The Iowa State Cyclones beat the Oregon Ducks 34-17 in the Fiesta Bowl on Saturday, which capped off a perfect 5-0 bowl season for the Big 12 Conference.
It all started off with the Oklahoma State Cowboys, who hung on to beat the Miami Hurricanes in the Cheez-It Bowl 37-34. Then later that evening, the Texas Longhorns steamrolled the Colorado Buffaloes in the Alamo Bowl 55-23. But that wasn’t enough to save Tom Herman’s job in Austin.
The following night, the Oklahoma Sooners crushed the SEC East Champion Florida Gators in the Cotton Bowl 55-23. That disappointment from Florida led to lots of excuse making from head coach Dan Mullen.
The game was followed by a New Year’s Eve Liberty Bowl match up, where the West Virginia Mountaineers had their struggles against the Army Black Knights, but pulled off a hard-fought 24-21 victory.
Then on Saturday afternoon, Big 12 runner-up Iowa State crushed Oregon 34-17, who won the Pac-12 Conference this season.
This is a huge bounce back for the Big 12 Conference, who was coming off a 1-5 bowl season in 2019 and then suffered some brutal non-conference losses earlier in the season. While most Power 5 Conference didn’t play a non-conference schedule due to COVID-19 issues, the Big 12 did, and it came back to bite them. Kansas State lost to Arkansas State, Iowa State lost to Louisiana Lafayette and Kansas lost to Coastal Carolina.
It was a horrible way for the conference to start the season. But what this should do is rejuvenate some of the respect for the conference after not just getting these five wins, with zero losses, but the manner in which these games were won. Oklahoma and Texas didn’t just win their games, they dominated their opponents.
Many college football pundits, and SEC fan boys, insist the bowl season doesn’t matter because not every team is as motivated. Well can someone explain to me the Peach Bowl between Georgia and Cincinnati? I saw a lot of crowing from Georgia fans after they came back to win the game on a last-second field goal. So if the Bulldogs had missed the field goal we would’ve heard how their players just didn’t care. I don’t know about you, but the way the Georgia players were celebrating the field goal didn’t look like a group of guys who didn’t care about the game.
There’s plenty that should go into ranking conference hierarchy, but to not even count, or factor in, bowl games is ridiculous. They should be part of the equation along with non-conference games in September and recruiting.
But for the Big 12 Conference, this should be viewed at as a sign of pride in a year where the conference had an enormous amount of depth and two consistent Top 10 teams in Oklahoma and Iowa State, who could have definitely played with Notre Dame, who received the No. 4 College Football Playoff spot.
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