It was a great time to be a Big 12 football fan in the early 2000’s. From 2000-2004, Kansas State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas, and Colorado all had teams ranked in the top five at some point during those years. Add to that the fact that Oklahoma won the national championship in 2000, and it’s easy to say the Big 12 conference produced some of the best teams, had some of the best games and gave college football fans some of the best moments of the early 2000s. As a result, coming up with a list of the top Big 12 games from 2000-2004 was a lot of fun.
I prioritized games of national significance between ranked teams versus games that didn’t have as many eyes on them. I came up with the top five games and five “honorable mention.” Hope you enjoy looking back at some of the best Big 12 games from 2000-2004.
2000: Kansas State 29 Nebraska 28
This was a battle for the Big 12 North title, as number four Nebraska visited number 16 Kansas State on a cold 17-degree day in Manhattan. Kansas State receiver Quincy Morgan had seven catches for 199 yards and two touchdowns in the game, including the game-winner with 2:52 left to play. Nebraska’s Dan Alexander rushed for 130 yards and had two touchdowns.
K-State had a 23-14 lead going into the 4th quarter, but Nebraska responded by scoring two unanswered touchdowns to take a 28-23 lead. Shortly before the game-winning touchdown pass from K-State quarterback Jonathan Beasley to Quincy Morgan, it started to snow heavily. K-State fans still refer to this game as “The Snow Game.” After the go-ahead touchdown, K-State held Nebraska on downs to seal the victory and some of the K-State players celebrated by making snow angels on the field.
You can view the highlights on YouTube here:
2004: Oklahoma 42 Texas A&M 35
Number two Oklahoma visited number 22 Texas A&M and gave us a classic game. Oklahoma quarterback Jason White had five touchdown passes and 292 yards and Adrian Peterson had 101 yards rushing.
Texas A&M built a 14 point lead in the second quarter and held a seven-point lead into the third quarter when starting quarterback Reggie McNeal was knocked out of the game with an injury. Reserve quarterback Ty Branyon had to finish the game.
Oklahoma scored three straight touchdowns to take a 35-28 lead after being down 28-14. A&M scored a touchdown on a fake field goal with 10 minutes left in the game to tie it at 35, but Oklahoma scored a touchdown with six minutes left to go ahead by seven points. A&M threw a Hail Mary at the end of regulation that was almost caught, but Oklahoma held on for the 42-35 victory.
You can view the game highlights here:
2002: Texas Tech 48 Texas A&M 47
Mike Leach and Texas Tech visited RC Slocum and 23rd ranked Texas A&M in this shootout that Texas Tech won 48-47 in overtime. A&M quarterback Dustin Long threw a then-Big 12 record seven touchdown passes and Texas Tech quarterback Kliff Kingsbury threw for five touchdown passes and 474 yards.
Texas A&M had a 35-17 lead in the 4th quarter but Texas Tech scored 21 unanswered points, the go-ahead touchdown on an 89-yard punt return touchdown by Wes Welker, to take a 38-35 lead. Texas A&M wasn’t done scoring in regulation, scoring a touchdown, and taking a 41-38 lead. Texas A&M kicker John Pierson missed the extra point and Tech drove down the field to tie the game on a field goal to send the game to overtime. Texas A&M had the ball first in overtime and scored a touchdown, only to have Pierson miss his second extra point. Tech was able to score a touchdown on their possession and make the extra point to seal the victory.
You can watch the game on YouTube here:
2001: Nebraska 20 Oklahoma 10
Both number three Nebraska and defending national champion and second-ranked Oklahoma came into this game in Lincoln undefeated. It was close throughout with Nebraska clinging to a three-point lead with six minutes left in the game when Frank Solich called a double reverse pitch back and Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch caught a 63-yard touchdown pass from true freshman Mike Stuntz to go ahead 20-10, which ended up being the final margin of victory. This was the last time that these two programs played each other when both were in the top five in the country. At the time of this game, Oklahoma was ranked number one in the BCS rankings and Nebraska was number two.
2001: Colorado 39 Texas 37
The 2001 Big 12 Championship game saw number three Texas taking on number nine Colorado. Mack Brown vs. Gary Barnett. With a win, Texas might have played in the national championship game, but Colorado spoiled those plans. Colorado running back Chris Brown rushed for 182 yards and three touchdowns Colorado took advantage of three Chris Simms interceptions and a fumble to get the victory.
Colorado built a 29-10 lead in the first half before Major Applewhite replaced an injured Chris Simms and threw a 79-yard touchdown pass to cut the lead to 29-17 at halftime. Colorado built a 36-17 lead in the 3rd quarter, but Texas kicked two field goals to cut the lead to 36-23. With the game seemingly in hand, Colorado had a 4th and three on the Texas 49 yard line with 9:25 left in the game and inexplicably called a fake punt that was intercepted by Texas and returned for a touchdown. Following the touchdown, Colorado went on a long drive, helped by a roughing the punter penalty by Texas, to kick a field goal to go up 39-20. Texas scored a touchdown late and tried an onside kick that was unsuccessful, giving Colorado the 39-37 victory. Within a week of this game, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas all had an opportunity to play for the national championship with victories. Nebraska lost 62-36 to Colorado, Oklahoma lost 16-13 to Oklahoma State, and Texas lost 39-37 to Colorado.
You can watch the game on YouTube here:
2003 Oklahoma State 51 Texas Tech 49
Number 24 Oklahoma State beat Number 23 Texas Tech in a game where there were 1,334 yards gained between the two teams. Oklahoma State running back Tatum Bell ran for 238 yards.
2004 Oklahoma 38 Oklahoma State 35
Number 20 Oklahoma State almost pulled the upset of Number two Oklahoma. Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson rushed for 249 yards.
2002 Texas A&M 30 Oklahoma 26
Texas A&M beat number one Oklahoma in a close game in College Station. A&M receiver Terrence Murphy had 128 yards receiving and two touchdowns.
2004 Texas A&M 29 Colorado 26
Number 17 Texas A&M beat Colorado in overtime. A&M quarterback Reggie McNeal had 382 yards of total offense.
2002 Texas 17 Kansas State 14
Both Texas and Kansas State had great teams in 2002, with Texas finishing the season ranked number six and K-State ranked number seven. This one was close throughout. Texas kicked a field goal to go up 17-14 with 1:32 left in the game and K-State had a chance to tie it and send it to overtime with six seconds left, but their 36-yard field goal attempt was blocked. I was out of town for a weekend event and watched this game at a bar in downtown Wichita. Right before Jared Brite attempted the game-tying field goal I commented to the guy sitting next to me “he (Brite) looks scared to death.” He said, “he sure does.” Sure enough, the kick was low and blocked and Texas left Manhattan with the victory.
*If you like what you’ve read from Joe Mathieu, find more on his personal K-State site: https://www.kstatejoe.com/*