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Baylor BCS Hopes Helped By Northern Illinois Loss
December 07, 2013
Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

On a night when the Baylor women’s basketball team was involved in an epic, record-setting four-overtime game and the men’s team upsetting No. 3 Kentucky, some of the attention of Bears’ fans was also focused on Ford Field in Detroit.

Why? That’s where the Mid-American Conference championship game was won by Bowling Green, which upset undefeated and 14th-ranked Northern Illinois, 47-27. And why did that matter to Baylor Nation?

Northern Illinois was in position to earn its second consecutive at-large BCS bid. The loss, however, knocked the Huskies out of contention and possibly opened a spot for Baylor’s ninth-ranked football team.

So now, not only will the Bears (10-1, 7-1) be playing for the Big 12 Conference title or a share of the title, they’ll have a much better chance to earn a BCS at-large bid, perhaps to the Sugar Bowl. Oregon (10-2) would likely be Baylor’s top competition to land the at-large invitation.

Jerry Palm of updated his bowl projections Friday night and placed Oklahoma State in the Fiesta against Central Florida with Baylor facing Auburn in the Sugar Bowl.

Baylor closes out Floyd Casey Stadium when Texas visits Waco (2:30 p.m., ABC). Earlier in the day, Bedlam takes place in Stillwater with Oklahoma taking on Oklahoma State. If the Cowboys win, they’ll clinch the Big 12’s spot in the Fiesta Bowl. If the Sooners win, the Longhorns and the Bears will play for the undisputed title and the Fiesta Bowl spot.

At AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas, Friday night Baylor and Kentucky staged a women’s/men’s doubleheader. The ninth-ranked Lady Bears dropped a memorable 133-130 four-overtime game to No. 5 Kentucky.

The game set a Division I record for most points scored in a game. The previous high for a Division I women's game was 252 points in SMU's 127-125 win over TCU, also in four overtimes, on Jan. 25, 1997. Baylor’s Odyssey Sims scored a career-high 47 and the Lady Bears had seven players foul out.

In the seventh game this week in the Big 12/SEC Challenge, No. 20 Baylor overcame a nine-point deficit early in the second half to stun No. 3 Kentucky, 67-62. It’s the second season in a row that the Bears have beaten the Wildcats, winning in Lexington last season. Baylor limited Kentucky to four field goals over the final 14 minutes.

The Big 12 has a 6-2 lead and with two games remaining has clinched the challenge series with the SEC.

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