There's no getting around the fact that, in the first sort-of-normal college football Saturday of 2020, it was a bad day for the Big 12.


Especially if those teams were going up against members of the Sun Belt Conference.


The Sun Belt teams went an astounding 3-0 against Big 12 representatives this past Saturday.


In a very entertaining game nationally televised by FOX, Arkansas State rallied in the closing moments to win at Kansas State.


Then Iowa State, which for the past two or three years or so has been a trendy darkhorse pick to win the conference, was throttled on its home field by the Ragin' Cajuns of Louisiana (the team also known as Louisiana-Lafayette and before that, Southwestern Louisiana).


As if that wasn't enough, in a late Saturday night stand-alone game, the Kansas Jayhawks were thoroughly embarrassed at home by Coastal Carolina, the second straight season the Jayhawks lost to the team called the Chanticleers.


Which begs the question: Did Les Miles, the "Mad Hatter" himself, know exactly what he was walking into when he decided to take that Kansas job? Toto, I don’t think he’s at LSU anymore.


And then another Big 12 team nearly spit the bit. Texas Tech barely had to hang on against a Houston Baptist team which tallied a whopping 600 yards of total offense, 572 of that coming through the air.


So no, it wasn't a great Saturday for the Big 12.


Oh sure, the flagship teams in Oklahoma and Texas looked very impressive.


OU quarterback Spencer Rattler started his Heisman Trophy campaign in style with 290 yards and four touchdowns and the defense pitched a shutout against Missouri State.


Texas QB Sam Ehlinger threw for a career-high 426 yards and five TDs in a pummeling of UTEP.


Throw in West Virginia, which had an outstanding showing of its own by dominating Eastern Kentucky. Two Mountaineer running backs each gained 123 yards and scored a pair of TDs and 10 different players caught passes which totaled nearly 300 yards.


But those performances still didn't overshadow the tough day the Big 12 had on the field. It's also going to greatly affect the strength of schedule for the conference's teams vying to get into the College Football Playoff.


That's a task made even tougher with Wednesday morning's announcement that the Big Ten is jumping right back into the fray by deciding to start up its season starting late next month.


It seemed a sure bet that the Big 12 champion, whichever team that may be, would be in the playoff mix along with the ACC and SEC champions and a runner-up from either of those leagues.


Now, unless an OU, Oklahoma State or Texas goes undefeated, it won't be an easy path for a one-loss Big 12 champion to make the final four if the ACC, SEC and Big Ten champions all win out and there's one runner-up from those leagues which has a better overall strength of schedule.


This Saturday, the Big 12 could really redeem themselves in a big way with two high-profile match-ups.


Oklahoma State finally kicks its season off with a home game against Tulsa, a game that was postponed for a week with the Golden Hurricane having to deal with numerous issues related to COVID-19.


On paper, it's a game OSU should win but the Cane has given the Cowboys some degree of difficulty in previous match-ups. But with the personnel OSU returns and the Cowboys determined to move past a turbulent off-season, it's a game they can ill afford to lose on several fronts.


Then there's Baylor, which also starts its season with a home game against an always solid Houston squad. The Bears were two tough losses to Oklahoma away from a Big 12 title and a spot in the playoff a season ago.


But they went through a coaching change, losing Matt Rhule to the NFL and bringing in Dave Aranda, the former defensive coordinator at LSU. Then throw in the uncertainty of the unexpected layoff from the pandemic, so there's no telling what the Bears' mindset will be come Saturday.


So it's going to be highly imperative for Oklahoma State and Baylor to win this Saturday and perhaps save some face for the Big 12 with conference action starting up the following weekend.


After receiving a ton of goodwill as perhaps the league that kept this college football season afloat, it would be bad for that Big 12’s reputation — for the second straight week — to revert back to a serious downturn