BIG 12 SPOTLIGHT: Big wins needed now to show playoff worthy

That Big 12 championship game in December might not have any playoff implications if there aren’t some notable wins outside the conference in September.

Ten-time Big 12 champion Oklahoma has an opportunity to get a big one in its Week 2 trip to Ohio State’s famed Horseshoe.

But for a league wanting to prove itself deserving of a spot in the College Football Playoff, and one that brought back its title game almost solely in hopes of a potential boost with the CFP selection committee, the Big 12 isn’t off to a promising start.

West Virginia and Texas, both in the Top 25 to start this season, lost the Big 12’s only opening-weekend games against other Power Five leagues. Then there was Baylor falling at home to Liberty, an FCS team just starting the two-year transition to the FBS.

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The fifth-ranked Sooners’ game at No. 2 Ohio State on Saturday night comes only 12 months after the Buckeyes won by three touchdowns in Norman, and three seasons after Ohio State essentially knocked the Big 12 out of the first playoff in the four-team setup.

“People want to talk about the revenge factor,” said new head coach Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma’s offensive coordinator for last year’s 45-24 loss. “Regardless who would have won that game last year, I think both teams will be very motivated and excited to play this game.”

Maryland’s 51-41 victory at then-No. 23 Texas that spoiled coach Tom Herman’s debut was one of two Big Ten wins against peer leagues the first full weekend of this season. The Pac-12 was 3-0 in such games while the SEC was 3-2. The ACC was 2-4, with two of those losses to ranked SEC teams, including No. 1 Alabama over then-No. 3 Florida State.

Big 12 teams have eight more non-conference games against Power Five schools this month, with six of those on the road. That includes Texas going to sixth-ranked Southern Cal on Sept. 16 in the first game between those schools since their Rose Bowl matchup a dozen seasons ago that the Longhorns won for the national championship.

No. 23 TCU plays Saturday at Arkansas, which won in double overtime last year in Fort Worth when the former Southwest Conference rivals met for the first time since 1991. Iowa State is home against Iowa, its instate rival from the Big Ten that won 42-3 in their game last season.

“I’m carrying the flag for TCU. My job is to win ballgames. That’s all I’m worried…

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