Will New Big 12 Rivalries Overtake Old Ones?
By Steve Pipps
The Big 12 is known for classic rivalries that fans anticipate every season. Since realignment of the conference, several of those rivalries have changed, leaving some people still wondering which games will take their place. As the cliché goes: Out with the old and in with the new.
Gone, Gone And Gone
Two of the best pre-realignment rivalries were Oklahoma-Nebraska and Texas-Texas A&M. These were by no means the only ones the conference had to offer, but they were two of the most anticipated and are among the most missed.
Oklahoma and Nebraska met 86 times from 1912 to 2010. The final meeting was in the Big 12 Conference championship game at the end of the 2010 season, which Oklahoma won. These two teams have had historic games such as The Game of the Century in 1971. It pitted No. 1 Nebraska vs. No. 2 Oklahoma in Norman, Okla. Cornhuskers coach Bob Devaney had his player's meals flown in from Nebraska for fear of gamblers attempting to "induce a hotel chef to give the Huskers food poisoning."
The rivalry was a staple in the Big Eight Conference. Nebraska upset Oklahoma in 1959 ending Oklahoma's 74-game conference win streak. The game was featured on Thanksgiving Day for years and Oklahoma has a win margin of only seven games all-time. The rivalry began to lose some of its luster when the Big 12 was formed and divisions separated these two teams to uphold the Texas-Oklahoma rivalry. Both teams have agreed to meet in Norman in 2021 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of The Game of the Century.
Texas was part of another fierce rivalry with Texas A&M. The in-state teams have played 118 games dating back to 1894. The Longhorns have the advantage 76-37-5 all-time. These teams met every year from 1915 to 2011 when Texas A&M left for the SEC. After the Aggies departure, fans have pushed for the rivalry to continue, but coaches and directors for both teams seem to have no interest in continuing the matchup.
In 2013, Texas state legislator Ryan Guillen filed a bill that would require the two teams to play each other on a yearly basis. The punishment for not playing would be restrictions on athletic scholarships. Nothing has changed, but fans still hope to see another matchup between these two teams soon.
The Big 12 still features a few great rivalries, including the one that helped deflect the loss of Nebraska-Oklahoma. Texas and Oklahoma have faced each other 108 times in what is now called the Red River Showdown. The name was changed from the Red River Shootout because of the connection to gun violence.
Since the first matchup in 1900, the series has been peppered with classic games. In 2000, Oklahoma won by the largest margin in the history of the rivalry at the time, 63-14. Oklahoma went on to win the national championship that season. The Sooners would later top that margin of victory in 2003 with a 65-13 win. In 2005, No. 2 Texas defeated unranked Oklahoma, 45-12, on its way to a national championship.
Last season, Case McCoy led Texas to an upset victory over Oklahoma. This was Texas’ first win since 2009 when Case’s brother Colt McCoy defeated OU. In 2005, the Dallas Morning News, with the help of 119 Division I coaches, called the Red River Showdown the third-best rivalry in college football behind Ohio State-Michigan and Navy-Army. Texas leads the series 60-43-5.
Kansas-Kansas State is another staple rivalry in the Big 12. With 111 meetings thus far, it is the longest-running rivalry in the conference. Kansas leads the series 64-41-5 despite only winning five games since 1990. These two teams faced each other in a number of memorable games, including "The Toilet Bowl" in 1987. That season Kansas State was 0-8 while Kansas was 1-7. The game ended in a 17-17 tie.
1995 marked the first time these teams met while both were ranked. Kansas was No. 6 and Kansas State was No. 14. Kansas State won handily, 41-7, and both teams finished the season ranked in the Top 10. This might be the year Kansas is back in the win column. Charlie Weis is looking to turn Kansas around and overtake Kansas State coach Bill Snyder's strong recruiting class.
The Big 12's Best New Rivalry
Some fans make the argument that the best "new" rivalry in the Big 12 is Oklahoma-Oklahoma State. The matchup has become much more exciting as the Cowboys have risen to prominence. The last four seasons featured last-minute heroics and Big 12 title implications.
Even with these anxiety-filled games, these two teams can’t be the "new" rivalry of the Big 12. That’s because this rivalry is not new. Oklahoma leads the series 84-17-7. No matter how good the matchup becomes in the future, it will never be new.
That is why Texas-Baylor is the hot new rivalry.
It’s not only because ofSteve Edmond's comments last week (“I don’t really like Baylor. I think they’re still trash.”) It’s because Baylor is going to be a contender for years to come. When Art Briles became head coach in 2010, he brought Baylor its first winning season since joining the Big 12 in 1996. Since then the Bears have consistently competed in the conference. Last year Baylor won its first Big 12 Conference championship and finished the season ranked No. 13.
Texas has faltered in the last few years, winning more than eight games only once since 2010. The Longhorns lost to Baylor last year by a score of 30-10 and subsequently lost the Big 12 title as well. These two teams have played each other 103 times since 1901 and Baylor has managed 25 wins. Despite such a long history, these two teams have never been considered rivals. However, three of those wins have come since the 2010 season and the Texas faithful are obviously not happy about it.
The 2014 season is where this rivalry will heat up. If Baylor is victorious, which is likely, the Bears will be 4-for-5 in as many meetings and can make the argument that they are the best team in Texas. Until Charlie Strong turns his team around, Texans will rank Baylor over the Longhorns in football.