Super sophomore Baylor QB Robert Griffin tore an ACL in Saturday's victory over Northwestern State. While the season-ending blow is a big one to the Bears (and First Sports anchor David Reed...), it's also a hit to the Big XII and its elite teams aspiring to secure a spot in the national championship game.
It's no secret the Big XII North is down this year, as evidenced by Kansas State's loss to Lousiana-Lafayette and Colorado's embarassing losses to non-BCS teams on national TV. An improving Nebraska team's last-second loss at Virginia Tech isn't as crippling. A surprising 4-0 Missouri team looks like the only formidable opponent from the North for the Sultans of the South.
The Big XII South again is among the strongest divisions in the country. Texas stands at No. 2, Oklahoma is again in the top 10, Oklahoma State was in the top 10 before losing to Houston at home. Texas Tech is reeling after two straight road losses to tough ranked teams in Texas and Houston. Texas A&M is still rebuilding in Year 2 of the Mike Sherman Era, but they do have one of the top ranked offenses in the country. But they've played the likes of New Mexico, Utah State, and UAB, and games against Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium and Oklahoma State loom.
Which brings us to Baylor. Griffin and the Bears' resurgence over the past two seasons made the Big XII South that much better. Baylor was vastly improved in 2008 and a bowl game looked like a forgone conclusion for 2009. But the team's brightest and one of the conference's most electrifying stars is now done for '09.
Baylor not being what they could have been in '09 weakens the conference's overall strength, which carries weight for the Texases and Oklahomas of the world hoping they're not excluded from the national championship game in January to an undefeated or one-loss Big Ten or Pac 10 team.
It's a bummer for not only the Bears, but all the Big XII.
Image courtesy of The Associated Press.