Monday, January 14, 2013
The Big 12's best moments of 2012
By David Ubben
The season is done, and our 2012 wrapup continues. Today, we take a look at the best moments of 2012. Before we do that, let me take a moment to define "the best." It's not necessarily the moments that benefited or hurt the Big 12, but when I look back on the season, these are the moments I'll remember the most. I suspect you'll feel similar.
1. Another year, another disastrous 11th game. Just like Oklahoma State in the second game of back-to-back weeks on the road, in the 11th game of the season against a team under .500, 10-0 Kansas State's BCS title hopes came crashing down. This was no double-overtime thriller, though. Kansas State had rolled through its Big 12 schedule until 4-5 Baylor smited down Kansas State (the same team who ended the Bears' undefeated season a year ago) with great vengeance. That made it official: The Big 12 would be left on the outside looking into the national title game for the third consecutive season.
2. A Bedlam to remember. It was one of the best games of the year and had a huge impact on the Big 12 title race. Oklahoma erased a second-half, double-digit deficit with a fourth-down touchdown by Blake Bell and a dramatic punt return for a score from Jalen Saunders. Brennan Clay's overtime touchdown run clinched a memorable Thanksgiving weekend in the state of Oklahoma. Advantage, Sooners.
3. West Virginia's big debut. The fans in the stadium provided a pretty crazy-looking blue and gold striped stadium, and the first-ever Big 12 game in Morgantown, W.Va. was the most prolific Big 12 game ever. We saw an FBS-record 19 touchdowns and more than 1,500 yards of offense in the matchup of two top 25 teams, but West Virginia emerged with a 70-63 win.
4. TCU's Big 12 debut goes awry. Days before the first-ever Big 12 game in Fort Worth, though, was the biggest loss in a season of many for TCU. A campus drug bust was the first big distraction in January, but injuries piled up and Casey Pachall's DUI before that Iowa State game ended with him going to a treatment facility and leaving the university and his team. The Frogs had to deal with more than any team in the Big 12, but still managed to go 7-6 in a year that some might argue was Gary Patterson's best coaching job.
5. Baylor's big finish. The Bears were the story of the second half of the season, highlighted by the No. 1 moment on our list, but BU also earned the most impressive performance of any team in a bowl game. Lache Seastrunk and a defense with a penchant for turnovers helped Baylor win its final four games of the season and reach 8-5, but the Bears could be rolling into 2013.
6. Kansas State announces its Big 12 title candidacy. I was higher than most on Kansas State, but even I was skeptical that the Wildcats could truly win the Big 12. Then, they walked in as a double-digit underdog and beat Oklahoma, 24-19, with a final score that was a bit deceptive, considering Oklahoma added a late touchdown. Still, Kansas State proved it was the best team in the Big 12 over the rest of the season. This was just the game that got me believing.
7. Oklahoma celebrates its Big 12 "championship." In the same breath, I won't ever forget the Big 12's first-ever split title. Oklahoma beat TCU on the final weekend of the season, and with K-State playing later in the night, Oklahoma didn't bother to wait and see if it would be a split champion or an outright champion. Oklahoma busted out shirts and hats in the locker room, and went back on the field for a team photo. Meanwhile, Bob Stoops talked about how he didn't write the Big 12 rules, despite saying a year earlier that if his team beat Oklahoma State in the season finale, it would be clear who the real champion was.
8. WVU comes back to Earth. The Texas Tech and Kansas State losses made it painfully clear: West Virginia was not ready to compete for a Big 12 title. The Mountaineers reached No. 5 and had the Heisman frontrunner in Geno Smith. The lack of a serviceable defense and consistent running game quickly erased the memories of wins over Baylor and Texas to begin Big 12 play and began the descent for West Virginia that became a five-game losing streak.