This year, Kansas State finishes job
Notebook: Oklahoma shares title, but not Fiesta Bowl bid
Long ago, in 1998, Kansas State started off the season with 11 consecutive wins, resulting in a No. 2 ranking. When the time came to claim the Big 12 championship, a league they had dominated, by an average score of 43-14 in the eight games, the Wildcats were overpowered by Texas A&M in double overtime.
This season, Kansas State jumped out to 10 consecutive wins, climbing to No. 2 in the AP poll. Then the Wildcats went to Waco, Texas and saw Baylor ruin their dream season. However, a Big 12 title was still possible, all Kansas State had to do was beat another scrappy team from the Lone Star State.
For three quarters, the Longhorns held their ground, but Kansas State was simply too dominant, winning 42-24. The Wildcats rolled past Texas to earn the outright Big 12 title and earn an automatic berth into the Fiesta Bowl.
“It means an awful lot to all of us," head coach Bill Snyder said. "It means a great deal to the young people in our program. They were excited about it. Obviously, I speak for everybody in our football family. I think it is significant and important for every one of us."
Make it two Big 12 championships for Kansas State, which won its first in 2003. That's one less than Texas, two more than Texas Tech and one more than Oklahoma State, which are much more renowned programs with better resources to their name.
“It is tremendous," quarterback Collin Klein said. "It sounds like a simple thing, but it has been amazing how coach Snyder has been talking about improving in every team I have been on and every single year that we have had here. The last couple of years have gotten better every year. Obviously, we got one more than we did last year. It feels great, but I am still absorbing it right now."
Baylor (7-5, 4-5)
• As the calendar rolled into November, this was the predicament Baylor faced: five games remaining, three wins needed to become bowl-eligible. The Bears easily dispatched Kansas to get win No. 4, but then games against Oklahoma, Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State still loomed. It looked grim, but Art Briles' bunch rallied and played its best ball of the season. Saturday's 41-34 win against Oklahoma State gave Baylor its seventh win to improve its bowl standing.
• Nick Florence's regular season: 4,121 passing yards, 31 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, nine yards per attempt, completion percentage of 61.
Robert Griffin III's 2011 season: 3,998 passing yards, 36 touchdowns, six interceptions, 10.8 yards per attempt, completion percentage of 72.
Florence's numbers aren't quite Heisman-worthy, but there's no denying he did a bang-up job replacing RG3.
Next Game: Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl against UCLA on Dec. 27
Iowa State (6-6, 3-6)
• Iowa State, by virtue of having the worst record of bowl-eligible Big 12 teams, didn't go to a conference-slotted bowl. Instead, the Cyclones will play in the Music City Bowl in Memphis, Tenn., on New Year's Eve against Tulsa. The Cyclones haven't won a bowl game since 2009.
Next Game: AutoZone Liberty Bowl vs. Tulsa on Dec. 31
Kansas (1-11, 0-9)
• The nightmarish season is over in Lawrence, Kan. The good news is head coach Charlie Weis does have some nice pieces to begin to build around, not including a recruiting class with 14 players currently committed:
Running back James Sims (1,013 yards rushing and nine touchdowns in nine games) and Tony Pierson (760 yards rushing, four touchdowns)
Quarterback Jake Heaps, a BYU transfer, will be eligible to play in 2013. He'll battle Michael Cummings for the starting job.
"We'll come together with both the run and pass game [next season]," Sims said.
No. 7 Kansas State (11-1, 8-1)
• Big 12 championship? Check. Heisman Trophy? Perhaps. To further add to an unforgettable season, Kansas State will play Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl.
It's an intriguing matchup, especially because the two were scheduled to play each other in the regular season until Bill Snyder cancelled the series. Oregon this season has 76 plays of 20 yards or longer, behind Oklahoma State and Baylor in national rankings. The Wildcats didn't fare well against those explosive offenses.
Next Game: vs. Oregon in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 3
No. 12 Oklahoma (10-2, 7-1)
• Oklahoma, by virtue of having the same conference record as Kansas State, also calls itself the 2012 Big 12 champs. But because the Sooners lost their head-to-head matchup with the Wildcats in September, they don't get the conference's automatic BCS bid and thus were on the outside looking in on Selection Sunday. Northern Illinois got an at-large bid, which bumped the Sooners to the Cotton Bowl against Texas A&M. That's going to be a wild matchup.
• The Sooners beat TCU 24-17 on Saturday, to claim a share of their eighth Big 12 title and clinch Bob Stoops' 11th 10-win season at OU. Quarterback Landry Jones followed two consecutive 500-yard passing days with a two-touchdown, 244-yard performance.
Next Game: Cotton Bowl vs. Texas A&M on Jan. 4, 2013
Oklahoma State (7-5, 5-4)
• The Cowboys lost their last two regular season games, with a 41-34 loss to Baylor on Saturday capping off the season in disappointing fashion.
• Wideout Blake Jackson dropped two passes in the end zone, forcing OSU to settle for two field goals. An incriminating stat, as the Cowboys lost by seven.
• The late-season slide led the Cowboys to the Heart of Dallas Bowl against Purdue. The bowl is supposedly reserved for the No. 8 team in the conference, but the Cowboys slipped because Baylor and TCU looked more attractive to the Holiday and Buffalo Wild Wings bowls.
Next Game: Heart of Dallas Bowl vs. Purdue on Jan. 1, 2013
No. 23 Texas (8-4, 5-4)
• The Longhorns played hard against Kansas State, but were undone by the defensive lapses that plagued them all season, along with two interceptions by Case McCoy. McCoy actually played well enough (314 yards passing, two touchdowns) to get first crack at the starting spot in the Alamo Bowl against Oregon State, which boasts a solid defense.
Next Game: vs Oregon State in the Alamo Bowl on Dec. 29
Texas Tech (7-5, 4-5)
• The Red Raiders will face off against Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl in Houston. The Golden Gophers have only given up 13 passing touchdowns all season. It wouldn't be that big of a shock if Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege notched half that in the bowl game.
Next Game: vs. Minnesota in the Meineke Car Care Bowl on Dec. 28
TCU (7-5, 4-5)
• Not a final record to crow about, but not bad for a team that's in its first year in the conference and slugging through a slew of adversity and attrition. Against the top three teams in the Big 12 the Horned Frogs went 1-2, losing to Kansas State by 13, Oklahoma by seven and beating Texas by seven.
• TCU received a bid to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, where it will play Michigan State. The teams are similar in that they will look to establish the ground game.
Next Game: Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl vs. Michigan State on Dec. 29
West Virginia (7-4, 4-5)
• The Mountaineers saved some face in the last two weeks of the season with wins against Iowa State and Kansas, which they dispatched 59-10 on Saturday. In turn, they leaped against Iowa State in conference bowl slotting.
• What makes West Virginia an attractive seven-win team is the offensive firepower it boasts. Geno Smith went 23-for-24 with 407 yards and three touchdowns against Kansas, tying Tee Martin's FBS record for completion percentage in a game (95.8), set back in 1998. Smith has 40 touchdowns to six interceptions this season.
• Equally dynamic is Tavon Austin, who finished the regular season with 1,266 yards receiving, 12 touchdowns and 598 yards rushing with three touchdowns.
• West Virginia's bowl game, the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, is against former Big East foe Syracuse.
Next Game: New Era Pinstripe Bowl vs. Syracuse on Dec. 29