It’s time for another round of Red River rivalry games in the Big 12 South.
Two games on the first Saturday in November — Texas A&M at Oklahoma, and Texas at Oklahoma State — could further jumble the South standings. Or they could put the Sooners and Cowboys on a fast track to a regular season finale that could mean much more than instate bragging rights.
Meanwhile in the North, Kansas keeps winning and Nebraska keeps stumbling.
It’s time for the second half of a wild, so far unpredictable Big 12 schedule.
Certainly, no one could have guessed all that has happened so far:
— Kansas (8-0, 4-0 Big 12) being the only team to make it through the first two months of the season without a loss. The eighth-ranked Jayhawks are 8-0 for the first time since 1909. Going unblemished through a non-conference slate against the likes of Central Michigan and Southeastern Louisiana is one thing, but Kansas kept winning against Kansas State, Baylor, Colorado and Texas A&M.
— Nebraska (4-5, 1-4) losing four straight games, its longest streak since 1961. The ongoing slide has raised many questions about coach Bill Callahan’s future. And the man who could determine if Callahan stays is Tom Osborne, the former Cornhuskers coach who won three national championships and earlier this month became the interim athletic director.
— Texas losing its first two conference games for the first time since 1956.
— Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s “I’m a man” postgame tirade directed at a newspaper columnist after a victory, and the secret newsletter by Texas A&M coach Dennis Franchione that became public and led to him being admonished by school officials.
So what’s in store for November?
There are still two divisions up for grabs to determine who will play Dec. 1 in the Big 12 Championship game in San Antonio.
On the first Saturday in October, Oklahoma avoided an 0-2 conference start with its victory over the Longhorns in the middle of the State Fair of Texas.
Now the fifth-ranked Sooners (7-1, 3-1 Big 12) and Oklahoma State (5-3, 3-1) are the South co-leaders coming off bye weeks and preparing for home games. If both open November with victories, they will share a two-game division lead with three games to play.
Oklahoma plays three of its last four games at home, including the Nov. 24 game against its instate rival that could determine the Big 12 South.
Texas A&M (6-3, 3-2) trailed Kansas 19-0 in the fourth quarter before scoring 11 late points. Despite two conference losses already, the Aggies still have games left against Oklahoma and Texas, and already have beaten Oklahoma State.
With Jamaal Charles in charge, No. 14 Texas (7-2, 3-2) extended its winning streak to three since losing to Oklahoma. Charles ran for 216 yards and three long touchdowns in the fourth quarter of a 28-25 victory over the Cornhuskers, and finished with 290 yards overall.
Oklahoma State has won three of four, with a one-point loss at A&M the setback, since Gundy’s tirade after a victory.
In the North, it’s no longer out of line to consider the possible implications of ninth-ranked Missouri (7-1, 3-1) and Kansas in their regular season finale Nov. 24 in Kansas City.
Kansas can officially eliminate Nebraska from the Big 12 chase and push Callahan closer to the door Saturday. The Jayhawks already have road victories over Kansas State and Colorado, the only teams other than Missouri with realistic chances to catch up in the North.
Missouri has only one more home game, a game against Texas A&M that is sandwiched by trips to Colorado and Kansas State.
With quarterback Graham Harrell suddenly struggling to find his receivers, Texas Tech (6-3, 2-3) has scored a combined 36 points in consecutive losses to North teams. The Red Raiders averaged 50 points a game before that.
Harrell has thrown four interceptions in consecutive games, including one Colorado returned for a touchdown Saturday on Tech’s first play in the second half.
At the bottom of the divisions, Iowa State (1-7, 0-5) and Baylor (3-5, 0-5) are on pace for a dubious league first. Never before have two Big 12 teams gone through the same season without a winning a conference game, but it could happen since the Cyclones and Bears don’t play.
Only three teams have been winless in the Big 12 before, including Baylor three times (1999, 2000 and 2001) and Iowa State in 2003.
Kansas was the other 0-8 team. That was 2002, when Baylor broke its 29-game conference losing streak against the Jayhawks and didn’t beat anybody else.
Now Kansas is trying to complete an incredible turnaround and go without a loss.
Can the Jayhawks do it? That and other Big 12 questions will be answered over the next four weeks.