As we head into the 2016 college football season, it’s understandable that you might be having a tough time remembering all of the crazy things that happened last year, which ended with Alabama holding off Clemson 45-40 in the College Football Playoff championship. So with a new season upon us, we’ve decided to give you a recap of everything you may have forgotten from last year for all five power conferences in 2015. After recapping the SEC, the Pac-12 and the Big Ten, here are 20 things you may have forgotten from the Big 12 last season.
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The champs are here!
Oklahoma is the reigning Big 12 champs. OK, you probably didn’t forget that, but what you might forget is that they were virtually no one’s favorite coming into the year. TCU and Baylor were picked ahead of them in the preseason, and the Sooners began the year ranked a pedestrian No. 19 in the country overall. But then everything changed in Week 2, when the Sooners went to Tennessee and pulled out a wild double-overtime win after trailing in the fourth quarter. From there, the Sooners never really slowed down, winning the ninth Big 12 title of Bob Stoops’ career.
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Unfortunately for as exciting as that regular-season run was for Oklahoma, it ended in a thud: With a 37-17 loss in the playoff semifinals to Clemson. Now, the question is whether the Sooners can stay atop the Big 12 after losing stalwarts Eric Striker, Charles Tapper and Zack Sanchez off their defense and star wide receiver Sterling Sheppard on offense.
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OU brings back the Big 12's best player
Don’t feel too bad though for Oklahoma. For everyone they lost, they do return their most important player, quarterback Baker Mayfield. Mayfield was named the Big 12 offensive player of the year last year and finished fourth in Heisman Trophy voting overall, after throwing for over 3,700 yards and 36 touchdowns. Not bad for a guy who started his career as a walk-on at Texas Tech, huh?
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The Baker Mayfield Rule
Speaking of Mayfield, the biggest story in Norman in the offseason had nothing to do with football, but everything to do with Mayfield: Yes, we’re talking about the "Baker Mayfield Rule." As a quick reminder, Mayfield tried to fight a rule that said that any transfer from one Big 12 school to another has to sit out one year and lose an additional year of eligibility. Mayfield said since he wasn’t a scholarship player that shouldn’t apply for him. Unfortunately, the Big 12 disagreed and upheld the rule, with their logic being -- and I’m serious when I say this -- they were afraid it would create a black market for transfers in conference. The Big 12 eventually overturned the rule -- because, again, it’s awful logic -- and Mayfield is free to not only return for 2016 but 2017 as well.
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It wasn’t just a busy offseason at Oklahoma but Baylor, too, where Art Briles was fired as the school’s head coach. We won’t rehash the details here, but instead discuss the long-term ramifications for the Bears program overall. Following Briles’ firing, Baylor had six recruits from the class of 2016 leave the program before actually enrolling (including four who went to Texas), not to mention it left their 2017 recruiting class virtually non-existent and led to star quarterback Jarrett Stidham transferring as well. For all the talk about the shake-up prior to 2016, the real ramifications of everything won’t be felt until 2017 and beyond.
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Baylor wasted its opportunity
In terms of on the field for Baylor last year, the Bears basically did what they had always done under Briles the last few years: Win big. With arguably the most talented team in Baylor history, the Bears started 7-0, but couldn’t keep it up after a slew of injuries. First starting quarterback Seth Russell went down, then his back-up Stidham followed. It led to the Bears losing three of their final four regular-season games before bouncing back with a dominant Russell Athletic Bowl win over North Carolina.
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Those Baylor losses were incredible
Ironically, however, it was two of three Baylor’s three losses that were arguably their most memorable games from 2015. A rematch with TCU was supposed to decide the Big 12 title, but instead turned into a sloppy double-overtime loss in which the Bears turned the ball over five times in a game that was basically played in a monsoon. They followed that up with an even uglier loss a week later to Texas, when they were down to fourth-string quarterback (aka "converted wide receiver") Lynx Hawthorne.
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Texas did not improve as much as some thought
Speaking of Texas, it was an especially odd year in Austin for Charlie Strong. Things started with a historic loss at Notre Dame, and unfortunately for the Longhorns never truly got better from there. Texas finished 5-7 overall, but it wasn’t just that the Longhorns lost seven games, but how they did it. They fell to Cal on a missed PAT in the final seconds and lost to Oklahoma State thanks to a botched punt. Even worse was a shutout loss to Iowa State. Yikes!
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Texas did beat Oklahoma, though
It wasn’t all bad for the Longhorns, though, who also had a couple sparkling wins as well. There was that previously mentioned victory over Baylor and then the Red River Shootout win over Oklahoma. As it turned out, that would be the Sooners' only loss of the regular season and led to arguably the greatest moment of 2015: Seeing pictures surface all over the internet of Charlie Strong in a cowboy hat. It doesn’t get much better than that.
