During the last two seasons, the Big 12 football has featured mid-November upsets of teams that eventually won the Conference title.
This season's league title still could be decided by an unexpected outcome. However, the top three teams in the standings – Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma State – have a combined one loss in Big 12 play. Starting with Saturday's game in Austin between the Cowboys and Longhorns, those three teams all have deciding games over the next three weeks.
The bottom line: Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas control their own destinies.
"We got these last three games and we control our own fate," Oklahoma State senior offensive lineman Brandon Webb said. "If we win out, we do what we want to do and we'll leave it up to the BCS poll after that, but right now, we're going for the Big 12 championship and so are these next three teams in front of us, so we just got to prepare."
The Cowboys were the preseason favorite to win the championship and their only loss was a late-September stumble at West Virginia. Since then, Oklahoma State has won five in a row and will face a Texas team whose six-game winning streak has come against Big 12 foes.
"You're at a point in the season where you need to win one to get to the next one if you want to stay in that race," coach Mike Gundy said. "If we wouldn't have played well and beat Kansas, it wouldn't have been a big game. But you have to continue to move forward and this will be a new challenge for us.
"(Texas) is a very talented football team, we're playing on the road, so we've got our work cut out for us."
The Longhorns' six Big 12 victories have been against teams that have won a total of 23 games. UT's final three opponents (Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor) have won a total of 23 games.
"I don't want to hear about the games we have following Oklahoma State. I really don't care," Texas defensive back Quandre Diggs said. "I just want to win this week and that's all I care about. I don't care about a Big 12 championship in the future, because that kind of thinking gets you beat. I'm worried about this week."
The Oklahoma State-Texas game is the first part of a doubleheader televised by FOX. No. 5 Baylor faces Texas Tech in the nightcap. That game will be played at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
All times Central
West Virginia at Kansas
Need to know: 11 a.m., Memorial Stadium, FSN.
Records: West Virginia 4-6, 2-5; Kansas 2-7, 0-6.
Scouting West Virginia: The Mountaineers, whose last two games have gone overtime, need to win their last two games to become bowl eligible. Paul Millard played well against Texas, taking over at quarterback for an injured Clint Trickett. It's uncertain who will start. West Virginia's defense has forced 25 turnovers.
Scouting Kansas: The Jayhawks are looking for something positive to happen. Kansas has been outscored 42 to 14 in six Big 12 losses as its offense has failed to produce and its defense has been overworked. Linebacker Ben Heeney is third in the Big 12 in tackles while sophomore defensive back Isaiah Johnson is tied for the lead in interceptions with four.
This and that: West Virginia has been to bowl games in 11 consecutive seasons. … The Mountaineers had five turnovers in the loss to Texas and have turned it over 24 times this season. ... The Kansas offense is ranked 117th in the nation (295.1 ypg) and has not scored more than 20 points since their season-opening win over FCS school South Dakota.
Iowa State at Oklahoma
Need to know: 11 a.m., Gaylord Family/Oklahoma Memorial Trice Stadium, FS1.
Records: Iowa State 1-8, 0-6; Oklahoma 7-2, 4-2.
Scouting Iowa State: Five of the Cyclones losses have come by a total of 26 points. Redshirt freshman Grant Rohach made his first start against TCU and showed flashes of promise but needs to be more consistent. Senior linebacker Jeremiah George is having an outstanding season and leads the Big 12 in tackles.
Scouting Oklahoma: The Sooners' passing game is struggling and ranks ninth in the Big 12. Junior Blake Bell is expected to remain the starter at quarterback although Trevor Knight could see some playing time. OU's inability to throw the ball is negating a rushing attack that ranks second in the Conference.
This and that: Iowa State has two winless seasons in Big 12 play (2003 and 2008). … In nine Big 12 games last season Oklahoma had 45 offensive touchdowns; through six games this season, the Sooners have 14 offensive TDs. … The Sooners lead the series with Iowa State 69-5-2 and have won 14 in a row.
TCU at Kansas State
Need to know: 2:30 p.m., Bill Snyder Family Stadium, FSN.
Records: TCU 4-6, 2-5; Kansas State 5-4, 3-3.
Scouting TCU: The Horned Frogs need to win their last two games to become bowl eligible and they're coming off a gritty, come-from-behind victory at Iowa State. The offense shows signs of producing on a consistent basis even though the running game is last in the Big 12. TCU's defense is tops against the run plus it leads the Big 12 in sacks and interceptions.
Scouting Kansas State: The Wildcats have won three consecutive games in impressive fashion. The two-man quarterback system is clicking with starter Jake Waters providing the arm and sophomore Daniel Sams the legs. Senior running back John Hubert averages 5.2 yards per carry. The defense is led by defensive end Ryan Mueller, who leads the Big 12 in sacks.
This and that: During its three-game winning streak, Kansas State is plus-6 in turnover margin. … Over the past 10 seasons, TCU's Trevone Boykin is one of two players who have 1,000 yards passing along with a 100-yard rushing game and a 100-yard receiving game. … TCU coach Gary Patterson is a 1983 graduate of Kansas State.
Oklahoma State at Texas
Need to know: 2:30 p.m., Darrell K. Royal/Memorial Stadium, FOX.
Records: Oklahoma State 8-1, 5-1; Texas 7-2, 6-0.
Scouting Oklahoma State: The Cowboys' offense balanced itself once Desmond Roland took over as the main running back. Roland has gained 359 yards in the last three games and the offense is averaging 50 points in those games. No. 12 Oklahoma State's defense is greedy and leads the Big 12 in turnovers and turnover margin.
Scouting Texas: The Longhorns, back in the rankings this week at No. 24, will try to keep their spot at the top of the standings facing a team it typically struggles to beat. Texas has lost six starters due to injuries, with running back Johnathan Gray and defensive tackle Chris Whaley the latest to be sidelined. Senior quarterback Case McCoy's statistics aren't impressive but he last led UT to six Big 12 victories.
This and that: Oklahoma State has lost 14 of its 17 games played in Austin, but two of those victories came in their last two visits. … The Cowboys are averaging 236 yards rushing over their last three games. … Texas quarterback Case McCoy set career highs for attempts (49) and completions (27) last week at West Virginia.
Texas Tech vs. Baylor
Need to know: 6 p.m., AT&T Stadium, Arlington, Texas, FOX.
Records: Texas Tech 7-3, 4-3; Baylor 8-0, 5-0.
Scouting Texas Tech: The numbers are starting to skew negative for the Red Raiders. They're last in the Big 12 in turnover margin at minus 10 and their running game has slipped to ninth in the league. Those are just two statistical categories that have put too much pressure on an injury-riddled defense that has allowed 139 points during a three-game losing streak.
Scouting Baylor: The fifth-ranked Bears will be without their best deep threat (receiver Tevin Reese) and might be without top running backs Lache Seastrunk and Glasco Martin. Freshman Shock Linwood was a more than adequate fill in at running back in the victory over Oklahoma. Baylor's defense continues to impress as it tops the Big 12 in scoring and total defense.
This and that: Texas Tech hasn't named a starting quarterback for the game; freshman Baker Mayfield replaced freshman Davis Webb in the loss to Kansas State. … Baylor freshman Shock Linwood (89.3 yards per game) is second to teammate Lache Seastrunk (111) in Big 12 rushing.