With bowl season wrapping up, it’s a good time to reflect on how the Big 12 was represented this year. The Big 12 conference had seven of its 10 teams qualify for a bowl game and posted a 5-2 record in those bowls.
The Big 12 had two teams qualify for New Year’s Six bowl games, as the Baylor Bears played in the Allstate Sugar Bowl and the Oklahoma State Cowboys played in the PlayStation Fiesta Bowl.
Let’s recap how the conference performed in these bowl games, and what stood out most about this year’s bowl season.
Dave Aranda’s Baylor Bears traveled down to New Orleans to play the Ole Miss Rebels in the Sugar Bowl, and the Bears did not disappoint. With Ole Miss star quarterback Matt Coral getting carted off with an ankle injury, the game became a defensive battle.
The play of the game happened when Baylor broke the scoreless tie early in the second quarter. Ole Miss was in scoring position facing a third down, when a pass was deflected and intercepted by Al Walcot at the four-yard line. Walcot took the ball down the sideline and returned it for a 96-yard touchdown.
Baylor would go on to score two more touchdowns and only give up one score to Rebels. The Bears went on to win the game 21-7, as Dave Aranda and company finished the season 12-2 with a Big 12 Championship and a Sugar Bowl victory.
The other Big 12 New Year’s Six bowl was a bit more offense-heavy than the Sugar Bowl, as Oklahoma State and Notre Dame went back-and-forth all game. The game featured two experienced quarterbacks playing their best football, as Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders threw for 371 yards and four touchdowns, while Notre Dame’s Jack Coan threw for 509 yards with five touchdowns.
The Irish rolled early, and it appeared the game might get out of reach for Oklahoma State when Notre Dame took a 28-7 lead in the second quarter. Oklahoma State scored a vital touchdown to cut the lead to two scores right before half to stay within striking distance.
The second half was all Oklahoma State, as the Cowboys exploded for 17 points in the third quarter and scored 30 unanswered points between the end of the second quarter and the final minutes of the fourth quarter.
Oklahoma State was able to hold onto the lead, despite a late effort from the Fighting Irish. Mike Gundy’s crew left the desert with a thrilling 37-35 win and finished the season with a 12-2 record.
The Oklahoma football program has been a mess ever since head coach Lincoln Riley decided to take the new head coaching job at USC. Quarterback Spencer Rattler decided to transfer to South Carolina, while a multitude of others have voiced their plans of leaving town.
Former Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops stepped in when the university needed him and decided to become the interim head coach. In the Alamo Bowl against the Oregon Ducks, Stoops’s Sooners showed their ability to play well without key pieces.
Oklahoma took an early lead and extended it to a commanding 30-3 margin by halftime. The Ducks came out in the second half and scored 29 points, but Oklahoma kept scoring to secure the 47-32 victory. Quarterback Caleb Williams threw for 242 yards and three touchdowns, while running back Kennedy Brooks ran for 142 yards and three scores.
The moment of the night was not held by Williams or Brooks because Drake Stoops, son of Bob Stoops, caught a big touchdown pass for the Sooners with one-on-one coverage. Stoops came to the sideline and was hugged by his father Bob in a heart-warming college football moment. Oklahoma would end up winning, 47-32.
As many already know, West Virginia faced the Minnesota Golden Gophers for the Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix, Arizona.
The game did not fare well for the Mountaineers, as Minnesota’s size and talent on both lines won them the game. While the Gophers only scored 18 points, they dominated the game throughout with constant pressure on WVU quarterback Jarret Doege, which resulted in five sacks and only one touchdown for the Mountaineers.
Minnesota scored their two touchdowns with a five-yard run by running back Ky Thomas and a two-yard touchdown run by six-foot-nine, 380-pound offensive lineman Daniel Faalele. Minnesota made a field goal in the fourth quarter that iced the game and secured the 18-6 Guaranteed Rate Bowl victory.
In a year where experts thought Iowa State would be competing for a Big 12 title, the Cyclones finished a disappointing 7-5, landing them a trip to Orlando for the Cheez-It Bowl. Their matchup was with the Clemson Tigers, another team coming off a somewhat disappointing regular season.
In Brock Purdy’s final career game at Iowa State, he threw for 204 yards with a touchdown pass and a bizarre interception. Purdy threw a pass that was deflected by a Clemson defensive lineman, but then Purdy proceeded to bat the ball when it came back to him and that was intercepted. Clemson’s Mario Goodrich took the interception back 15 yards for the Clemson touchdown.
Clemson found the end zone one other time when running back Will Shipley ran in a touchdown from 12 yards out. Iowa State only found the end zone one time, and two field goals from Clemson’s B.T. Potter helped seal a 20-13 victory for the Tigers.
In somewhat of a surprise, Texas Tech had not been bowl eligible since the 2017 season. That changed this year, even though the Red Raiders fired head coach Matt Wells during the middle of the regular season.
The Red Raiders faced Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl, as Bulldog head coach Mike Leach faced his former team. Leach had coached Texas Tech from 2000-2009, where the Red Raiders had lots of success, but he was terminated after the 2009 campaign.
In the game, Texas Tech came out firing. The Red Raiders got out to a 10-0 lead after the first quarter, but Mississippi State threw a touchdown to cut the lead to 10-7. Right before halftime, Texas Tech extended their lead to 13-7 with a short field goal.
The second half was all Red Raiders, as freshman quarterback Donovan Smith threw a touchdown and ran for one as well. Texas Tech kept Mississippi State off the scoreboard in the second half, and with a short touchdown run in the final quarter, the Red Raiders had put the game away.
Texas Tech won by a score of 34-7 and gave a look into the future with quarterback Donovan Smith throwing for 252 yards with a touchdown, as well as 30 yards and a touchdown on the ground.
The Kansas State Wildcats finished the regular season 7-5 and fell in the middle of the pack in the Big 12 standings. They matched up with a 6-6 LSU team in the Texas Bowl, with both teams shorthanded.
Kansas State made it evident that this was a business trip, as they brought one of their best performances of the season. The Wildcats stormed out to a 21-0 lead and kept LSU off the scoreboard until a last-minute touchdown before halftime to cut the lead to 21-7.
Kansas State came out of halftime still fired up, as they made the game a blowout by scoring the next three touchdowns. With the score being 42-7, LSU scored two touchdowns in the remaining five minutes to make the final score 42-20.
Skylar Thompson threw for 259 yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions, while running back Deuce Vaughn ran for 146 yards and scored three touchdowns.
The Texas Bowl blowout gave Chris Klieman’s crew an 8-5 record on the season and will give the Wildcats momentum for 2022.
Photo by Ethan Bock