The Best Big 12 Bowl Game Finishes
There have been some exciting finishes to Big 12 bowl games over the last 25 years. A couple of these games included a national championship. Of course, all of these games were won by Big 12 teams—“Big 12 Magic.” Let’s take a brief look at 23 of them in chronological order:
1999 Holiday Bowl: No. 8 Kansas State 24, Washington 20—KSU quarterback Jonathan Beasley scores on a one-yard TD run to cap a 20-play, 92-yard drive for the winning TD as the No. 8 Wildcats defeated Washington 24-20. Beasley, the game’s MVP, scored three touchdowns.
2001 Orange Bowl (2000 BCS National Championship Game): No. 1 Oklahoma 13, No. 2 Florida State—This contest pitted the top two quarterbacks in the country—OU’s Josh Heupel, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy race and Chris Weinke, who won the award. The Seminoles had the nation’s No. 1 offense and were 12.5-point favorites. The Sooners’ defense shut it down en route to a 13-2 victory for Oklahoma’s seventh national title.
OU held onto a 6-0 lead in the fourth quarter when Rocky Calmus forced Weinke to fumble at FSU’s 15-yard line. Roy Williams recovered for the Sooners, and two plays later, Quentin Griffin bolted 10 yards for the insurance and a 13-0 lead. An errant punt snap gave the Seminoles two points late in the game.
2001 Holiday Bowl: No. 9 Texas 47, No. 21 Washington 43—Trailing 36-20 after three quarters, the Longhorns outscored the Huskies 27-7 in the final frame. Texas took a 40-36 lead with six minutes remaining, but Washington countered with a TD drive. Texas got the ball back with 1:49 to go and marched 80 yards for the final tally. Ivan Washington punched it across from the one with 38 seconds left. UT quarterback Major Applewhite set a school record by completing 37 of 55 for 473 yards and 4 TDs in the game.
2002 Holiday Bowl: No. 8 Kansas State 34, Arizona State 27—K-State, an 18-point favorite, trailed the Sun Devils 27-20 when Ell Roberson scored the tying touchdown to put the Wildcats even at 27-all. The Wildcats got one more shot, and Roberson engineered a 59-yard drive with 4:24 to go. Roberson tossed a 10-yard scoring strike to Derrick Evans for the winning score with 75 seconds remaining.
2005 Rose Bowl: No. 6 Texas 38, No. 13 Michigan 37—Dusty Mangum’s 37-yard field goal lifted the Longhorns to victory. Texas QB Vince Young rushed for 102 yards and 4 TDs and passed for another 180 and a TD. Michigan’s field goal with 3:04 remaining gave the Wolverines a 37-35 lead with 3:04 to go. Texas marched 47 yards to the UM 19 but bogged down and only needed a field goal to win it. Mangum kicked his winning field goal as time expired.
2005 Alamo Bowl: Nebraska 32, No. 20 Michigan 28—The Cornhuskers score 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter. Trailing 28-17 midway through the fourth period, the Huskers’ scored a touchdown and two-point conversion to cut the Wolverines’ lead to three with 8:08 to go. Nebraska later forced a Michigan fumble at the MU 17 and took the lead two plays later. The Wolverines then drove to the NU 18 but turned the ball over on downs. Michigan got a chance to win on the game’s final play as a game of hook, and lateral ensued. After several tosses, Michigan’s Tyler Ecker got the pitchout and raced 58 yards down the right sideline but was cut down at the NU 17 to end the game.
2005 Independence Bowl: Missouri 38, No. 19 South Carolina 31—The Gamecocks controlled the game early with leads of 21-0 in the first quarter and 28-14 at the half. The Tigers roared back by scoring 17 points in the game’s final 20 minutes. After USC kicked a field goal to tie the game at 31-31, with 4:10 to go, Mizzou marched 78 yards capped by quarterback Brad Smith’s one-yard touchdown run with 2:13 remaining. Mizzou intercepted a USC pass at the Tigers’ 36 with 1:29 left to end the Gamecocks’ threat.
2005 Holiday Bowl: Oklahoma 17, No. 5 Oregon 14—The 10-1 Ducks were favored by three points over the unranked Sooners (7-4). Trailing 7-3 at halftime, Oklahoma dominated the second half with two third-quarter touchdowns and a stout defense that held the Ducks to 8 total yards until late in the game. Oregon added a touchdown with three-and-a-half minutes left. The Ducks then threatened to score with a drive to the Sooners’ 19 with less than a minute to play. Oregon’s Brady Leaf tossed a pass to Demetrius Williams, but OU’s Clint Ingram leaped up and intercepted the pass on the 10-yard line with 33 seconds remaining.
