MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - When Baylor routed Oklahoma 41-12 Thursday night in Waco, Texas, it was just one of a series of late-season games that will shape the race for the Big 12 championship.
There were four teams - three now that the Sooners have fallen by the wayside - which pretty much control their own destiny in the race. Baylor and Texas are 5-0 in the league. Oklahoma State is 4-1. All still have a round robin to play with the others. Oklahoma and Texas Tech, each at 4-2, are probably on the outside looking in.
It should be interesting to watch.
"I think this will be the most exciting and fun five weeks in the history of the Big 12,'' Texas coach Mack Brown said this week. "Our league's got some huge games, not just us. A lot of people have some huge games here at the end that will make a difference in who wins the conference championship. It should be a lot of fun.''
Note that West Virginia isn't in the conversation. The Mountaineers (4-5, 2-4 Big 12) are just trying to stay afloat. They need two wins in their final three games just to become bowl eligible and not interrupt a streak of 11 years of doing so.
And while that is certainly disappointing, it is certainly not unexpected. The Mountaineers were picked to finish eighth in the 10-team league by the coaches. They are seventh right now. They have struggled offensively, defensively and on special teams this season, if not consistently then at least sporadically.
Smaller, attainable goals have become the norm.
"We're not going to win the Big 12 and we understand that,'' coach Dana Holgorsen said this week. "We just want to improve and win the next game. If we get closer to making a bowl game we'll approach that when the time comes, but we're not at that point right now.''
Well, as it turns out, the Mountaineers at least have an opportunity to affect the Big 12 race, even if they aren't a part of it. West Virginia hosts Texas (6-2, 5-0) at 7 tonight in a game that will be telecast on Fox, and a win would certainly throw a curve into that race that Brown anticipates being "a lot of fun.''