AMES — Iowa State is making history just by playing in Saturday’s Big 12 championship game in Arlington, Texas.
Beat No. 11 Oklahoma (7-2, 6-2) for a second time this season, and things get really crazy for the No. 7 Cyclones (8-2, 8-1).
Here are five things for Cyclones fans to know about the title game.
1. Oklahoma is a Big 12 championship game mainstay
Since the Big 12 reimplemented the Big 12 championship game in 2017, Oklahoma has played in it all three seasons.
The 2020 game against Iowa State will be its fourth straight trip to Arlington.
In all four games, the Sooners have had a different opponent. In 2017 the Sooners beat TCU, 41-17. In 2018 the Sooners beat Texas, 38-27. And in 2019 the Sooners beat Baylor, 30-23.
The Big 12 had a conference championship game from 1996, when the league was formed, to 2010, when significant conference realignment happened. Of the 18 conference championship games that have been played, Oklahoma has been in 11 and won 10 of them.
The recent numbers are even more impressive for Oklahoma, which has won eight of the last 10 it has played.
In the seven-season gap when the Big 12 had no conference championship game, Oklahoma was crowned the Big 12 champion three times.
2. College Football Playoff fiasco
The only reason this game exists is because of 2014.
In 2014, Baylor and TCU finished the season with 11-1 records.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
TCU lost to Baylor that season by three points, 61-58. And Baylor got beat handily by an unranked West Virginia, 41-27.
The Big 12 had come up with the “One True Champion” moniker that offseason because the conference had a round-robin schedule in which everybody played everybody.
At that time, conferences couldn’t have conference championship games if they had less 10 or fewer teams.
When Baylor and TCU finished tied for first in the standings, the Big 12 elected to name them co-champions and have both teams tie for the conference championship. Decidedly not “One True Champion.”
In part because there was no named champion and because the College Football Playoff committee had “one less data point,” TCU and Baylor were both left out.
That offseason the ACC and the Big 12 began creating legislation that would deregulate how many teams a conference needed to play a championship game. The legislation passed in January of 2016.
3. Host site: Jerry’s world
The Big 12 championship game is played at AT&T Stadium.
It’s also known as Jerry’s World because Jerry Jones, the owner of the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys, funded the majority of the stadium.
The stadium was built in 2009 and cost $1.15 billion. It was originally supposed to cost $650 million but Jones didn’t want to cut any corners and the price ballooned.
Arlington funded $325 million of the cost of the stadium.
ARTICLE CONTINUES BELOW ADVERTISEMENT
At the time of construction, it had the largest video board in the world.
4. How Oklahoma got here
Oklahoma made the Big 12 championship game because it always does. However, the path was a bit more arduous than usual.
The Sooners had to overcome some early-season adversity after they lost their first two Big 12 games to Kansas State and Iowa State.
After the two losses, Oklahoma went on a tear and finished the regular season with six straight wins, scoring an average of 46 points per game.
5. How Iowa State got here
Speaking of overcoming early-season adversity, Iowa State lost its first game to Louisiana.
But the Cyclones bounced back and grew from that game. Iowa State lost just one game in conference and that was a three-point loss to then-No. 6 Oklahoma State.
Iowa State also finished its regular season on a tear, winning five straight games and averaging 40 points per game while allowing just 14.6 points.