As we welcome in a new decade of Big 12 football, we wrap our review of the some of the more notable games of the 2010s. Unlike the piece on losses, this one includes more of those games played in the Big 12 postseason, when some of the conference’s most marquee wins occurred, and helped to provide some of the highest quality wins to many of the league’s teams.
Now that we’ve gone through some of the lowest points for each Big 12 squad, we get a chance to look at some more positive moments on the gridiron. This decade featured some great victories for the traditionally strong Big 12 programs as well as those that are normally not considered powerhouses.
Baylor 61, TCU 58 – 10/11/2014
There are good cases to be made for a few other games in Baylor’s history, but this one makes the cut because of the context. The Bears went from being a Big 12 basement dweller in the 2000s, winning average of 3.4 games per season in that decade, to going 50-15 from 2011 to 2015. They outright won or won a share of two Big 12 titles in 2013 and 2014, and this ended up being the game that allowed them to lay that claim.
The fifth ranked Bears took on in-state rival TCU (ranked ninth at the time) in Waco in a game that was sure to factor into who got into the College Football Playoffs. It ended being a wild, high-scoring affair, in which Trevone Boykin and B.J. Catalon for the Horned Frogs powered an early 21-10 lead for TCU, but Baylor stormed back in a game where they ran 109 plays to make it close at 44-37 headed into the fourth quarter.
An Aaron Green touchdown run for TCU and a Bryce Petty pick six to start that last period made it seem like the Bears were done for trailing 58-37. In the final 11:38 Baylor went on to score 24 unanswered points, however, with drives of 0:59, 1:23, 0:59, and 1:11. That performance by Petty and the offense, which amassed 782 yards, stands as one of the best comebacks – if not the best – of this decade. Runners Up: 45-38 vs. Oklahoma (2011), 52-24 vs. Kansas State (2012).
Iowa State 37, Oklahoma State 31 – 11/18/2011
There are a few upsets that could be included here for the Cyclones in this decade, as Iowa State had their share of impressive wins in the 2010s. Because of the context, though, this one makes the list. The No. 2 Cowboys were guaranteed a spot in the BCS Championship if they could beat Iowa State and the tenth-ranked Oklahoma Sooners. Anything can happen in Ames, though.
This one started with sloppy play from both teams, with the first score coming from a pick six thrown by Iowa State’s Jared Barnett. Both offenses got going despite mistakes, with the Pokes going into halftime with what looked like a solid 17-7 lead. The Cowboys extended it to 24-7, but then the Cyclones began to methodically climb back into the game as the Pokes offense stalled. A Barnett touchdown pass tied it 24-24 with five minutes left, and neither team was able to put up any points from then on out.
The game went into double overtime, where a critical mistake would hurt Oklahoma State. Looking to score at 31-31, quarterback Brandon Weeden threw a pass that would be tipped up into the hands of Iowa State’s Ter’Ran Benton. Cyclone running back Jeff Woody ran it three straight times, rumbling his way into the endzone to give Iowa State the win. Runners Up: 38-31 vs. Oklahoma (2017), 40-13 vs. West Virginia (2018).
Kansas 48, Boston College 24 – 9/14/2019
Things are looking up in Lawrence, and the Jayhawks’ win earlier this season in Boston played a major part in providing that optimism. This win gave Kansas their only win over a Power 5 team on the road this decade, and got the upset as a three score underdog. This was the kind of dominating performance that we’ve rarely seen from the Jayhawks in the 2010s.
Initially, it looked like this would be a long day for the Jayhawks, as the Eagles jumped out to a 10-0 lead early in the first quarter thanks in part to a Carter Stanley interception. Kansas didn’t panic, though, and the offense came alive with four straight drives ending on touchdowns. They continued to roll after going up 28-24 at half, and didn’t punt until the fourth quarter. With the defense putting the clamps on after halftime, the Jayhawks were able to complete the rout with 567 yards. Runners Up: 28-25 vs. Georgia Tech (2010), 27-26 vs. TCU (2018).
Kansas State 24, Oklahoma 19 – 9/22/2012
This game epitomized the Kansas State brand under Bill Snyder while he was there – mistake-free football combined with clock control. Ultimately, this 2012 win would make a (shared) league championship possible for the Wildcats, the first and only one during Snyder’s second tenure. It was also the height of the Collin Klein era at Kansas State, a season where the Wildcats went 11-1 in the regular season, a number that would be the best of the decade.
The defense for the Wildcats particularly stepped up in this contest, getting the first touchdown of the game on a scoop and score. Kansas State led for most of the first half, up 10-3 at one point, before an Oklahoma score in the third quarter gave the Sooners the lead at 13-10. Ultimately, though, the ability of the Wildcats to put up over 200 yards rushing on Oklahoma in Norman made it possible for them to score 14 unanswered in the fourth quarter. In a game where points were hard to come by, that made all the difference. Up 24-19 with four minutes left, the Wildcats ran the clock out and salted the game away. Runners Up: 45-40 vs Oklahoma State (2017), 48-41 vs. Oklahoma (2019).
Oklahoma 31, Ohio State 16 – 9/9/2017
This game really embodied so much about the Baker Mayfield era at Oklahoma, when controversy was the order of the day. The last two years seem quiet compared to this one, which was complete with the Oklahoma quarterback planting a flag at midfield in the Buckeyes’ stadium.
