The Worst: Big 12 Championship Games

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Conference championship games are more of a recent phenomenon when it comes to the last century-plus of college football. We really didn’t start having these games until the ’90s.

One of those conference championship games that started in the 90s was the Big 12, which came together when the Big Eight decided to bring in Texas Tech, Baylor, Texas A&M and Texas (that also includes the Longhorn Network) to become the Big Eight Plus Four (or the Big 12 for short).

The first Big 12 title game started in 1996 and it continued on until realignment changed everything. Yes, because TCU and West Virginia joined the conference, there would be no more conference championship game. Of course, it might also have been because A&M, Missouri, Colorado and Nebraska all left.

But now, the Big 12 title game is back. It doesn’t have the North and South Divisions facing off, but I guess it still works.

For this edition of the Worst, we’ll focus on some memorable and not so memorable moments of the Big 12 Championship Game. And for some of these teams, I’m pretty sure a lot of them would like to forget about these games. So…let’s create some pain!

5. Nebraska runs over Texas A&M, 54-15– 1997

This was arguably one of the last great teams for the Nebraska Cornhuskers. It certainly was the last season for Tom Osbourne, who retired after the season. The Cornhuskers went undefeated that season, winning the Orange Bowl over Tennessee. They didn’t win the national title outright (they were second in the AP Poll), but they did win it with the Coaches Poll. Additionally, the Bowl Alliance crowned them the National Champions.

Texas A&M meanwhile got off to a good start, winning five straight, including a road win over 16th-ranked Colorado. Back-to-back losses at Kansas State and Texas Tech nearly derailed the Aggies efforts. However, they regrouped to win out and clinch the South Division.

The Aggies hoped to derail Nebraska’s hopes and dreams of winning a national title. That didn’t happen, unfortunately. Nebraska scored 23 points in the first 20 minutes of game time. Texas A&M scored on a field goal in the second quarter. They wouldn’t score again until the fourth. Nebraska went into the half with a 37-3 lead.

Quarterback Scott Frost and running back Ahman Green led the attack for the Cornhuskers. Frost had two touchdowns, while Green scored three.

Texas A&M went on to the Cotton Bowl, where they lost to Cade McNown and the fifth-ranked UCLA Bruins.

4. Oklahoma wipes out Missouri 62-21– 2008

The 2008 season featured a couple of really good Big 12 teams in Oklahoma and Missouri. Oklahoma lost once to Texas in the regular season and dominated thereafter. Led by Heisman-winning quarterback Sam Bradford, the Sooners led the nation in scoring, averaging 51.1 points per game.

Missouri, meanwhile, had a pretty good offense in its own right. They were sixth in the nation in scoring, averaging 42.2 points per game. The Tigers had losses to Oklahoma State, Texas, and even Kansas. However, they managed to do enough to win the North Division.

So you have two top 10 offenses, that means a lot of scoring, right? Well, there was a lot of scoring. However, that honor went to the Sooners, who scored 31 unanswered in the second quarter to pull away from the Tigers.

Oklahoma went on to the BCS Title Game, where they would lose to the Florida Gators. As for Missouri, they went to the Alamo Bowl, defeating Northwestern. Coincidentally, that would be the last time Missouri made it to the Big 12 Championship game.

3. Darren Sproles and Kansas State Ruin Oklahoma’s Undefeated Season– 2003

I heard somewhere that if you say “Darren Sproles” in the mirror three times, Sproles will crash through the mirror and score a touchdown on the Sooners. It remains to be seen if Gary Patterson will be doing that thing before Saturday’s game.

Oklahoma came into this game as arguably the best team in college football. We’ve been talking about a top-five team both offensively and defensively. What did the Sooners do in 2003? Simply put, they kicked ass.

All the Sooners needed to do was get past the Kansas State Wildcats and compete in the Sugar Bowl for a shot at the national championship.

On the flip side, halfway through the season, it didn’t look like Kansas State would even make the conference championship. They lost to Marshall at home and followed up with back-to-back road losses at Texas and Oklahoma State, putting them at 4-3.

The Wildcats recovered, winning six straight, including all five games against their division foes, to clinch the North outright. Kansas State had gone winless in its two previous tries. Would the third time be a charm?

The reality is, it looked a little better for Oklahoma. Kejuan Jones scored for the Sooners early in the first quarter to give them a 7-0 lead. Unfortunately for them, it would be the only score on the night for Oklahoma.

Kansas State finally got on the board to tie the game 7-7 early in the second thanks to an Ell Roberson 19-yard touchdown pass to Brian Casey. Roberson wasn’t done, though. Minutes later, he connected with James Terry on a 60-yard touchdown pass to give the Wildcats the 14-7 lead.

The Sooners tried to tie, but couldn’t capitalize on the opportunity. Kansas State’s final blow before the half came on a Roberson screen pass to a 5-6 running back who was nicknamed Tank. This Tank exploded through the middle of the field and took it 60 yards to give the Wildcats a 21-7 lead heading into the halftime.

Kansas State added two touchdowns in the second half and knocked off the top-ranked Sooners. As for Sproles, he had 235 rushing yards and 88 yards receiving.

The Wildcats would take that automatic qualifier berth and advance to the Fiesta Bowl where they would fall to Ohio State. I’d make a Bill Snyder/Fiesta Bowl jacket joke, but I’ve already done that once this year.

As for Oklahoma, they still made it to the Sugar Bowl and had a chance to win the national championship, but they lost to LSU.

2. Nebraska loses to Texas in controversial fashion– 2009

Oh yeah, Nebraska fans! We’re covering this! What can we say about a game in which the time ran out, but oh wait, the refs reviewed it and time wasn’t out and the other team kicked a game-winning field goal? You can certainly say it sucks. Nobody wants to lose like that.

Of course, the Pelini brothers losing their mind after it happened probably didn’t help their cause.

What could have Nebraska done differently, though? Well, the Huskers could’ve done much better offensively. You can’t just kick four field goals and expect to come out on top. You need to score touchdowns. Change one of those field goals into touchdowns and we’re talking about a much different game.

It probably would’ve helped Nebraska a bit to run the ball a little better. It’s never a good sign when you have 67 yards on 35 carries.

But hey, let’s blame the officiating. You do whatever.

1. Texas posts 70 on Colorado– 2005

I’m amazed that the Longhorn Network doesn’t show all of the 2005 college football season during the offseason, not just the Rose Bowl game against USC.

I would think people would want to just watch Texas kick ass over and over and over and over and over again, and not get sick watching.

Meanwhile, Colorado won the Big 12 North on account of the fact that they were the only team within the division to finish above .500 in conference play. The Buffaloes won the division despite losing to Iowa State and Nebraska at the end of the season.

Not many teams go into a conference championship game with a two-game losing streak, but Colorado did that season. The losing skid for them would continue. Texas marched in and marched out after outscoring Colorado 70-3.

It’s worth pointing out that Texas did all of their scoring in the first three quarters. They clearly felt comfortable enough with a 67-point lead.

You know the story from there. Texas wins the national title. Meanwhile, Colorado plays Clemson in the Champs Sports Bowl and loses.

With the Big 12 Title Game returning this weekend, it should be fun seeing what happens. Perhaps we’ll see a new Worst moment for one of these two teams.