Another summer ESPYS has come, and the Big 12 was up for a few awards.
Robert Griffin III was beaten by Jeremy Lin for the Breakthrough Athlete of the Year, and the Los Angeles Kings' unlikely run to the Stanley Cup earned them a nod for "Best Upset," over Iowa State's season-changing win over Oklahoma State.
RG3 won for Best College Athlete, but it's time to hand out a few awards of our own. It's time once again for the Big 12 Blog ESPYS.
Most memorable moment: Texas K Justin Tucker beats Texas A&M. Tucker booted a 40-yard field goal as time expired to literally silence a deafening Kyle Field and send a very talented Aggies team to 6-6 and a devastating finish to a forgettable final Big 12 season. It also gave the burnt orange faithful a claim to "Scoreboard" for a long while, until (if?) the two teams ever play again.
Best breakthrough performance: Oklahoma State. The Cowboys edge out Collin Klein for this award, but did anyone really, truly believe Oklahoma State could go all the way and win the Big 12 title in 2011? Sure, they had the horses and were good enough on paper, but you lose enough games and come up short enough over time, and people can't help but doubt you. OSU silenced those doubts in 2011. My hat is off, and the Cowboys ended the seemingly endless Oklahoma-Texas duopoly at the top of the Big 12.
Best play: RG3 beats Oklahoma. Two images will define the 2011 Big 12 season: Iowa State storming the field and RG3's bomb to Terrance Williams in the final seconds to beat Oklahoma for the first time in school history. Iowa State's upset had a big impact, but RG3 had the more memorable play, and wins the award here.
Best audience: Texas A&M fans vs. Texas. No crowd was louder for a longer period, and no atmosphere was better. Kansas State and Arkansas in the Cotton Bowl was close, but even Oklahoma State's Bedlam romp didn't compare to the Thanksgiving heartbreak at Kyle Field.
Best athlete: RG3. Not like there was any competition for this one, no?
Toughest athlete: Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State. Klein was the workhorse who took a beating and left the season with the bloodiest elbows in college football. They're healed now, and he's ready to do it again. He carried the ball 316 times last year and helped K-State win 10 games. No other QB in college football had more than 250 carries.
Best encore performance: Oklahoma State's pass-catch combo of Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden. Sure, the sequel wasn't quite as good, but that's just on the stat sheet. Who really cares? They sat together at a table in January 2011 and announced their intentions to return for one more season. What were they imagining? Exactly what they got the next fall: A Big 12 title. They parlayed that into a two spots in the NFL draft's first round this spring, too.
Best coach: Bill Snyder. The Wildcats kept on winning through all the outside doubting, and proved over and over again that they'd be a tough out for anybody. Ultimately, only Oklahoma State proved capable of shutting down the SnyderCats late-game magic, but Snyder took K-State from a modest pick of eighth place to begin the season all the way to a second-place finish and 10 wins.
Best game: Kansas State 53, Texas A&M 50 (4 OT): Kansas State found themselves trailing by 10 midway through the fourth quarter, but a long touchdown pass changed the game and K-State did what so many did to Texas A&M in 2011: Came back to win. It took four overtimes and a lot of big plays, but K-State defended their home field.
Honorable mention: Baylor 50, TCU 48; Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38 (OT)
Best finish: Lone Star Showdown. Texas A&M took the lead in the final minutes, but Texas QB Case McCoy engineered an unbelievable, unlikely final drive that got the Longhorns back in field goal range and allow Tucker to boot the game-winner. Pure drama in a game loaded with emotion from all sides.
What other awards should be handed out?