Kansas backed its way into a BCS bowl. And into a spotlight that has the Jayhawks being doubted all over again.

For all they've done and accomplished this season, the Jayhawks find themselves facing yet another moment of proof against Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl.

And the Big 12's reputation may be at stake.

Oklahoma belongs in conversations about the nation's best teams. Despite their slip-ups at Colorado and Texas Tech, the Sooners are uncommonly good on offense and defense. Not many can make that claim.

And OU answered the major calls of the conference, including beating Missouri — twice.

But who else in this league's seven-state corridor carries a real fear factor?

That's the question nationally, where the Big 12 has been billed as lacking since midseason.

It didn't help that Nebraska and Texas A&M flopped and Texas turned ordinary.

Now the Big 12 is seeking statement teams. And only OU and KU carry such opportunity, with the conference's other six bowl teams all involved in rather unspectacular minor matchups.

Win or lose against talented West Virginia, the Sooners return in 2008 as a national title favorite.

It's the rest of the Big 12 that requires a face lift.

And it's all on the Jayhawks, a heavy burden for a program that hasn't been on this stage in four decades.

The 'Hawks lost their only true test in the regular-season finale against Missouri.

Truth be told, the Tigers would better serve the Big 12 in the BCS — and are more deserving. But the Orange picked KU, despite Mizzou's head-to-head win and its better standing in the BCS rankings.

So KU it'll be.

Here's hope, however, for the Jayhawks: Virginia Tech may not be all that, either.

The Hokies earned their Orange berth by winning the ACC, which is inferior in every way to the Big 12.

For KU, this rates as a winnable game.

For the Big 12's sake, it better be.