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The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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One step away
June 8, 2024

North v. South

Since besting the University of Texas in the 2001 Big 12 Championship game, the Colorado Buffaloes have represented the Big 12 North division two out of three times in the December classic.
This year, as the final speed bump on Oklahoma’s inexorable march to the Orange Bowl, the Buffaloes look to restore credibility to a mediocre division by playing a giant-slayer as they did three years ago.
“It’s terrific for our team that we get a chance to go and represent the North and play in the Big 12 Championship,” said Colorado head coach and Associated Press 2004 Big 12 Coach of the Year Gary Barnett. “I said to our team yesterday that you will never play in a more exciting setting unless you play in a National Championship game or NFL playoff game.”
The Buffs have not played the Sooners since the 2002 championship, a 34-20 Sooner win. After ending the season 7-4, CU needed an Iowa State loss to win the chance to play the Sooners.
“Colorado is a great football team,” said Sooner Head Coach Bob Stoops. “Coach Barnett and his staff did an excellent job overcoming everything in the off-season and putting themselves in position to represent the North and compete for the Big 12 Championship.”
It will be a tough row to hoe for the Buffaloes. Colorado ranks dead last in the Big 12 in pass defense. Their young secondary will line up three sophomores against Heisman Trophy candidate Jason White and the Big 12’s most efficient passing offense.
If that isn’t enough, they also face the conference’s second-leading rusher in Sooner star freshman running back Adrian Peterson.
“We saw (Peterson), and we tried to recruit him,” Barnett said. “When we saw him, we knew he was a great player. We knew wherever he chose to go to school he was going to be a good player.”
There is little danger of Oklahoma looking past Colorado in light of the beating they took in last year’s title game from an underdog Kansas State team.
“I think more than anything, it’s motivation,” White said. “We completely laid an egg in last year’s game. You can tell this week in practice with the intensity and focus so far that we know we have to be ready to play. It doesn’t matter who the other team is or anything. We just have to be ready to play and go out and play our game.”

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