I-A, allowing just 261 yards per game. But Texas Tech, behind the wizardry of quarterback Kliff Kingsbury, gained 306 yards by halftime and 606 total yards.
Kingsbury, who completed 38 of 60 passes for 473 yards and six touchdowns, moved into fourth place in Division I-A record books with 11,831 career passing yards.
Meantime, Nebraska's 49-13 loss to Kansas State ensured the Cornhuskers (7-5, 3-4 Big 12) their first non-winning conference record since 1968. Their five regular season losses are the most since 1961.
Because Alabama has been banned from bowl participation, the Crimson Tide cannot win the Southeastern Conference Western Division title. Nevertheless, it looks like they are the best team in the division.
Alabama (9-2, 6-1) beat LSU, 26-0, the Tigers' first shutout loss since 1996. It was LSU's most lopsided shutout loss since a 35-0 defeat to Oklahoma in the 1950 Sugar Bowl. However, the Tigers (7-3, 4-2) still can win the SEC Western title if they beat Mississippi and Arkansas. . . .
Unfazed by four defensive linemen caught applying nonstick cooking spray to their uniforms, Sacramento State defeated Weber State, 41-38. . . .
Washington quarterback Cody Pickett set the Pacific-10 single-season passing record in the Huskies' 42-14 win over Oregon. Pickett has thrown for 3,818 yards this season, surpassing former Washington State quarterback Ryan Leaf's mark of 3,637 yards. Pickett also helped Washington (6-5) avoid its first losing season since 1976. Oregon (7-4) has lost four of its last five after starting 6-0. . . .
Despite Nate Burleson's impressive performance -- 14 catches for 207 yards -- Nevada lost to Fresno State, 38-30. Burleson, who leads Division I-A in receptions with 131, needs 12 catches against Boise State next week to break the Division I-A record for receptions held by Houston's Manny Hazard. . . .
Colorado State, which had not played since Halloween night, showed little rust from its layoff. The Rams scored on four of their first five drives to defeat San Diego State, 49-21. . . .
New Mexico snapped its 14-game losing streak in Provo, Utah, by defeating BYU, 20-16. It was the Lobos' first road win against the Cougars since 1971, when Coach Rocky Long was the team's quarterback.
A Tough Season
Tennessee sophomore wide receiver Kelley Washington will undergo surgery Tuesday to fuse two vertebrae in his neck.
Washington (Sherando High), who led the Volunteers last season with 64 catches for 1,010 yards and five touchdowns, nearly entered the NFL draft last winter. He missed the first two games of the season this year with a sprained right knee and has not played since Oct. 12, when he suffered the neck injury.