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Sunday, December 7, 2008
Week 15: What we learned in the Big 12

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Here are some tidbits we learned at the Big 12's Championship Game and afterwards.

1. Bob Stoops likely didn't win many friends in "The Show Me State" with the way he was throwing for the end zone in the fourth quarter with the game safely in hand. It was particularly surprising that Sam Bradford remained in the game until just before the end of the game. You know what they say about payback. But I'm just wondering if Missouri will ever be good enough to extract it against the Sooners.

2. The gap between the North and South Divisions has never appeared wider. The South claimed a 15-3 edge in cross-division games in the regular season. And Saturday's championship was never really a contest. Since Kansas State's stunning title-game upset over Oklahoma in 2003, South teams have won the last five Big 12 title games by a combined margin of 233-51. And included in that series have been South Division victory margins of 39, 67 and 41 points.

3. Chase Daniel will go down in history as one of the greatest football players in Missouri history. But his senior season will be remembered as one of disappointment after he was unable to match the successes of his junior season. Call it the curse of the View Master campaign.

4. The best way to neutralize spread offenses is with a sure-tackling defensive unit. Oklahoma's defense might not compare to some of Brent Venables' previous groups. But the Sooners -- if anything else -- are fearsome open-field tacklers who limit yards after catch. That's why they were so effective against Missouri and Texas Tech late in the season.

5. The Big 12's bowl matchups should be interesting. The two most intriguing games will be the ones that will match Big 12 teams against the Southeastern Conference's supposedly vaunted defenses. Oklahoma's record-breaking offense, which has scored 702 points this season and was called by Missouri coach Gary Pinkel as the best he's ever seen, will likely be playing Florida for the national championship in the BCS title game. And Texas Tech's spread offense will hook up with Mississippi in the Cotton Bowl. The Southeastern Conference's reputation for defensive juggernauts will be tested against the Big 12's two most prolific passing attacks. I can't wait for the showdowns.