Sure, the Big 12 was left out of the inaugural college football playoff, but the conference's postseason experiences have been far from completely negative. Whether it was Texas taking down the USC dynasty or Oklahoma whacking Alabama in last year's Sugar Bowl, the Big 12 has played a part in plenty of memorable postseason games. Then again, its teams have lost a few heartbreakers too. With bowl season nearing, let's look back at some of those memorable games.
Facing the No. 1 defense in the nation, Oklahoma was confident its Heisman-winning quarterback, Jason White, could find a way to crack the Tigers. However, White and the entire Sooners’ offense struggled throughout the game, only scoring one touchdown through three quarters. Within a TD of tying LSU late in the fourth quarter, Oklahoma was shut down by the Tigers’ stingy defense as LSU held on to win the national championship. White would finish the game a mere 13-for-37 passing with 102 yards, seven sacks, and two interceptions.
Although Oklahoma quarterback and 2008 Heisman winner Sam Bradford had led the No. 1 Sooners to become the highest-scoring team in NCAA history, Florida was still favored to win the game. After all, the Gators were equipped with a Heisman winner of their own in Tim Tebow, who had fallen short of winning back-to-back Heismans at Bradford’s expense. Despite the talent under center, defense dominated the game and the score was knotted at 14 in the fourth quarter. When Florida pushed up by a field goal, Tebow sealed the deal with a 76-yard touchdown drive that gave the Gators their second national title in three years.
After compiling its first undefeated season in 26 years, Oklahoma was the nation’s top team and immediately trending upwards under coach Bob Stoops. However, they still weren’t favored to win against powerhouse Florida State, the reigning national champion. The Seminoles, who averaged over 45 points per game, were 10-point favorites, but their offense didn’t score a single point against a gritty Sooner defense.
The final score isn’t much of an indication of the excitement of this game. Texas got off to an early lead, dominating on both sides of the ball. However, in an unfortunate turn of events for the Longhorns, senior quarterback Colt McCoy was knocked out of the game on Texas’ fifth offensive play after a vicious hit caused him to lose feeling in his right arm. Alabama then stormed to a 24-6 lead by halftime, but Texas wasn’t about to cry uncle. With freshman backup QB Garrett Gilbert leading the charge, the Longhorns pulled within three, 24-21, with 6:15 left in the game. Texas then had a chance to take the lead with three minutes remaining, but Gilbert was stripped of the ball and the Longhorns were subsequently stripped of their national title hopes.
Texas, considered by many to have been snubbed a chance at the national title, was heavily favored over the Buckeyes, a prophecy that seemed justified when the Longhorns held 17-6 lead heading into the fourth quarter. However, Terrell Pryor and Todd Boeckman, who were both platooning at quarterback, unleashed a torrent of scoring in the final quarter, posting 15 unanswered points and taking a 21-17 lead with 2:05 left. But Texas wasn’t done. On a memorable 78-yard drive in the waning minutes, Colt McCoy, who passed for 414 yards on the night, connected with Quan Cosby for the 26-yard game-winning touchdown.
Alabama was poised to defend its title throne until it was shocked by Auburn on the final play of the Iron Bowl. Armed with Heisman runner-up A.J. McCarron, the 17.5-point favorite Crimson Tide came out looking like they were about to put a whooping on Oklahoma. Alabama scored on its first drive and then intercepted Trevor Knight on OU’s opening drive. But then the Tide lost control. McCarron was intercepted on the ensuing drive and the Sooners cashed in and never looked back, establishing a 31-17 lead by the half. Alabama would pull within a touchdown twice in the second half, but Oklahoma fended the Tide off and shocked the defending champs.
Quarterbacks Andrew Luck and Brandon Weeden engaged in a back-and-forth duel of first-round picks when the Cardinal and Cowboys met. Luck, who threw for 347 yards, nudged Stanford to an early 14-0 lead, but Oklahoma State soon fired back with a pair of touchdowns from Weeden to Justin Blackmon who scored three TDs that night and later became a first-round pick. The Cardinal had a chance to win in regulation, but their kicker, Jordan Williamson, missed, sending the game into overtime. With glory in sight, Williamson missed again in overtime, and Oklahoma State put the icing on its best season in program history by making a field goal on the ensuing drive.
Michigan brought a 10-point lead into the fourth quarter, but the Wolverines were about to become the first victims of Vince Young’s Rose Bowl legacy. The redshirt sophomore quarterback ran for two touchdowns in the fourth quarter, putting the Longhorns up 35-34. Michigan then reclaimed the lead with a field goal with 3:05 left, but it was Texas who would get the last laugh. Young led the Longhorns down the field on the ensuing drive and set up a field goal from Dusty Mangum, who chipped in a 37-yarder to cap an electrifying finish.
A non-BCS team who hadn’t beaten a ranked team all season, undefeated Boise State had everything to prove under first-year head coach Chris Petersen. The Broncos established an early lead against a tough Oklahoma team, but the Sooners rallied back from a 28-10 deficit to claim a 35-28 lead with 1:02 remaining. With 18 seconds left and facing fourth-and-18, Boise State pulled off a perfectly executed “hook and lateral,” tying the game and forcing overtime. Trickery would also win the Broncos the game. Instead of forcing a second overtime, they pulled off a two-point conversion with a Statue of Liberty fake that put Boise State on the map.
Getty ImagesJonathan Ferrey
1. 2006 Rose Bowl: No. 2 Texas 41, No. 1 USC 38
Pitting the nation’s only two undefeated teams against each other, the 2006 Rose Bowl was billed as one of the most anticipated matchups in college football history, and it yielded arguably the best bowl game to date. Texas had the 2005 Heisman runner-up Vince Young, but USC was armed with the 2005 and 2004 Heisman winners, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, respectively. After a back-and-forth battle through three quarters, the Trojans added two touchdowns in the fourth to increase their lead to 38-26 with 6:42 left. Game over, right? Enter Young, who assembled one of the greatest clutch performances in BCS history, driving the Longhorns to victory and snapping USC’s 34-game winning streak.