Saturday night the Oklahoma Sooners and the Nebraska Cornhuskers will play in the 15th and final edition of the Big 12 Championship Game. First introduced in 1996, the Big 12 was the second conference to conclude their season with a Championship Game (SEC started in 1992).
The game has been host to numerous memorable games (hopefully one more to come) with implications felt from coast to coast. I thought I’d compile some facts on the history of the Championship Game and hand out awards for the best of the best to put everybody in the correct historical mindset come Saturday night.
Interesting Facts about the Big 12 Championship Game:
- Oklahoma has the most appearances with 8 (6-1 so far), while Nebraska has the second most with 6 (2-3 so far). Combined, they have won 8 of the 14 Big 12 Championship Games, but have only met once before in 2006.
- The Big 12 South has won the past 6 Big 12 Championship Games (last North win: K-State over OU), and holds a 10-4 advantage overall.
- The Big 12 Championship has directly affected the National Championship race in 11 of the 14 years, with a team in position to play for the BCS National Championship with a win.
- Teams with a chance to seal a berth in the BCS National Championship are 6-5 in those games.
- The Big 12 Championship never hosted a game with both teams having an opportunity to play in the National Championship Game (the closest was Texas/Colorado from 2001).
- 5 of the 12 teams never played in the Big 12 Championship – Baylor, Iowa St, Kansas, Oklahoma St, and Texas Tech.
Now for some awards on the best games in Big 12 Championship Game history…..
- Most Legendary Game: 1996- Texas 37, Nebraska 27- While this game could be a recipient of any of the following awards, I elected to make a grander award for it. Nebraska was two wins away from accomplishing a feat that has never been done in College Football: A 3-peat. Throw in the fact that the Huskers won the National Championship in 1997, and this game stands in the way of College Football history, and a potential 4-peat. Then you have what may have been the ballsiest play call of all time: The Texas Longhorns, nursing a 3 point lead with 4 minutes to play, calling a rollout pass on 4th and 1 from their own 28 yard line. Brass balls. The result was a 61 yard catch and run that all but sealed the game. The Legend of the Big 12 Championship Game is born.
- Best Game: 1998- Texas A&M 36, Kansas St 33 (2 OT)- Coming into the game undefeated, and #3 in the nation, Kansas St got the help they needed earlier in the day with Miami beating #2 UCLA. Despite holding a 17-6 advantage at halftime, and a 27-12 lead going into the 4th quarter, the Wildcats were unable to hold on. The hero for Texas A&M was Sirr Parker (sorry KSU fans), who caught the game-tying touchdown and 2-point conversion both, with a minute left in regulation, only to top that with a 32-yard catch and run for the game winning touchdown in the second overtime. The worst part of that play was that it came on a 3rd and 17. Despite being only 13 years old, I can remember intricate details of this game, and it didn’t even involve my favorite team. Now that is what marks a great game.
- Worst Game: 2005- Texas 70, Colorado 3- Could Texas be derailed by Colorado on their way to a National Championship, as they had previously in 2001 (more on this in a bit)? Not with Vince Young under center. Prior to what many people consider the best game of all time, Texas-USC in the Rose Bowl, this massacre happened. Like a bad car wreck, I couldn’t look away, especially with Colorado playing the role of the victim. The best/worst part of this game was that Texas put up the 70 points by the 7:36 mark of the 3rd quarter. WOW! How hard did they have to put the brakes on to not completely embarrass the Buffaloes (even more so, that is)?
- Biggest Upset: 2003- Kansas St 35, Oklahoma 7- You might remember the 2003 Oklahoma Sooners as the best team in College Football history. They scored 601 points on the season, compared to just 214 by their opponents. The only thing is, they forgot to show up for games #13 and #14, the two most important of the season. Despite the Sooners racing out to a 7-0 lead in a matter of minutes, the Wildcats posted one of the biggest upsets of all time in incredible fashion. I remember telling my girlfriend at the time that we could do something this night because the game was sure to be a blowout, only to have her join me for the entirety of the game, which I watched on the edge of my seat with my jaw on the floor. I couldn’t comprehend.
- Best Nebraska Moment: 2001 Colorado 39, Texas 37- In an unbelievable turn of events, the Nebraska Cornhuskers sealed their trip to the 2001 National Championship Game with this final upset. Numerous teams faced games where victory met their inclusion in the BCS Championship, but none were able to. Oklahoma lost to Oklahoma St at home. Florida lost to Tennessee at home. Then Tennessee lost to LSU in the SEC Championship Game. Then Texas fell to Colorado in this game. If one of those teams had won, Nebraska wouldn’t have reached the Rose Bowl. Unfortunately, one of the best teams of all time, the Miami Hurricanes, were waiting for whoever found their way to Pasadena, and the Cornhuskers got boom-blasted with me in attendance. However, that doesn’t take away from the greatness of this day.
- Worst Nebraska Moment: 2009 Texas 13, Nebraska 12- 1 second, 1 man. That’s what this game meant to me. Obviously, everybody remembers the clock running out with Nebraska holding the lead, only to see the refs put 1 second back on the clock. But, the way Ndamukong Suh absolutely manhandled the opponent, and dominated this game, is what made this game so hard to take as a fan. Unfortunately, the Huskers offense was as inept as their defense was fantastic, and the unbalance swung things in favor of the Longhorns. This one hurt because of how it happened (1 second), who it happened to (Ndamukong The Great, N-Suh, Ndominant Suh), and who it happened against (stinky Bevo). To read my article immediately following this game click here.
Tags: 1996 1998 2001 2003 2005 2009 Awards Baylor Big 12 Big 12 Championship Big 12 Championship Game Big 12 Conference Colorado Facts History Huskers Huskers Blog Iowa St Kansas Jayhawks Kansas St Kansas State Wildcats Missouri Tigers National Championship Ndamukong Suh Nebraska Nebraska Cornhuskers Nic Reese Oklahoma Sooners Oklahoma St Oklahoma State Sirr Parker Texas Texas A&m Texas Tech Vince Young