Big 12 had nation's worst bowl performance

January, 12, 2011
1/12/11
2:00
PM ET
I said it repeatedly when the bowl slate was first released: The Big 12 had a decent chance to finish 8-0 in the bowl season.

It wouldn't be easy. It wasn't expected. But seven teams -- everyone except Texas A&M -- were favored to win and the Aggies were the only one of five ranked Big 12 teams who was matched up with a ranked opponent.

The league finished 3-5. Conference USA, at 2-4, was the only league that fared worse.

That's a pretty pathetic effort.

The Big Ten's New Year's Day meltdown -- the league went 0-5 with a pair of blowout losses to the SEC -- attracted plenty of attention. But the 80-yard touchdown given up that was the Big Ten's performance that day, the Big 12 preferred a slow, plodding, week-long drive toward lousiness.

Fitting, considering the inability to prevent similar drives produced the Big 12's weak postseason showing. The inability to stop the run was no doubt the biggest culprit of the 3-5 finish.

Missouri gave up 219 yards to Iowa running back Marcus Coker, and the Tigers had the best day defending the run of any Big 12 bowl loser. That's exactly how bad it was.

Baylor, Nebraska, Kansas State and Texas A&M all gave up more than 250 yards on the ground and lost.

The Big Ten equaled the Big 12's 3-5 finish in bowl games, but there was a big difference: Three of the Big Ten's losses came to ranked teams, including one from an unranked team (Michigan) playing a ranked team. Northwestern, meanwhile, lost to Texas Tech as nine-point underdogs and Penn State lost to Florida as a touchdown underdog.

What exactly was the Big 12's excuse? Nebraska (10-3), which was a two-touchdown favorite, headlined the weak efforts, dropping a 19-7 game to Washington (6-6). Missouri (10-2) looked in control of Iowa (7-5) before a late interception thrown by Blaine Gabbert turned the game in the Hawkeyes' favor. Texas A&M got, quite simply, outclassed by an LSU team that made the Aggies look like they didn't belong.

Only Oklahoma and Oklahoma State turned in performances they could be happy with. Texas Tech nearly blew a 31-13 lead against Northwestern before winning, 45-38.

Those 3-5 records from the Big Ten and Big 12 look identical, but there's really no comparison. No league was a bigger disappointment in the bowl season than the Big 12.

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