2006 Independence Bowl: Oklahoma State 34, Alabama 31—The Cowboys held a 31-17 lead early in the fourth quarter. Alabama’s Javier Arenas returned Matt Fodge’s punt 86-yard for a touchdown. OSU’s Grant Jones fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Crimson Tide recovered at the Pokes’ 21. Five plays later, the score was notched at 31-all. Minutes later, OSU drove from its 16-yard line to the Bama 8 and stalled there. Jason Ricks nailed a 27-yard field goal with eight seconds remaining.
2006 Rose Bowl (2005 BCS National Championship Game): No. 2 Texas 41, No. 1 USC 38—The defending champion Trojans were a touchdown favorite to claim back-to-back titles. Both teams displayed a lot of offensive firepower, with a combined 1,130 yards. USC appeared headed to its second straight championship as it held a 38-26 lead with 6:42 remaining. UT’s Vince Young scored on a 17-yard run to cap a 69-yard drive, and the Longhorns were back in business trailing, 38-33. The Trojans swiftly moved from its 34 to the UT 45, but the Steers stopped USC’s LenDale White a yard short of a first down.
Texas took over, and 10 plays later, Young, the game’s offensive MVP, scored on an 8-yard run and also scored on a two-point run for the 41-38 lead with 19 seconds left. USC scared Horn fans with a pass from Matt Leinart to Reggie Bush to the UT 42, but Leinart’s next pass was incomplete to end the game.
2008 Gator Bowl: Texas Tech 31, No. 21 Virginia 28—The Cavaliers held a 28-14 lead early in the fourth quarter. Virginia stopped a Red Raiders’ threat on its 1-yard line, but Tech managed to score on its next series—Graham Harrell’s 20-yard scoring strike to Michael Crabtree capped a 51-yard drive with 3:31 to go. Tech’s Rajon Henley forced the Cavs’ running back to fumble on the next possession, and the Raiders’ Jake Ratliff recovered at the UVA 4. Tech running back Aaron Crawford scored on the next play, and the game was tied at 28 with 3:10 left. After holding the Cavs to a three-and-out, the Raiders marched from their 47 to the UVA 23 with two seconds remaining. Alex Trlica booted a 41-yard field goal for the victory.
2008 Orange Bowl: No. 8 Kansas 24, No. 3 Virginia Tech 21—The Jayhawks jumped to a 17-0 lead in the middle of the second quarter. The Hokies then got on board with a touchdown before halftime. They narrowed the gap early in the third quarter with an 84-yard punt return for a touchdown. VT threatened with a drive on its next possession to the KU 7 but had to settle for a field goal to tie. KU linebacker Joe Mortenson blocked it. KU’s Justin Thornton picked off a Hokie pass early in the fourth quarter and returned it 20 yards to the VT 2. Todd Reising scored on the next play, and Kansas was up 24-14 with 10:57 remaining. Minutes later, the Hokies drove 78 yards capped by Sean Glennon’s 20-yard pass to Justin Harper with three minutes left. The Jayhawks secured the onside kick and milked the clock for the victory.
2008 Alamo Bowl: No. 21 Missouri 30, No. 23 Northwestern 23 (overtime)—Mizzou’s Jeff Wolfert toed a 37-yard field goal with 2:49 remaining to tie the game at 23-apiece, but he missed a 44-yard attempt on the final play of regulation, thus forcing overtime. The Tigers’ got the ball first. Facing third-and-three at the 7, quarterback Chase Daniel zipped a pass to Jeremy Maclin. The Wildcats had to answer with a touchdown. They moved to the 8-yard line but faced third and goal. Mizzou’s William Moore and Tim Witherspoon blitzed, forcing NU’s quarterback C. J. Bacher to retreat and Bacher fumbled the ball, which teammate Al Netter recovered at the 31-yard line. Bacher then heaved a Hail Mary pass to the end zone. Moore nearly intercepted it to end the game.