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The Longhorns cleaned up on Signing Day
Oh, and as good as that Oklahoma win was, the Longhorns' biggest victory actually came in February. Texas hauled in an incredible class on Signing Day and followed it up by adding four more upper-level recruits from Baylor this summer. It’s safe to say that with all that talent, the Longhorns could be a factor again in the Big 12, as soon as next season.
TCU overcame a ton
As for 2016, don’t sleep on TCU, which returns a bunch of talent off a somewhat disappointing team last season. Like Baylor, the Horned Frogs entered the season with true national championship expectations, and like Baylor lost some of their best players to injuries late in the year. Josh Doctson was named an All-American, even after missing the last three games of the year with a wrist injury. Meanwhile star quarterback Trevone Boykin missed the biggest game of the season -- at Oklahoma -- with an ankle injury, and followed it up by missing the Horned Frogs' bowl game, too, by being suspended after an incident at a Pat O’Brien’s bar. It’s like my mom once told me: Nothing good happens after midnight at Pat O’Brien’s. Or Señor Frog’s. Never forget that, kids.
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Remember the Alamo Bowl
Still, despite the disappointing end of the season, things turned up in a big way during bowl season. Without Boykin, the Horned Frogs still pulled out a win in arguably the best game in college football last season. After trailing by 31-0 at halftime, TCU’s defense pitched a shutout for the rest of regulation, winning 47-41 in triple overtime.
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Oklahoma State controlled the league until the home stretch
Lost in the TCU-Baylor conversation was Oklahoma State, which entered mid-November undefeated and in the driver’s seat to win the league. The Pokes got there with a dominant win over TCU in early November -- thanks to a huge day from wide receiver James Washington -- but couldn’t carry the momentum late into the month. Oklahoma State lost back-to-back games to Baylor and Oklahoma by a combined 45 points to end the regular season, then got beat nearly as bad (28 points) to Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl. The good news? The Pokes return 19 starters to this year’s team.
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Texas Tech's defense was depressing
Meanwhile at Texas Tech, it was a "tale of two sides of the ball" for Kliff Kingsbury’s club. Tech’s offense was simply explosive, and with 46 total TD’s quarterback Patrick Mahomes was the best player in college football that no one talked about. Unfortunately, as good as the offense was, the defense was equally as bad. Get this: Tech had two games where they scored 50-plus points ... and still lost! Can someone make a tackle in 2016?
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Kliff Kingsbury took a shot at Bret Bielema
Despite all that, the Red Raiders did still have a couple of good wins, most notably an early-season victory at Arkansas. Maybe better than the game itself was what happened after, when Kliff Kinsgbury had a rant for the ages at the postgame press conference, telling reporters that Bret Bielema "got his ass kicked." Forget anything that happened on the field, that was the most notable moment of the entire 2016 season for the Red Raiders.
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Iowa State made a change
There weren’t enough good memories on the field for Iowa State, which went just 3-9 and saw the Paul Rhoads era end after seven seasons, with no bowl appearances in the last three. Matt Campbell took over in the offseason, but Rhoads if you’re reading, just know one thing: We are soooo proud of youuuuu.
Kansas State finished strong
There were plenty of reasons for Bill Snyder to be proud of his Kansas State club last year despite the fact they finished below just 6-7 overall. The Wildcats played the entire conference as tough as anyone, losing to Oklahoma State by two and TCU and Baylor by a touchdown each. More importantly, after falling to 3-6 on the season in early November, the Wildcats won their final three games to get bowl eligible.
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We're not here to talk about the past
And if you’re wondering, yes, I am choosing to completely ignore Kansas State’s 55-0 loss to Oklahoma at home. Hey, what can I say, nobody is perfect, OK!?
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West Virginia had a season to forget
West Virginia certainly wasn’t perfect last year, in a season that was about as forgettable as they come. The Mountaineers won eight games, but got beaten up by the Big 12’s big four at the top. Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State combined to beat West Virginia by an average of nearly two touchdowns apiece. Frankly, the "highlight" of their season might have been the time that Trevone Boykin did this to the Mountaineers defense. Even Dana Holgorsen couldn’t help but appreciate the moment.
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And then there was Kansas
There wasn’t much for poor David Beaty to appreciate in his first year as Kansas’ head coach. Beaty went 0-12 after inheriting a tire fire from Charlie Weis, who was fired mid-way through the 2014 season. Even worse is that the Jayhawks' "best" performance may have been their most depressing one when the Jayhawks fell down 31-7 to FCS school South Dakota State, rallied all the way back to cut the lead to three on three separate occasions, before losing 41-38. Beaty will try to pick up his first win as Jayhawks coach on the opening weekend, when Kansas hosts URI. They can’t possibly lose that one, right?