Big 12 football wasn’t on great display throughout their bowl week. Let’s review the final three college football bowl games and talk about what it all means for the conference.
Michigan State 42, Baylor 41
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This was probably the most exciting game despite it not ending in a Big 12 win. Sparty kept up offensively and had over 550 yards. Bryce Petty was great completing 36-of-51 passes for 550 yards, three touchdowns, and one pick, and Baylor had over 600 yards of passing with a 53-yd touchdown via trick play with receiver Jay Lee connecting to Corey Coleman.
However, there was no running attack at all from Baylor. They actually ended up with -20 yards with Petty’s negative accumulation. While it felt like the Bears had this locked up with a 20-point lead late in the third quarter, everything went MSU’s way as they scored 21 points in the fourth to come back and win.
UCLA 40, Kansas State 35
It’s the handshake heard around the world. After a Wildcats player leaped over a victory formation and looking to hit Bruins quarterback Brett Hundley, UCLA head coach Jim Mora snubbed Bill Snyder on the handshake and then went back to have a chat with him about his displeasure on the situation. Mora denied there was anything weird in the presser, but then said he would “defend the safety of my players…forever” on Twitter.
I find it really hard to see how Mora was defending his players by snubbing a handshake toward one of the most respected coaches in college football history, denying anything in public, then hiding behind Twitter to defend his actions. Now I won’t go full Twitter police mode and say Mora’s “classless,” but he could have handled the situation much better. I’d highly doubt Snyder had anything to do with the move.
Oh, as for the game? Kansas State showed up late to the party with a 31-6 deficit at halftime. They almost had a solid comeback attempt, but fell short when they couldn’t recover an onside kick inside two minutes.
Oklahoma State 30, Washington 22
Jan 2, 2015; Tempe, AZ, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys running back Desmond Roland celebrates with the offensive player of the game trophy following the game against the Washington Huskies in the 2015 Cactus Bowl at Sun Devil Stadium. Oklahoma State defeated Washington 30-22. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Cowboys got off to a quick 24-0 start and held on in an ugly second half to win the game. Quarterback Mason Rudolph had a good game completing 17-of-26 passes for almost 300 yards and had two touchdowns and one pick. Desmond Roland had 123 yards as he took over the running game for OSU.
The team responded very well after losing Tyreek Hill and having to start a freshman quarterback. A tough year with five straight losses ended with a win over Oklahoma and they backed it up with a solid bowl win over a good Huskies football squad. OSU was down this year, but they won’t be on the ground for too long.
Big 12 bowl overview
While TCU blowing away Ole Miss was fun to watch, the conference went a dismal 2-5 overall. Only the SEC was a bigger disappointment among Power Five schools — not by record, but with how teams with higher expectations failed.
Even more disappointing was my predictions. I predicted they would go 5-2, and I picked every single game wrong. 0-7 for the postseason. But that’s still as impressive as picking them all correctly — it’s hard to nail them all right or wrong…correct??
What does it all mean for the Big 12?
Honestly, I don’t put too much stock in how conferences do as a whole in the bowl season. Some teams face head coaching changes, level of interest differs, etc. There were so many slow starts — only MSU/Baylor felt like both teams showed up at the same time. College football bowl exhibitions are just about the most worthless thing postseason wise in all of sports unless you’re a fan of the teams. It looks bad for the Big 12 though, especially when their power duo of Oklahoma and Texas just looked awful. Clearly the conference was held up by TCU and Baylor.
Still, it’s also pretty clear that Florida State, despite being undefeated, shouldn’t have been in the College Football Playoff. Neither them or Ohio State belonged ahead of TCU — the CFP committee should have just held chalk instead of overreacting after conference championship weekend. At least the Buckeyes backed it up.
it’s also pretty clear that Florida State, despite being undefeated, shouldn’t have been in the College Football Playoff.
While Baylor and their fans can hold on to head-to-head all they want, TCU was the better team if you look at the full 13-game package. Until there’s an actual formula in place that says winning your conference gets you into the postseason, it doesn’t matter that the Bears are the true conference champion. TCU being better than Baylor is not even debatable at this point.