2009 Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 Texas 24, No. 10 Ohio State 21—The Longhorns and Buckeyes met for the third time in four years (each winning on the other’s turf in 2005 and 06). Texas dominated the first three quarters with a 17-6 lead. After an early OSU fourth-quarter field goal, the Buckeyes drove 73 and 80 yards, respectively, to take a 21-17 lead with 2:05 remaining. The Longhorns had 78 yards to work with after Jordan Shipley’s 22-yard kickoff return. Since Texas had struggled running the ball (52 yards to that point), the Longhorns passed 10 times on the 11-play winning drive. Colt McCoy, the Heisman runner-up, hurled a short pass to Quan Cosby, who eluded a tackle and throttled to the end zone with 16 seconds to go. McCoy threw for 414 yards in the game.
2012 Fiesta Bowl: No. 3 Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38 (OT)—Both teams battled to a 38-38 tie through regulation. The Cardinal got the first crack in OT, but OSU’s defense held them in check, and Jordan Williamson’s 43-yard field goal attempt sailed wide left. After OSU’s Brandon Weeden tossed an incompletion, he connected with Colton Chelf to the 1-yard line. OSU coach Mike Gundy elected to end the game with a field goal. Weeden took a knee for a four-yard loss in the middle of the field to provide his kicker, Quin Sharp, a direct shot at the goalposts. Sharp’s 22-yard attempt popped through the uprights.
2012 Meinecke Car Care: Texas Tech 34, Minnesota 31—The Red Raiders and Golden Gophers traded the lead seven times, and twice they were tied during the first 47 minutes of the game. Minnesota held a 31-24 advantage with 13:07 remaining. Tech’s Seth Doege threw interceptions on two straight possessions. Doege went 6 for 7 to lead the Raiders on an 82-yard drive with less than four minutes remaining. From the Gophers’ 35, Doege hit Eric Ward on a short slant, and Ward flew to the end zone for a 31-31 tie with 70 seconds left. Tech’s D.J. Johnson intercepted Minnesota’s pass on the next series and returned it 39 yards to the Gophers’ 22. The Raiders moved 11 yards in two plays but had to settle for a field goal with two seconds on the clock. Ryan Bustin’s 28-yarder split the uprights as time expired.
2016 Alamo Bowl: No. 11 TCU 47, No. 15 Oregon 41 (3OTs)—The first half was all Oregon as the Ducks led 31-0 at halftime. They failed to score in the final 30 minutes of regulation. Oregon quarterback Vernon Adams received a concussion late in the first half and sat out the second half. The Horned Frogs scored on every possession of the second half and overtime. The score was notched at 31-apiece after regulation. The Horned Frogs took a 38-31 lead on their first OT series. The Ducks countered with a touchdown to force a second overtime. Both teams matched field goals in the second OT. TCU got the first crack in the third extra frame. Aaron Green carried for 12 and 5 yards on the next two plays, and quarterback Bram Kohlhausen scored his fourth TD of the game with an 8-yard scamper. Kohlhausen replaced Trevoyne Boykin, who was suspended from the team for a bar fight two days before the game. Kohlhausen misfired on the two-point pass play. Oregon’s fourth-down pass fell incomplete to end the game.
2016 Cactus Bowl: West Virginia 43, Arizona State 42—West Virginia quarterback Skyler Howard set a Cactus Bowl record with 532 passing yards and 5 TDs, including the game-tying score. ASU’s Mike Bercovici tried to keep pace with a 418-yard, four-touchdown performance in the losing effort. Bercovici threw a 58-yard scoring strike to Gary Chambers to give the Sun Devils a 42-36 lead with 4:56 to go. The Mountaineers marched 75 yards and notched the game at 42-all with 2:19 remaining. All eyes were on WVU kicker Josh Lambert, who had a PAT blocked and returned for a Sun Devil score late in the first half. This time his conversion was true for the game-winner.
2017 Alamo Bowl: No. 15 TCU 39, No. 13 Stanford 37—The Horned Frogs overcame a 21-3 early deficit to chip away at the Cardinal lead but would not take the lead until early in the fourth quarter. Two big plays by the Frogs got them their first lead in the second half. Quarterback Kenny Hill connected to Jalen Reagor for a 93-yard scoring strike to trail 31-29. TCU’s defense then forced Stanford to punt on the next series. Desmon White took the ball at his 24 and flashed 76 yards down the sideline for the Frogs’ first lead, 36-31. The Cardinal recaptured the lead with a 76-yard TD drive, but K.J. Costello’s two-point pass play sailed over his receiver’s head. Trailing 37-36 with 6:42 to go, the Frogs marched to the SU 16 but stalled, and Cole Bunce nailed a 33-yard field goal with 3:07 remaining. TCU safety Innis Gaines intercepted Costello’s pass at the SU 44 to put the game away.
