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Big 12 staking its claim as nation's top football conference in 2012

The Big 12 has long been considered one of the elite conferences in college football, but this season, the newly configured conference is performing at a nation-leading level.

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Matthew Emmons-US PRESSWIRE

With Big 12 expatriate Texas A&M's earth-shaking upset of Southeastern Conference kingpin and defending national champion Alabama last weekend and Kansas State's ascendance to the top of the BCS (Bowl Championship Series) standings, there are those who believe the Big 12 can make a strong case for being the strongest conference in college football this season, breaking the near decade-long stronghold the SEC has had on the top spot.

If things stay as they are - and, admittedly, that is a very big "if," considering the bracket-busting nature on any given Saturday in college football - Kansas State will be making its first appearance ever in a national championship game in football, the Big 12 will have a representative in the BCS Championship game for the seventh time since 2000, and it will be the first time in seven seasons that the national champion will not come from the SEC.

Here are some other persuasive facts supporting the Big 12's success story in the 2012 college football season:

  • Four Big 12 teams are ranked in the BCS top-25 standings; five in the USA Today coaches' poll.
  • Six of the 10 conference teams (Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and TCU) are already bowl eligible (six or more wins) and two others (West Virginia and Iowa State) lack just one win of making it eight teams eligible for postseason play.
  • The Big 12's 457.5 yards per game average is on pace to be the highest offensive output among Football Bowl Subdivision teams in the past five years.
  • The Big 12 leads all conferences in points per game (35.7), touchdowns per game (4.59), passing touchdowns per game (2.29) and rushing TDs per game (2.00).
  • Teams in the Big 12 lead all BCS schools in average number of offensive plays (73.8), total yards per game (457.5) and fewest punts per game (4.0).
  • Almost 20 percent of Big 12 touchdown drives have been scored in less than a minute (79 of 405). Thirty-five percent of those TD drives have covered at least 50 yards in five plays or less.
  • This season marks the third straight season that the Big 12 is averaging more than 30 points per game and the fourth time out of the last five.

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