Big 12 football has some extremely heated rivalries, and some of them are taking another a fresh twist right now.
The Big 12 as we’ve known it for about a decade won’t exist for much longer, though we don’t know when that change will be. At some point, Texas and Oklahoma will leave for the SEC, and at some point probably not long after that, Cincinnati, BYU, UCF, and Houston will join the conference.
With the Longhorns and Sooners waving goodbye to the conference, another level to their rivalries with other Big 12 football teams has been added. It’s not just about winning one game anymore – now, it’s about sending a message.
In no particular order, these are the best Big 12 football rivalries in the conference right now.
Best Big 12 Football Rivalries Right Now
Texas – Oklahoma: 62-50-5
This is one of the premier rivalries in college football, and it has been instrumental in deciding the Big 12 championship many times. Not as much lately as usual considering Texas has not normally been at that level for some years, and Oklahoma has now won four in a row over the Longhorns, but you can’t deny the Red River Rivalry.
These are two of the most historic programs in the sport, and when they meet at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, burnt orange and crimson clash beautifully in the stadium and at the State Fair of Texas. And even though the Sooners have the upper hand right now, that doesn’t mean the games aren’t insanely good.
Texas blew a large lead earlier this season against Oklahoma, and none of the last four wins for the Sooners have been overwhelming. The Longhorns won a thriller in 2018, and Charlie Strong smiling with the Golden Hat on his head after the 2015 victory is hilariously iconic for now good and bad reasons.
One silver lining of the recent conference realignment is that at least this rivalry won’t be lost. You can bank on Oklahoma-Texas to be one of the marquee games of the college football season.
TCU – Baylor: 57-53-7
From 1996 through 2009, these teams only played twice despite a long history of heated rivalry. When TCU joined the Big 12, the series became regular again, and so too did the hatred.
A remarkably even series given its longevity, the Horned Frogs have generally gotten the best of the Bears while the two have shared the Big 12 together, but the games themselves have helped make this one of the best football rivalries in the league.
TCU upset Baylor, 30-28, in a thriller earlier this year despite having a terrible season, costing the Bears a shot at the College Football Playoff. How close the 2021 game was goes along well with the theme of the rivalry in the Big 12. Seven of the 12 contests between these two in the Big 12 have been decided by one possession, including Baylor’s famous 61-58 victory in 2014, which had major ramifications for how the Big 12 and other conferences declare their champion.
If you want to follow Big 12 football, this is one of the rivalries you cannot afford to miss. It has been consistently delivering for more than a decade at this point.
Oklahoma – Oklahoma State: 90-18-7
No, Oklahoma State doesn’t win this game often, and no, the Cowboys haven’t beat Oklahoma since 2014, but how can you deny the greatness of Bedlam?
Oklahoma State football has been much better the last decade or so than for most of its history, and it has been a thorn in Oklahoma’s side a few times in the modern era. The best game in recent memory was in 2018 when it all came down to a two-point conversation, but the 2017, 2014, and 2012 showdowns come to mind as memorable affairs as well. The 2021 iteration is gearing up to be as insane as ever, and when you add in the salt from Oklahoma shipping off soon for the SEC, sparks will fly, to say the least.
I mean, come on, the rivalry is called Bedlam for a reason. It is absolutely a chaotic mess filled with unpredictability (minus, you know, Oklahoma almost always winning). It has offered us some of the most fun and intense moments in the last 10 years of Big 12 football, and it has to be viewed as one of the league’s best rivalries right now.
Oklahoma – Kansas State: 77-21-4
Let me begin by explaining that this isn’t really a rivalry, but considering how close the games have been lately (and K-State upsetting Oklahoma two years in a row recently), it feels appropriate to add. Plus with the Sooners ditching the Big 12, all the schools left behind have that extra bit of animosity for them now, and the Wildcats are included.
Oklahoma narrowly escaped Kansas State this season, 37-31, getting revenge on the Wildcats for pulling out two close ones in 2019 and 2020, both of which seriously impacted Oklahoma’s season. In 2017, the Sooners held K-State off by just a touchdown, and in 2014, a one-point victory for the Wildcats when Oklahoma was ranked No. 11 in the country helped propel Kansas State’s momentum that season.
Again, calling this a “rivalry” might be a bit of a stretch, but if you open up the question to include the best series happening in Big 12 football right now, you can’t ignore just how big of a problem the Wildcats have been for the Sooners in recent memory.
Iowa State – Kansas State: 52-49-4
The games between these two in 2020 and 2021 weren’t great, but those were anomalies compared to the contests we were getting from these two for years.
Farmageddon, as it’s affectionately known, has been played continuously since 1917, but we’re not here to talk about history. We’re here to talk about how every game but one played between these two from 2008 through 2018 was decided by one score.
Sure, Kansas State won all of them, and I’ll admit, this rivalry isn’t as strong as the others on this list. But what you do have are two long-time Big 8 competitors that make up the two-best programs in the northern portion of the modern conference. The Cyclones were basically abysmal before Matt Campbell came to Ames, but now they appear to be set up to at least remain competitive for the foreseeable future. Meanwhile, K-State is beginning to climb out of the hole it was in toward the end of Bill Snyder’s second reign in Manhattan.
This pick might be more of a prediction than anything else, but Iowa State-Kansas State games generally provided some pretty good entertainment in the not-so-distant past.
Texas Tech/Baylor/TCU – Texas
Is this a cop-out answer? Perhaps, and that’s something I’m willing to accept. But it’s also true – everyone hated Texas before, but now everyone really hates Texas, especially the other Texas schools.
How close the series have been, which team has dominated, all of that is irrelevant for how heated these games between the Longhorns and their in-state foes are and will continue to be until they leave for the SEC. It’s about more than just doing one over the big name in the state. It’s now about sending a message to Texas that it might make all the money and view itself as the king of the state, but when it comes to the field, it’s more of a court jester.
Baylor took down the Longhorns this year, 31-24, while Texas Tech and TCU both failed to stick it to Texas in one of the final chances they’ll get, at least while they all share the same conference. Right now, Texas will still be in the Big 12 in 2022, but who knows if that could change between now and the start of next season. There are only so many more shots the Red Raiders, Horned Frogs, and Bears will have at the Longhorns – you can expect extra juice in every single opportunity that comes.