The best and worst of the Big 12’s bowl season

For the last time this year, let’s hand out the hardware for the Big 12’s underwhelming bowl season. 

Best offensive performance: Bryce Petty, QB, Baylor. Michigan State was not going to allow Baylor to run the ball and Petty carried the Bears’ offense against a stout, experienced Spartans defense. The Bears didn’t get the win, but Petty finished with 550 yards passing and completed better than 70 percent of his passes. He also accounted for four touchdowns, though his lone interception of the day sealed the win for Michigan State. 

Honorable mention: Tyler Lockett, WR, Kansas State. 

Best defensive performance: James McFarland, DE, TCU. McFarland managed to have the shortest interception return for a touchdown in college football history. It takes talent to intercept a pass in the opposing end zone, but McFarland did it and provided one of the most surreal moments in TCU’s day of dominance. He finished with two tackles for loss, a sack and broke up a pass, too. 

Best team performance: TCU. Did the committee take the time to send hand-written notes to each member of the Frogs insulting their mothers after dropping them from No. 3 to No. 6 on the season’s final weekend? TCU played like it. The Frogs’ defense had its most dominant performance of the season in a 42-3 destruction of a top 10 Ole Miss team. 

Worst team performance: Oklahoma. The Sooners were dominated by an average Clemson team playing without its starting quarterback. This was never competitive after OU gave up a touchdown on Clemson’s first play from scrimmage and trailed 27-0 at halftime on the way to an embarrassing 40-6 defeat. Samaje Perine looked like the only Sooner who showed up ready to play. This year’s offseason will be a polar opposite of last year’s in Norman. Preparing for a playoff run? Try preparing for numerous staff changes. 

Dishonorable mention: Texas

Best play: James Castleman, DT/WR, Oklahoma State. Need a third-down conversion to seal a win? Naturally, you go playaction and find your 300-pound defensive tackle in the flat. Castleman, who also had a rushing touchdown earlier in the game, busted through a tackle and rumbled 48 yards, nearly scoring on the play. It also gave us this gem of a box score. 

Best quote: Castleman, on the end of his 48-yard reception. "The check engine light came on, and that’s when I had to fall down." 

Best Vine: When a 300-pound defensive linemen hits the truck stick, we all win. And paint loses. 

Second best play: LaQuan McGowan, OG/WR, Baylor. The big men have owned the bowl season. McGowan is listed at 390 pounds, but I’ve been told that’s almost certainly an underestimation of the 6-foot-7 guard’s size. Not many guys have "enormous" as the first word in their team bio. Leading 34-21 in the third quarter, Baylor decided to hit McGowan up the seam and he coasted into the end zone for one of the greatest touchdowns you’ll ever see.

Best celebration: McGowan and Baylor WR Antwan Goodley. In case you haven’t noticed, offensive linemen hoisting running backs into the air by their armpits like figure skaters/Simba the Lion has somehow become the celebration du jour in college football. Goodley and McGowan offered up the greatest parody of this celebration in history. 

Worst celebration: Skyler Howard. Is this where we’re at now? If anyone wants to taunt Texas A&M, they just flash Johnny Football’s money sign? I cannot stand for this. He’s been gone a full year. At the very least go thumbs down to show your disdain for gigging things. Your best bet is not to taunt an opponent after throwing an early, meaningless touchdown in your third start ever. Try again, Skyler.  

Worst unit performance: Texas’ offense. The Longhorns managed just 59 yards after having three weeks to prepare for Arkansas. The Hogs have a pretty good defense, but those 59 yards were the fewest by any FBS team in a game this year. 

Worst decorum: UCLA coach Jim Mora. Mora was reportedly upset that Kansas State dove over the pile when the Bruins were in victory formation, but the Wildcats trailed by only five and it was absolutely not an attempt to injure anyone. Did K-State break an unwritten rule of football? Sure, but to say it was endangering players is a little much. Mora went way overboard by reportedly dropping an F bomb on Kansas State coach Bill Snyder during the postgame handshake. He did return after a brief original shake, but according to my Twitter followers, he joins then-Nebraska defensive coordinator Bo Pelini and then-Colorado coach Gary Barnett as the only men to reportedly F bomb Snyder to his face. Mora also didn’t help himself with a sheepish postgame subtweet about protecting his players directed at Snyder. Less than 24 hours later, he’d deleted his Twitter account. That’s a first. 

Best gesture: TCU S Sam Carter. If you talk to players, they’ll tell you the lavish bowl gifts (which often include $500 shopping sprees at electronics stores and other things anybody would love) are the highlight of bowl appearances, save the game itself. Carter got his bowl gifts but gave them away during a visit to a children’s hospital before TCU’s Peach Bowl win over Ole Miss. Those gifts included an Apple TV, Visa and Chick-Fil-A gift cards, a watch and a football. Salute, Mr. Carter. That’s extremely rare. 

Worst quarter: Baylor’s fourth quarter. The feel of an entire season can change in just 15 minutes. Baylor rolled to a successful Big 12 title defense and, leading by 20 heading into the fourth quarter, looked on its way to sending the committee a strong message about why it shouldn’t have been excluded from the playoff. Then Michigan State scored the game’s last 21 points and Baylor is left starting at another big bowl disappointment until next fall and can’t help but feel like part of its Big 12 title has been marred. 

Best tweets: Baylor kicker Chris Callahan. After getting flattened in one of the most brutal hits of the season, Callahan tweeted he was still "alive" after the game and shared an exchange with Michigan State’s Tony Lippett, who delivered the blow. 

Craziest stat: After Baylor’s loss, the Big 12 is now 0-13 all-time in nonconference games at Cowboys Stadium. (This does not count TCU’s wins while a MWC member or Texas A&M and Missouri’s wins while members of the SEC.)