It had been two years since Oklahoma football prevailed in a postseason bowl, and more years than that since the Big 12 had a reasonable showing during bowl season.
The Sooners’ 38-19 Sugar Bowl victory over the SEC’s second-best team this season, the Auburn Tigers, gave the Big 12 four bowl victories in six 2016 postseason games. That is the best postseason record by the Big 12 in five seasons and the second best in the league’s 21-year history.
The 2016 postseason started off with 6-6 Baylor coming alive again for the first time in its final six regular-season previous outings and registered a 31-12 thrashing of Boise State in the Cactus Bowl in Phoenix . The Bears’ offense pummeled the Boise State defense for 515 yards of total offense.
Underdog Kansas State rose to the occasion and defeated Texas A&M and former Oklahoma quarterback Trevor Knight, defeating the Aggies out of the SEC 33-28 in the Texas Bowl in Houston.
In what was expected to be one of the better games in the entire bowl season, Oklahoma State rolled over former Big 12 foe Colorado in a surprisingly one-sided affair, 38-8, in the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio.
Two Big 12 bowl teams were not as fortunate. West Virginia absorbed a 31-14 beating from the Miami (Fla) Hurricanes, and TCU couldn’t hold off the Georgia Bulldogs, falling 31-23.
Eight of 11 teams out of the Atlantic Coast Conference won their bowl games, giving the ACC the best record among the five Power Five conferences in the 2016 postseason. The SEC was third with a 6-6 record followed by the Pac-12 with a .500 record, winning three and losing three.
The Big Ten fared the worst of the Power Five leagues, winning just three of 10 games.
Three Big 12 teams (Oklahoma, Kansas State and TCU) faced opponents from the SEC. The Big 12 came out on top in two of those matchups.
The Big 12’s best year in bowl games was 2011. Eight teams, including Oklahoma, went bowling that season, and six of them, including the Sooners, came out on the winning end. The Big 12 went 5-3 in three other years, 2007 (Oklahoma lost to West Virginia 48-28 in the Fiesta Bowl that season), 2005 (the Sooners outlasted Oregon 17-14 in the Holiday Bowl) and 2002 (when OU won the Rose Bowl over Washington State, 34-14).
In the four seasons between 2012 and 2015, Big 12 bowl teams combined for an overall 12-17 record, hardly representative of a conference that prides itself as being one of best football conferences in the land.