From the start, the Sooners were out to show that they came to play defensively, forcing Ohio State to punt on three of their first four possessions. Buckeyes quarterback J.T. Barrett was held to 183 yards passing and one interception on the night, and Ohio State only found the endzone once all game. Oklahoma, meanwhile, got past two early turnovers to take a 17-13 lead in the third quarter, and they never looked back. This game gave Lincoln Riley a signature win and helped pad the Sooners’ resume for an eventual spot in the CFP. Runners Up: 58-23 vs. Oklahoma State (2015) , 45-31 vs. Alabama (2014).
Oklahoma State 41, Stanford 38 – 1/2/2012
For the Pokes, you really have to go with a game from their 2011 season, which is might be the best in the school’s history. That year, Oklahoma State went 12-1, won the Big 12 conference, and became one of four Big 12 teams to win a New Year’s Six bowl in this decade. That game was the 2012 Fiesta Bowl, one that featured the quarterback-wide receiver duo of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon.
Oklahoma State put up over 400 yards of offense against the Cardinal, and the Weeden-Blackmon duo accounted for the Cowboys’ first two scores of the day, and three total. The two teams traded scores, with Stanford running their well-known ball control offense and the Pokes putting up big, dynamic plays. A missed Stanford field goal in overtime by the Cardinal gave Oklahoma State the opportunity to win the 38-38 overtime contest, and Quinn Sharp knocked it through the uprights to give the Pokes the victory. Runners Up: 49-17 vs. Baylor (2013), 49-29 vs. TCU (2015).
TCU 21, Wisconsin 19 – 1/1/2011
TCU’s Rose Bowl win capped off an undefeated season by the Horned Frogs, and showed that they could indisputably hang with tough Power 5 opponents. This was the only the second undefeated season in the Horned Frogs’ history, and one in which TCU absolutely dominated their competition through the 2010 season, playing in only one single possession game all season.
This was a close, back-and-forth game in which featured some scoring by both teams in the first half before slow second half. Coming out of the half up 14-13, TCU managed to put together a scoring drive late in the third quarter to give the Horned Frogs a 21-13 lead. Then, with just over five minutes left in the fourth quarter, the Badgers ran behind the pads of running backs John Clay and Montee Ball to march down the field and score with two minutes left in the game.
Attempting the two-point conversion for the potential 21-21 tie, Wisconsin quarterback Scott Tolzien dropped back and found a wide open receiver in the end zone, but TCU’s Tank Carder would jump up to bat the throw down, effectively giving the game to the Horned Frogs. Runners Up: 42-3 vs. Ole Miss (2014), 47-41 vs. Oregon (2015).
Texas 28, Georgia 21 – 1/1/2019
It’s no secret that the Longhorns struggled throughout the 2010s, but they definitely ended the decade on a better note than they began it. Their Sugar Bowl win over the No. 5 Bulldogs gave Texas their only New Year’s Six bowl victory of the decade and their best non-conference win of the decade by far.
The Longhorns came to play in this game, and behind quarterback Sam Ehlinger, they put up points on four of their first five possessions, one of which was made possible by a fumble by Georgia running back D’Andre Swift. Texas controlled the game from beginning to end, extending their 20-7 they built by halftime to 28-7 early in the fourth quarter. Georgia scored twice late, but ultimately ran out of time as Texas would hold on for the one score victory. Runners Up: 23-17 vs. Baylor (2015), 48-45 vs. Oklahoma (2018).
Texas Tech 41, Oklahoma 38 – 10/22/2011
The Red Raiders are known for being a tough out in Lubbock, but this upset over the No. 3 Sooners – Texas Tech’s only Top 5 win of the decade – was a rare win for an opposing Big 12 team in Norman. This ended up being a shootout between quarterback Seth Doege and Oklahoma’s Landry Jones, who accounted for nine touchdowns and over 800 yards of offense combined. Yep, this was as Big 12 as a Big 12 game could get.
Doege and the offense put up three touchdowns as the Sooners coughed up a fumble and struggled to only put up a touchdown as the Red Raiders rolled to grab a 31-7 lead by the early third quarter. Oklahoma did indeed storm back, putting up 21 points in the fourth quarter to put themselves in position for a desparation onside kick with 1:10 left in the game. Texas Tech recovered, though, and was able to kneel it out to give Tommy Tubberville his best win in Lubbock. Runners Up: 37-23 vs. Arizona State (2013), 45-35 vs. Oklahoma State (2019).
West Virginia 41, Baylor 27 – 10/18/2014
Morgantown can be a tough place to play, and no game showed the Big 12 how true that was like this one did. The Bears were the fourth ranked team in the conference at the time, and would go on to be named co-champions by the league. What they didn’t expect, however, was Clint Trickett and the Mountaineers receiving corps, which racked up 322 yards on Baylor.
It was the defense though, that really stepped up for West Virginia, which held Baylor to 3-of-16 on third down. The Bears were aided by two West Virginia fumbles and a Trickett interception in the first half, but the Mountaineers went into halftime up 21-20. The second half was all gold and blue, though, as the West Virginia offense continued to roll and outpaced Baylor 20-7. Runners Up: 48-45 vs. Texas (2012), 70-33 vs. Clemson (2011).