2006 Big 12 Championship: Nebraska vs. Oklahoma
By Douglas Kroll
Much like the ACC Championship, the Big 12 Championship game has a surprising participant this season, especially after losing their biggest playmaker earlier in the season. No. 8 Oklahoma (10-2) jumped over Texas last weekend, into first place in the South Division, after Texas lost to Texas A&M, and Oklahoma defeated Oklahoma St. The Sooners will take on No. 19 Nebraska (9-3) in Kansas City on Saturday for an automatic bid to the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.
The teams have met 82 times, with Oklahoma leading the all-time series 42-37-3. This will mark the third straight season that the inter-division rivals will meet, with the Sooners taking the last two meetings. An interesting note on the gamethis will be the first time since 1979 that the two will meet on a neutral field. That year, Oklahoma won the Orange Bowl, defeating the Cornhuskers 31-24.
Oklahoma will be looking for its 40th conference championship, and looking to improve upon a Big 12 best of three Championship game wins. After a year off from the Title game, the Sooners will be looking to make it two in a row in Kansas City, after a 42-3 win against Colorado in 2004.
Although star running back Adrian Peterson will not return from a collarbone injury, Oklahoma has moved on and played well without him. A running back by committee has taken over, including Allen Patrick and Chris Brown, who have combined for nine touchdowns on the ground. Quarterback Paul Thompson continues to improve at his new position, averaging 180 yards per game through the air and tossing 18 touchdowns this season. Thompson
has completed 61.5-percent of his passes, and has also run for three touchdowns this year. Wide receiver Malcolm Kelly is the Sooners biggest weapon on offense, leading the team with 52 receptions and eight touchdowns. Kelly is averaging over 16 yards every time he catches the ball.
Nebraska continues to improve each season under head coach Bill Callahan, and made it back into the rankings this season and won the Big 12 North division. This will be Nebraska's first appearance in the Championship game since 1999, and for the first time in the 11-year Big 12 Championship game, will face Oklahoma. After being almost a mainstay in the first years of the Championship - playing in the first three of four and winning two championships
- Nebraska has been absent since.
Quarterback Zac Taylor has really come on this season, averaging 232.4 yards per game, and throwing 24 touchdowns to only four interceptions, while completing 62.2 percent of his passes this year. Taylor likes to spread things around, as 13 different players have made touchdown receptions. Maurice Purify leads the bunch with seven TD catches on the year.
Douglas Kroll is an independent contributor to College Football Poll.com.