Grind for top 4 Big 12 teams will be fun for others to watch

Dana Holgorsen figures it will be fun to watch the top four Big 12 teams fight it out in November for the conference title - and possible playoff spot. The West Virginia coach has already seen them all up close.

The Mountaineers' four Big 12 games so far, all losses in October, were to the title-contending teams - second-ranked Baylor, fifth-ranked TCU, 12th-ranked Oklahoma State and 14th-ranked Oklahoma.

''All four of them are great, and all four of them have a chance,'' Holgorsen said Monday on the weekly Big 12 coaches teleconference. ''If one team ends up beating the other three and ends up with an undefeated record, there' no doubt in my mind that that specific team would be as good as anybody out there.''

They all play each other head-to-head in November, starting Saturday when TCU (8-0, 5-0 Big 12) is at Oklahoma State (8-0, 5-0). The following weekend, Oklahoma (7-1, 4-1) goes to Baylor (7-0, 4-0), and then the last two weekends of the month feature games with in which all those teams playing against each other.

''I think it will definitely make for some great games,'' said Texas Tech coach Kliff Kingsbury, whose Red Raiders have also played all four of the front-runners.

''That's a fan and a media person talking when you say fun,'' TCU coach Gary Patterson said. ''I'd use the word, a grind, what we have to do.''

Oklahoma, which has outscored opponents 180-34 in a three-game winning streak since losing to Texas, is home Saturday against Iowa State, two days after Baylor plays at Kansas State (3-4, 0-4).

''I hadn't thought about that, other than Iowa State,'' Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said, when asked about the four-team race in November.

After hosting the Sooners, Baylor has consecutive road games to Oklahoma State and TCU.

Oklahoma State has three of its last four games at home, going to Iowa State and hosting the big ones against TCU, Baylor and Oklahoma.

''We only need to worry about this game,'' Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy said. ''If we're fortunate enough to play well enough in our game to put ourselves in position next week, we'll concern ourselves at that time. It's all we can do to keep guys fresh and healthy and get the game plan and get ready to go for TCU.''

WATCHING THE RANKINGS?: The first weekly College Football Playoff rankings of the season will be released Tuesday night, and defending Big 12 co-champions Baylor and TCU are still undefeated.

That doesn't mean the rankings show is must-see viewing for Baylor coach Art Briles or Patterson.

''I haven't even thought about it,'' Briles said. ''As we learned last year, the last standings are the ones that are permanent, final.''

The Bears last season were the first team snubbed for the first four-team playoff last season, finishing fifth in the final CFP rankings.

TCU ended sixth last year, dropping from third in the final rankings even when after a 55-3 win over Iowa State in its regular-season finale.

''I didn't look at it last year, and I'm not looking at them this year,'' Patterson said. ''Why worry about things you don't have any control over it. We've got control over trying to win games.''

Some other notes from the Big 12 call Monday:

- Texas (3-5, 2-3) seemed headed in the right direction after consecutive victories over Oklahoma and Kansas State. The Longhorns came to a grinding halt in a 24-0 loss at Iowa State.

''We have to bounce back, we have no choice,'' second-year coach Charlie Strong said. ''You have to be able to rise, build up and ride to momentum. We didn't do a good job of it. ... We should have performed a lot better than we did.''

- While Kansas State is 0-4 in the Big 12 for the first time since 2001, coach Bill Snyder was asked how his team were handling things. ''I'd like to think, and I do believe, they're holding up well,'' he said.

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AP college football website: http://collegefootball.ap.org

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