Tuesday, 08 January 2013 05:19

Handing out the Big 12's bowl grades

Written by Jay Beck
Alex Okafor had 4.5 of UT's 10 sacks in their Alamo Bowl win over Oregon State Alex Okafor had 4.5 of UT's 10 sacks in their Alamo Bowl win over Oregon State Brendan Maloney-USA TODAY Sports

The Big 12 sent nine of its 10 teams to bowl games this season and walked away with just four victories, not a great showing considering there was only one game where a Big 12 team was a decided underdog (Oregon was a nine point favorite over Kansas State).

All told, there were still some solid performances mixed among a few disappointing showings, as well. With the season coming to a close, here's the report card grading all nine teams in their bowl games.

Honor Students

Baylor: Grade A

Result: Beat UCLA, 49-26, in the Holiday Bowl

Baylor's win over the Bruins capped a four game winning streak to end the season, a remarkable turnaround considering the Bears lost five of six games during a midseason swoon.

Baylor's offense was as good as it has been for most of the season but if was the defense that made the difference against a very good Bruin offense. The Bears held UCLA to 362 yards, 110 yards under their season average, while keeping Johnathan Franklin in check allowing the senior running back just 34 yards on the ground.

Baylor's victory gave them back-to-back bowl wins and capped an eight win season, the third straight season above .500. Times are definitely changing in Waco.

Oklahoma State: Grade A

Result: beat Purdue, 58-14 in the Heart of Dallas Bowl

The Cowboys had no trouble in dispatching Purdue who looked like a rudderless ship without their head coach. Oklahoma State did whatever they wanted, however they wanted, in amassing 524 yards while their defense forced five Boilermaker turnovers.

Quarterback Clint Chelf made another strong case to be the Pokes starting quarterback heading into 2013 with three touchdown passes without turning the ball over. The win sets up what could be another stellar season for Mike Gundy and company with the bulk of their two-deep roster set to return next season.

 

Making the Grade

Texas: Grade B+

Result: beat Oregon State, 31-27, in Alamo Bowl

The Longhorns defense showed up in a big way holding Oregon State to under 300 yards of total offense, a result largely due to Texas' 10 sacks of Oregon State quarterback Cody Vaz.

The strong showing by the Longhorn defense kept UT in the ballgame as David Ash tossed two fourth quarter touchdown passes, the second coming with under three minutes to play giving Texas the lead for the first time in the game.

The win gave Texas its second straight bowl win and first nine win season since they played for the national title following the 2009 season. The win was huge for a Texas program looking for any positive vibes heading into the offseason following another up-and-down year.

 

Satisfactory work

Texas Tech: Grade C+

Result: beat Minnesota, 34-31, in the Meineke Car Care Bowl

It wasn't a thing of beauty in a game where Tech was a heavy favorite, but it was a win nonetheless, a fact that shouldn't be overlooked considering the Red Raiders entered the game missing their head coach and offensive coordinator.

Texas Tech tied the game at 31 on a Seth Doege touchdown pass to Eric Ward with 1:44 left in the game. The Red Raiders' defense came up with a huge interception on Minnesota's ensuing possession setting up the game winning FG as time expired.

Texas Tech finished the season with an 8-5 record with Kliff Kingsbury now set to take over the head coaching duties.

uspw 6903984Kansas State: Grade C

Result: Lost to Oregon 35-17 in the Fiesta Bowl

The result wasn't what K-State hoped for, but then again, there weren't many teams in the country that were going to hang with the Ducks.

The Wildcat defense did an admirable job in slowing down the Oregon attack but Kansas State's offense couldn't hold up its end of the bargain in the second half. KSU punted on four of their second half possessions and turned it over on another ending a two year run that saw the Wildcats win 21 games including a Big 12 title.

TCU: Grade C -

Result: lost to Michigan State, 17-16, in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl

The Horned Frogs led 13-0 at halftime but couldn't hold the lead as Michigan rallied for a 17-16 victory ending TCU's first season in the Big 12 with a 7-6 mark.

TCU looked to be in control but then Le'Veon Bell got rolling in the second half and Skye Dawson's muffed punt set up a second Michigan State touchdown at the four yard line that proved to be the difference with both teams trading field goals in the game's final minutes.

 

Improvement needed

Iowa State: Grade D+

Result: Lost to Tulsa, 31-17, in the Liberty Bowl

The Cyclones beat Tulsa to open the season but couldn't do it a second time falling to the Golden Hurricanes in a game they led 17-7 after one quarter.

That would be all for the Cyclone offense, however, as they finished with just nine first downs and 268 yards in the game. Iowa State's Sam Richardson once again started at quarterback for the Cyclones but couldn't keep the momentum going after starting the game six for seven for 114 yards. Richardson had been fighting a bout with the flu and finally gave way to Steele Jantz in the fourth quarter adding just 15 more passing yards over the second and third quarters..

Iowa State's defense allowed Tulsa to rush for 317 yards on the day. The Cyclones ended the season with a 6-7 record for the second straight year.

West Virginia: Grade D

Result: Lost to Syracuse, 38-14, in the New Era Pinstripe Bowl    

The conditions weren't ideal, but it a disappointing end to an otherwise disappointing season for the Mountaineers. West Virginia's defense hadn't been bad against the run most of the season but that wasn't the case in the Big Apple as snow fell throughout most of the game. The Orange racked up 369 yards on the ground which included a 208 yard performance by Prince-Tyson Gulley.

Meanwhile, WVU's offense couldn't answer the second half onslaught by Syracuse as their running game failed to produce consistent yards while the conditions made it difficult for Geno Smith and the Mountaineer passing attack to mount much of an attack outside of Stedman Bailey who finished with 126 yards receiving with two touchdowns.

West Virginia finished up their first season in the Big 12 with a 7-6 record, disappointing considering all the defeats came over the final 8 games of the season.

uspw 6911276Oklahoma: Grade D

Result: Lost to Texas A&M, 41-13, in the Cotton Bowl

Things looked good at halftime with Oklahoma trailing by one, 14-13, and the Sooners were set to open the second half with the football. But then OU's offense went into hibernation and A&M took off behind Johnny Manziel. The Sooners were outgained 252 to 49 yards in the third quarter while the Aggies added three touchdowns to put the game out of reach.

Manziel's performance against OU, well, was something to behold and the Sooners had no answer. That coupled with OU's lack of offense after halftime opened the floodgates sending Oklahoma to their third loss of the season and into winter conditioning wondering what just happened.

By most measures, the Sooners still had a successful season. Their two losses came against two of the best teams in the country - Kansas State and Notre Dame - and they won 10 games sharing the Big 12 title with the Wildcats.

Given all the positives on the season, it wasn't expecting too much for OU to actually be competitive in its bowl game, however. Texas A&M is on the rise, sure, and they have a Heisman winner, yes, but this wasn't a team that should be running up and down the field on the Sooners or shutting down an offense in the second half led by a four year starter at quarterback.

Make what you will of bowl game performances, but OU's Cotton Bowl appearance opened many people eyes to how far the Sooners may actually be from once again playing for national titles.

Last modified on Tuesday, 08 January 2013 05:46
Jay Beck

Jay Beck

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