2018 Texas Bowl: Baylor 45, Vanderbilt 38—Both teams battled through five lead changes in the first three-and-a-half quarters. Vandy took a 35-31 lead with 9:31 left in the game. The Bears needed just one play to regain the lead. BU’s Charlie Brewer fired a 75-yard TD pass to Trestan Ebner, who was wide open at the Baylor 35 and sailed to the end zone. The Commodores then stalled at the Bears’ 15, and Riley Guay kicked the tying field goal with 3:30 to go. Brewer then hit another long scoring strike to Marques Jones for 52 yards for the game-winner with 1:50 remaining.
2018 Cheez-It Bowl: TCU 10, California 7 (OT)—Cal scored its only touchdown after intercepting a TCU pass at the Horned Frogs’ 34. The Bears needed only two plays for the 7-0 advantage. Another Cal interception put the Bears in scoring position at the TCU 17 early in the second stanza. Two plays later, the Frogs’ Niko Small picked off a pass at the goal line and returned it 45 yards. Two plays after that, Grayson Muehlstein threw his third interception. The Frogs later threatened with a drive to the Cal 28, but Muehlstein was sacked on fourth down. TCU’s Jeff Gladney intercepted another Bears pass before intermission. Muehlstein again threw a pick to start the third quarter, but the Bears could not capitalize. Jalen Reagor later returned a Bears’ punt 58 yards to the Cal 33. Sewo Olonilua, who rushed for 194 yards in the game, scored on a 1-yard run seven plays later for a 7-7 tie. The Frogs marched from their 10 to the Cal 27, but Cole Bunce missed a 44-yard field goal as time expired. TCU’s Jawuan Johnson intercepted Cal’s pass on the third play of overtime. The Frogs were flagged 15 yards for a sideline warning moving their first possession back to the 40-yard line. They moved to the 10 in 10 plays, and Bunce got redemption with his 27-yard field goal.
2018 Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma State 38, Missouri 33—The Cowboys controlled this game from the outset. They held their biggest lead of 16 points (35-19) at the end of the third period. The Tigers cut into the lead with an 86-yard pass play early in the fourth quarter and then ended a Pokes scoring threat with an interception in the end zone. Mizzou closed the gap, 35-33, moments later on a 55-yard TD run. OSU faked a punt on its next series, but kicker Matt Roush was stopped three yards short, and MU took over at the OSU 32. The Tigers moved only 8 yards and tried a field goal for their first lead, but the Pokes’ Mike Scott blocked it. OSU then marched 66 yards to the MU 9 and stalled. Matt Amendola tied a 27-yard field goal for a 38-33 lead with 5:54 to go. The Tigers would need a touchdown to win the game, and they came close. They also rolled 66 yards to the Cowboys’ 9-yard line and faced fourth-and-one with 1:05 left. Mizzou quarterback Drew Lock kept the ball around the right end, but OSU safety Kolby Harvell-Peel cut him down for no gain.
2020 Liberty Bowl: West Virginia 24, Army 21—Trailing 14-10 at halftime, West Virginia coach Neal Brown went with his backup quarterback Austin Kendall, who threw two TD passes in the second half for the WVU comeback. Starting QB Jaret Doege threw one interception, was sacked twice, and fumbled on the second sack, deep in the Mountaineers territory. The Black Knights cased in for their second touchdown before halftime. Army then took the second-half kickoff and milked 8 minutes off the clock for a 21-10 lead in the third quarter. In just his second appearance all season, Kendall engineered an 80-yard drive and finished it with a 3-yard scoring strike to Mike O’Laughlin. Kendall’s two-point pass was dropped, and the Mountaineers trailed 21-16. Kendall fired a 20-yard TD pass to T.J. Simmons with 5:10 remaining, and Reese Smith ran for the two-point conversion, and WVU led 24-21. Army then drove to the WVU 22 but stalled and missed a field goal try. The Cadets got one more crack with 1:28 to go, but WVU’s Josh Chandler intercepted to secure the win.