IRVING, TEXAS The Big 12 championship is a rematch, all right. Just not the one everyone expected.
Colorado-Texas is the surprising matchup for Saturday's game at Texas Stadium following a wild weekend that saw Nebraska and Oklahoma get knocked out of the conference title game and the national championship race.
The Buffaloes (9-2, 7-1) beat the Cornhuskers 62-36 on Friday to win the North division. It was their fourth straight win since losing 41-7 to the Longhorns in October.
Texas (10-1, 7-1) beat Texas A&M 21-7 Friday, then was handed the South division crown when Oklahoma lost 16-13 to Oklahoma State on Saturday.
"We're going to play for the Big 12 title and maybe have a shot at the national title. What more can you ask for?" said Longhorns cornerback Quentin Jammer. "This is the chance we've been dreaming of.
"It's going to be great to play Colorado since nobody expected them to be in Dallas either. They're not the same team that came to Austin. They will come to Dallas with a lot of confidence and emotion. We will be prepared, too. It's going to be a great game."
For the No. 3 Longhorns, playing in the Big 12 championship comes with more risk than reward.
The risky part is that Texas likely would've been invited to a Bowl Championship Series game as an at-large team if Oklahoma had won the South.
Now the Longhorns must beat No. 9 Colorado to get in; lose and they're out of the BCS and the $13 million payday that comes with it. A loss also might sink them below the Sooners in the pecking order of second-tier bowls.
The best part for UT is the chance of advancing to the national championship game.
The odds, though, aren't good. In addition to beating the Buffaloes, the Longhorns would need two losses Saturday among No. 1 Miami, No. 2 Florida and No. 4 Oregon.
Then again, it wasn't likely that Nebraska and Oklahoma would both lose their regular-season finales. The Cornhuskers and Sooners went into the weekend ranked Nos. 2 and 4 and were a combined 21-1, with the one loss by OU in their head-to-head meeting.
"I had imagined this might happen, but I didn't want to let my imagination get too carried away," UT offensive lineman Mike Williams said.
Texas' only loss this season was to Oklahoma. The Longhorns have won six straight since and haven't trailed in the second half.
The Colorado game was the second one in that march.
The Buffaloes went into Austin on a five-game winning streak, but committed three early turnovers and missed a field goal. Texas scored a touchdown on its opening drive, got two more in the second quarter then poured it on in the second half.
"I'm really anticipating playing Texas, because they beat us and beat us pretty bad," Colorado safety Robbie Robinson said. "It's one of those blemishes on our record we'd like to get redemption for."
This will be the Longhorns' third appearance in the 6-year-old Big 12 championship.
Colorado's first appearance is especially impressive considering the Buffs went 3-8 last season.