NORMAN — The Big 12 is shaping up for a wild November with five teams fighting for a shot at the league’s automatic BCS berth.
Midway through the conference season, the maneuvering isn’t just going on at the top of the standings.
While four teams already are bowl eligible, others are scrapping to fill the remainder of the league’s seven-bowl allotment.
Alongside fifth-ranked Baylor, No. 13 Oklahoma, No. 15 Texas Tech and No. 18 Oklahoma State, it’s unranked Texas (5-2, 4-0) that can take sole possession of first place over the idle Bears with a win at home Saturday against Kansas.
Talk about a turnaround in confidence from a month ago, when the Longhorns were 1-2 after back-to-back blowout losses to BYU and Mississippi. They’ve won four straight since.
“It’s just a change completely,” Texas coach Mack Brown said Monday. “The team now feels like they do have a chance to win the Big 12 championship, which is what their goal has been since January.
“They do understand they’ve got to continue to improve. We still had some issues Saturday night that we can fix. But it’s much easier to fix things when you win.”
The Longhorns, coming off a 30-7 win at TCU, play three of their next four games at home before the regular-season finale at Baylor (7-0, 4-0).
The Bears and Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1) have a bye week to prepare for their Nov. 7 showdown in Waco, Texas. The break will give Sooners coach Bob Stoops some coveted extra time to figure out how to slow down Baylor and quarterback Bryce Petty.
“Great arm. Great poise. Throws a great ball,” Stoops said. “You can tell he has a great understanding of their offense and where he wants to go with everything. He does a great job.”
The Sooners ended Texas Tech’s perfect season with a 38-30 win on Saturday. Now the Red Raiders (7-1, 4-1) have to regroup to play Oklahoma State (6-1, 3-1) at home on Saturday.