That the final BCS National Championship Game featured two non-Big 12 teams is indicative of the success the conference did, or didn't, have in the 16 years of the BCS.
It's not that the Big 12 wasn't present in BCS bowls. It was. In fact, the conference made 22 BCS bowl appearances, if you include former members Colorado, Nebraska and Texas A&M, and totaled 10 wins and 12 losses.
That's not bad, though the conference only captured two national titles in seven championship games in that span: in 2001 when Oklahoma upended Florida State 13-2, and in 2006 when Texas stunned USC in an all-time thriller in the Rose Bowl, 41-38.
That the Big 12 won more than one BCS National Championship is laudable in context. While the SEC's reign of dominance produced nine BCS titles, all the other conferences (ACC, Big Ten, the now-defunct Big East and Pac-12) trail the Big 12 with one title apiece.
In any case, the Big 12 will forever have some of the most exciting moments in BCS history as it makes way for the College Football Playoff in 2014. Some moments were good; some were not so good, but they were meaningful nevertheless.
For better or worse, the Big 12 always kept it interesting when it came to the postseason. Here are some of the most memorable moments from the last 16 years, including this year.
Vince Young on 4th-and-5
Given Auburn's path to Monday night's BCS National Championship, the Tigers may find a way to pull out the best title moment in history. Still, it's hard to top the go-ahead touchdown run from Texas quarterback Vince Young against USC.
Down 38-33 to the Trojans and facing fourth down and five yards to go with 26 seconds in the game, Young took the snap, dropped back and then took off to his right for the eight-yard score. Young scored again on the two-point conversion, and the Longhorns won 41-38.
USC was loaded with NFL talent that season and riding a 34-game win streak. The star power on both sides, the setting in Pasadena and the play—it adds up to the greatest BCS championship moment ever.
Three Plays that Shocked Oklahoma and College Football
Boise State wasn't supposed to keep it close with Big 12 champion Oklahoma, let alone beat the Sooners in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos, under first-year coach Chris Petersen, almost didn't after blowing an 18-point lead and allowing 25 straight points to fall behind 35-28.
On 4th-and-18 with just seconds remaining, Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky completed a 15-yard pass to Drisan James, who lateraled the ball to Jerard Rabb. Rabb scampered 35 yards for a touchdown.
Facing a 4th-and-2 in overtime, Boise State again reached into its bag of tricks, and receiver Vinny Perretta completed a six-yard touchdown to Derek Schouman on what looked like a designed run. Then, on the ensuing two-point conversion, it was Zabransky to running back Ian Johnson on a Statue of Liberty play.
Three plays no one saw coming, and Boise State topped Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime. It remains one of the most unlikely and heart-racing finishes of any BCS game.
Colt McCoy Takes a Hit from Marcell Dareus
Talk about your "what if" moment. Driving deep into Alabama territory in the first quarter of the 2010 BCS National Championship, Texas quarterback Colt McCoy kept the ball on an option run to the left. Alabama defensive lineman Marcell Dareus hit McCoy in his right (throwing) arm, and McCoy immediately got up and ran to the sideline.
McCoy did not return to the game, and Alabama claimed its first BCS title under coach Nick Saban, 37-21. Texas later released a statement that McCoy suffered a nerve injury that prevented him from throwing with strength or accuracy.
Texas has yet to return to the BCS, and head coach Mack Brown "resigned" after his 16th season.
Kansas Beats Virginia Tech 24-21
Perennial Big 12 doormat Kansas got a taste of the good life in 2007 when it won its first 11 games to set up a rare nationally relevant game against Missouri to end the season. Though the Jayhawks lost the Border War to the Tigers 36-28 and missed out on a Big 12 title appearance, they did get selected to the Orange Bowl as an at-large team.
Quarterback Todd Reesing threw for 227 yards and a touchdown as Kansas held off Virginia Tech 24-21. Head coach Mark Mangino was fired two years later amid a probe by the university into Mangino's treatment of his team.
The Jayhawks never had a season as successful as 2007, winning fewer and fewer games from 2008-12. Since the Orange Bowl appearance, Kansas is 22-51 and on its second coach in Charlie Weis.
Oklahoma Loses in the Big 12 Championship...and Still Plays for the National Title
Nothing quite epitomized the absurdity of the BCS like 2003 when Oklahoma lost to Kansas State in the Big 12 title—and still played LSU in the Sugar Bowl for the national championship.
And, really, the term "losing" doesn't do it justice. K-State leveled the Sooners 35-7. Still, Oklahoma retained its No. 1 ranking while one-loss and third-ranked USC went to the Rose Bowl, where it defeated No. 4 Michigan 28-14.
Oklahoma lost to the Tigers in New Orleans, 21-14. Kansas State lost to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl, 35-28.
Really, though, everyone lost.
Texas Plays Michigan in the Rose Bowl Thanks to Mack Brown's Lobbying
Vince Young's BCS heroics weren't limited to the national championship against USC. The 2005 Rose Bowl against Michigan, which the Longhorns won 38-37, was a thriller too. Young led a nine-play drive late in the fourth quarter to set up Dusty Mangum's 37-yard game-winning field goal.
But should Texas have been playing in Pasadena in the first place?
Texas, sitting at 11-1 at the end of the 2004 regular season after a 26-13 win over Texas A&M, still trailed behind Cal, also 11-1, in the BCS standings. But head coach Mack Brown did some heavy politicking, and the 'Horns were chosen over the Golden Bears to go to the Rose Bowl.
"I thought it was a little classless how Coach Brown was begging for votes after the [Texas A&M] game," former Cal quarterback Aaron Rodgers said at the time, via The Dallas Morning News. "I think a team's record and the way you play should speak for itself, and you shouldn't have to complain about the BCS system."
Brown was forced to lobby for his team again four years later when the 'Horns were in a three-way tie with Oklahoma and Texas Tech for the Big 12 South title. However, the Sooners edged Texas in the BCS rankings and played Missouri in the conference title game (and Florida in the national title game).
Oregon Gets a One-Point Safety Against Kansas State
Official Ron Cherry tried to explain it the best he could. Alas, words even failed him momentarily.
Up 31-10 on Kansas State in the 2013 Fiesta Bowl, Oregon's extra point attempt was blocked and recovered by the Wildcats, who then ran the ball into the end zone where it was ruled dead.
The result was a rare one-point safety, so it basically acted as the extra point K-State blocked to begin with. Oregon won 35-17, but it was one of the more bizarre moments in BCS history.
Ben Kercheval is the lead writer for Big 12 football. You can follow Ben on Twitter @BenKercheval.
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