Re-ranking the 2017-18 Big 12 football bowl games
Big 12 football is officially over. It’s sad, especially considering OU held a 17-point lead against Georgia. But let’s look back on this bowl season. A couple of weeks ago we ranked the Big 12 bowl games in order of least interesting to most interesting. You can find that list here.
But now that all the games have been played, let’s go ahead and re-rank that list based on how the games actually played out from worst to first!
8. Heart of Dallas Bowl: West Virginia lost to Utah 30-14
Chris Chugunov stinks and the offensive game plan was incredibly unimaginative considering the Mountaineers had three weeks to prepare. The weather was bad, but the crowd was even worse. This was, by far, as dismal a game as there was in the Big 12 this bowl season. Dana Holgorsen avoids blame, mostly, since Grier was hurt and Crawford didn’t play, but quietly he fell to 1-4 in bowl games as the head coach in Morgantown.
#HailWV takes the field at #HOD in front of a less than ideal crowd at the Cotton Bowl #Big12FB #UtahvsWV pic.twitter.com/uQwD28vM4e
— Heartland College Sports (@Heartland_CS) December 26, 2017
7. Birmingham Bowl: Texas Tech lost to USF 38-34
The Red Raiders nearly pulled this one off, until the defense (who else?), blew the game on the final drive against Quinton Flowers. That’s a tough way to end the season for Tech in a game that also was mired in bad weather and a disappointing showing from fans of both teams. But hopefully the 15 extra practices will pay off for the Red Raiders as Kliff Kingsbury heads into a 2018 season where he remains on the hot seat.
6. Cactus Bowl: Kansas State beat UCLA 35-17
UCLA QB Josh Rosen didn’t play in this game, which took away a lot of the intrigue surrounding it. But there were some solid storylines as Skylar Thompson was replaced by Alex Delton, who had a big game with 20 carries for 158 yards as Kansas State came back from down double digits to smoking the Bruins. K-State made the halftime adjustments and outscored UCLA 28-0 in the third and fourth quarters. Is it the last game of Bill Snyder’s career? We don’t know and he wouldn’t answer it after the game.
5. Camping World Bowl: Oklahoma State beat Virginia Tech 30-21
It was a good game, but it wasn’t especially well played by the Pokes. In fact, it might have been the worst game they played all season. The run defense was abysmal and the coaching decisions were suspect, but ultimately, Mike Gundy sent a very good group of seniors out with a victory. They deserved it, but they probably wouldn’t mind replaying this one, as there wasn’t much on the field that will go down as memorable.
4. Texas Bowl: Texas beats Missouri 33-16
The Longhorns were basically playing their second stringers, especially on defense, and still held Drew Locke and the high-flying Missouri offense to under 20 points. This was maybe the biggest and best surprise of the bowl season for the Big 12 conference. While it only caps off a mediocre 7-6 season, there is reason to believe that Tom Herman has his guys buying in, and on the back of a great recruiting class during the early signing period, there’s plenty of reason for optimism in Austin. Just cautious optimism, since we’ve been down this road far too many times in recent years.
3. Liberty Bowl: Iowa State beats Memphis 21-20
I almost made this game #2 on my list, but I held it back to #3. The reason being, had the AAC beaten two Big 12 teams in bowl season, the dopes in that conference would keep using their “Power 6” moniker, essentially trying to justify they are on the same level as the Big 12. The fact that Iowa State, which had its two starting safeties suspended the morning of the game, was able to hold one of the best offenses in the country to 20 points is remarkable. Matt Campbell and defensive coordinator John Heacock deserve an enormous amount of credit for the game plan, while also keeping their guys humble, hungry and motivated, as well as confident. I can’t wait to see what’s to come in Ames.
2. Alamo Bowl: TCU beats Stanford 39-37
Just another Alamo Bowl where Gary Patterson has to erase a massive deficit and pull off a victory. What a game this was. If you had told me there would be a Big 12 bowl game, or hell, any bowl game, more exciting than this one, I would’ve called you crazy. Stanford led this game 21-3, but Patterson’s guys never gave up. It was an excellent win over one of the best and most consistent programs in all of college football. Patterson did his program, and the entire Big 12 conference, a solid by pulling off this win, which was the best victory the conference had in the bowl season.
1. Rose Bowl: Oklahoma loses to Georgia 54-48
Wow. What. A. Game. It’s sure one of those games that Oklahoma fans are going to get sick over for years to come. The play calling at the end of regulation and in overtime was inexcusable. Lincoln Riley will learn a lot from this game. But seeing Baker Mayfield choked up after this one had all of OU Nation wondering, “what could have been?” A first half that looked so promising, including a 31-14 lead, was erased thanks to a spotty run defense that allowed the Bulldogs to rack up over 300 yards per game at nearly 10 yards per carry. Absurd. But even though it resulted in a loss, the Sooners played a helluva game and it will be one we remember, and second guess, for the foreseeable future.