2003 Big 12 Championship Game
Oklahoma waltzed in having completed a 12-0 regular season, walloping opponents by more than 35 points per game. Yet in the title game, the Sooners were stunned by Kansas State, 35-7 -- and played for the national title anyway. Thus the uproar: How can a team that didn't win its own conference championship play for the national championship?
2002 Big Ten Regular Season Race
Here's an example when a conference title game might have been useful. Iowa lost a nonconference game to Iowa State on Sept. 14 -- but won the rest, including going 8-0 in the Big Ten. Ohio State won all 13 of its regular season games. But the two teams didn't face each other. Thus, OSU, which finished second in the BCS rankings, faced Miami for the national title, while Iowa was left to lose to USC in the Orange Bowl.
2001 Big 12 Championship Game
Nebraska lost to Colorado by 26 points on the last week of the regular season, thus allowing the Buffaloes to play in the Big 12 title game, which they won to advance to the BCS. Funny thing, though: The Cornhuskers ended up ranked No. 2 in the BCS poll, behind Miami and ahead of Colorado. Thus, Nebraska -- which didn't even qualify to play for its conference championship -- had a shot to win the national title. No go, though: Miami 37, Nebraska 14.
1998 Big 12 Championship Game
Unbeaten Kansas State had heard all about how its pathetic nonconference schedule (wins over Indiana State, Northern Illinois and Louisiana-Monroe by the combined score of 201-14) would freeze it out of the BCS title game. But earlier on the day of the Big 12 championship, Miami upset previously unbeaten UCLA -- opening the door for the Wildcats. So what happened that night? K-State lost its first game of the season, 36-33, in double overtime to Texas A&M. Florida State filled the vacant spot in the BCS championship game, where it lost to Tennessee.