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October 1, 2013

Conference supremacy up for grabs in Big 12

NORMAN — The fact that six teams got first-place votes in the preseason Big 12 poll was a sure sign that league would be unpredictable in 2013.

Good luck trying to figure out the conference race now.

Preseason favorite Oklahoma State lost on Saturday at West Virginia. Presumptive contenders TCU and Texas each have two losses, and defending league champion Kansas State lost at home to FCS powerhouse North Dakota State.

Only Oklahoma, Baylor and Texas Tech survived September unbeaten. It’d be easy to peg the Sooners as the favorites after they won at Notre Dame over the weekend, but like the Big 12 race could stretch past Thanksgiving.

The league’s first full week starts Thursday when Iowa State (1-2, 0-0 Big 12) hosts the Longhorns (2-2, 1-0).

It’s no surprise to see the Sooners in a first place of a league they’ve won eight times since 2000, including a share of the title last season. But it might come as a surprise to see them as the only Big 12 team in the national title discussion.

Oklahoma (4-0, 1-0 Big 12) moved up to No. 11 in this week’s poll after beating the Irish 35-21 in South Bend. The Sooners defense is sixth nationally with just 12 points allowed per game, and Blake Bell has seized the starting quarterback job with a pair of strong efforts.

The Sooners host TCU (2-2, 0-1) on Saturday. Coach Bob Stoops dismissed any worries about a possible letdown because it falls in between Notre Dame and Texas on Oct. 12.

“I always laugh at that, because this happens every year,” Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said. “It’s always the same story, the letdown before and after, and that hasn’t happened to us. We’ve got to win every game, and TCU is a good football team and we’re going to do our business like we always do.”

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