This is exactly what the Big 12 wanted when it brought its title game back. A rematch was guaranteed based on the league's round-robin schedule, but for its two most prominent programs to meet in the Big 12 Championship Game after a phenomenal showdown earlier in the season is perfect for the conference. So while the Big 12 championship may be an exercise in redundancy, this year's title game and so-called "13th data point" between No. 14 Texas and No. 5 Oklahoma matters plenty. The conference front office has to be patting itself on the back this week. Not only does the neutral site game in Jerry World pair the conference's heavy weights, there are College Football Playoff Implications.
A win for Oklahoma, at worst, would keep it in the conversation for a whole day into Selection Sunday. At best, it could be the game that gets the Sooners No. 4 spot, though other factors across the landscape would surely contribute to this as well. Texas, meanwhile, can finally use the dreaded "B-word" without a sniff of irony if it beats Oklahoma for the second time this season. It would surely launch the Longhorns into the preseason top 10 for 2019 with even greater expectations for coach Tom Herman in Year 3.
Date: Saturday, Dec. 1 | Time: Noon ET
Location: AT&T Stadium -- Arlington, Texas
TV: ABC | Live stream: WatchESPN
Texas: The Longhorns' defense did as good a job as any this season corralling Oklahoma's high-powered offense -- at least for three quarters. The Sooners proceeded to go on a 21-0 run in the fourth quarter before Texas finished the game with a go-ahead field goal to win 48-45. Can Texas put up a similar defensive effort on Saturday? Oklahoma is alarmingly efficient, leading the nation in scoring offense (50.3 points per game) and yards per play (8.92, nearly a full yard more than No. 2 Alabama). Texas' brand of power running with physical wideouts downfield is a major matchup problem for the Sooners' defense (then again, what isn't?), but while UT can win in a shootout, it's not quite the M.O. Defense will be key again.
Oklahoma: Forget the playoff chatter for a moment. Can the Sooners really keep this up on offense? What remains so mind-boggling is that Oklahoma plays with almost zero margin for error because of how porous the defense is (six yards per play allowed, 2.75 points per drive allowed). And, yet, they are so efficient offensively that it almost doesn't matter. Every time you think there's no possible way Oklahoma can keep this up -- that, surely, it will come back to haunt them -- the offense keeps producing. In the first half of a 59-56 win over West Virginia on Black Friday, the Sooners averaged 14 yards per play on 26 plays. Say what you will about Big 12 defenses, but it's hard to do that against air. And quarterback Kyler Murray indeed has a legitimate Heisman Trophy argument. He's still a more efficient passer than Baker Mayfield was a season ago when he won the award, plus Murray's a better, faster runner. Few quarterbacks are asked to be as close to perfection as possible on a weekly basis and Murray consistently delivers.
Game prediction, picks
There are a couple of conflicting ideals at play. A recurring theme on here is that Herman is a far better underdog than he is a favorite. For evidence, look no further than this game just a couple of months ago vs. Texas' 24-17 win over lowly Kansas a week ago. Ultimately, that underdog line helps the Horns cover. Beating the same team twice, though, especially one as good as Oklahoma? That's a different story. Pick: Texas +7.5
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