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Published September 12, 2015
There is no midterm break for Big 12 Conference football teams, and the only grades that matter are win-loss records.
No. 4 Baylor (6-0, 3-0 Big 12) is the lone league team to make it to the halfway mark of the regular season undefeated. The defending Big 12 champion stayed that way only after overcoming a 21-point deficit in the final 11 minutes against then-No. 9 TCU in the highest-scoring game ever played between two Top 10 teams.
"We don't worry about points or stats," Baylor coach Art Briles said Monday during the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference. "We just worry about whether we win or don't win. ... That's just the way we're approaching it."
Aside from the undefeated Bears, the Big 12 has four one-loss teams jammed together in the latest AP poll — No. 11 Oklahoma, No. 12 TCU, No. 14 Kansas State and No. 15 Oklahoma State. But two of those teams will have their second loss by Saturday night, and likely fall out of the mix for the first four-team playoff in major college football.
Oklahoma (5-1, 2-1), which bounced back from its Oct. 4 loss at TCU with a win over Texas in the Red River rivalry, is back home for the first time in more than a month against K-State (4-1, 2-0). The Horned Frogs (4-1, 1-1) are hosting Oklahoma State (5-1, 3-0), a team that even its own coach described as average.
The Cowboys have won five games in a row since a close season-opening loss to defending national champion Florida State. But OSU's conference victories have come against Iowa State, Kansas and Texas Tech — a trio tied at the bottom of the Big 12 standings, all 2-4 overall and 0-3 in the league.
"We've played a lot of football games here over the last five or six years with very experienced and NFL-caliber players, and right now we're a young inexperienced team. So it's different," Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. "There's some adjustments that we're going through, but it's OK. We're glad that we've won five football games. But we know this week, and as we progress through the schedule, we're going to play some really, really good football teams, and we'll have our work cut out for us."
TCU coach Gary Patterson said he had no concern about his team being able to rebound from the 61-58 loss to Baylor, which kicked a field goal on the game's last play. He said the Frogs had a "much better practice" Sunday than they did a week earlier when coming off an emotional home victory over then-No. 4 Oklahoma.
Patterson's message to his players was the same after both games: They have to move forward and can't get too high or low to win a championship.
"There were our goals, and there were everybody else's," Patterson said. "I don't think anybody expected us to be 4-1 and take two of the teams in the top five in the nation to the wire, beating one and losing by three points to the other one."
The Bears follow their wild victory by going to West Virginia, where two years ago they fell 70-63 in the highest-scoring Big 12 game ever.
Last season, Baylor won 73-42 at home against the Mountaineers (4-2, 2-1), who this season have already matched their 2013 win total after its own comeback Saturday. WVU rallied from 14 points down in the fourth quarter at Texas Tech and won when sophomore Josh Lambert kicked a 55-yard field goal as time expired.
Asked if he expected another high-scoring game this week, Briles responded, "It'd be OK if we had one more (point) than them at the end. ... It's just going to be another great matchup."