Big 12 faces harsh BCS reality after loss

The coast was clear, and the SEC was nowhere to be found. The Big 12 had been shut out of the BCS National Championship Game in each of the past two seasons after making the cut in five of the seven seasons before that. Kansas State looked likely to buck the trend.

Then a desperate Baylor team that believed in its matchups happened.

The smoke has cleared. The new BCS rankings have been released, and the Big 12 must face a harsh reality for a third consecutive season: Its BCS title hopes are dead.

Sure, an unlikely string of losses might help Kansas State back into the title game, but it's wasted breath at this point as K-State prepares to face Texas at home in two weeks with a Big 12 title on the line

For the second consecutive season, the Big 12's No. 9 team knocked off its No. 1 team on the road on a chilly November night in Week 12. Kansas State, like Oklahoma State last year, was a double-digit favorite. Both left with crushed dreams that must be mended over a bye week .

The Big 12's blue bloods -- Texas and Oklahoma -- once again checked out of the BCS title race early this season. A resilient contender emerged again, but once again fell short.

Kansas State is No. 6 in the BCS, though it sits at No. 4 in the computers and three of the six computer rankings still consider the Wildcats a top 3 team. Oklahoma is all the way back at No. 13.

This loss wasn't quite as painful as the 1998 loss in the Big 12 title game to Texas A&M, but it was much more shocking. Could Kansas State handle the pressure of being No. 1? Did Collin Klein's concussion knock him off track? Were the Wildcats simply not fast enough, deep enough or talented enough?

The answers to those questions don't matter much anymore. If the Big 12 wants a national title, there's only four words left to make that happen.

Better luck next year.