NORMAN — For years, the strength of the Big 12 was tied largely to its star quarterbacks.
Not this year.
The conference has just one team in the top 10 in No. 4 Baylor. It’s no coincidence that the Bears (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) are also the only team in the league to have essentially one quarterback, Bryce Petty, behind center all season.
Injuries and inconsistent quarterback play has dogged nearly every team in the league. Even Texas (7-2, 6-0), which has won six in a row and has a half-game lead on the Bears, has had to overcome struggles behind center.
If the Big 12 is down in 2013, spotty quarterback play has had a lot to do with it.
“Complete opposite of what it was last year in the league. There were so many good, seasoned, senior quarterbacks that had played a lot of football, that were established and really good players,” West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen said. “It’s just part of the game. You can’t use it as an excuse not to be successful.”
Petty is on track to finish with one of the greatest seasons ever by a Big 12 quarterback.
Petty has 21 touchdown passes against just one pick and a national-best 13.2 yards per attempt, helping Baylor join the Longhorns and Oklahoma State (8-1, 5-1) in a three-team chase for the Big 12 title.
The Bears are averaging an astounding 61 points behind Petty, who has thrown at least two TD passes in every game this season.
“It’s been critical for us that Bryce has been able to stay healthy and perform as well as he has,” Baylor coach Art Briles said.
Texas and the Cowboys have managed to stay in the Big 12 race despite somewhat shaky quarterback situations.
Texas senior Case McCoy has been far from perfect since taking over for an injured David Ash, throwing six interceptions in the past four games and failing to crack 300 yards all season. But like the rest of the Longhorns, McCoy has shown impressive mental toughness after a pair of early losses.