Who Is The Greatest Big 12 Champion?

Greatest Big 12 Champion

March is a time when college basketball players can etch their name in the greatness that will live on a CBS intro for all eternity. It also is in the Geneva convention that all things in the month of March must be decided via a single-elimination bracket. Big 12 football is embarking on its next chapter in the 2023 season. But even with some teams giving us previews of what that might look like, i.e. Texas Tech playing Houston the last two seasons, it is time for the next chapter of the Big 12 to begin. So as the page turns, it is Last Word’s turn to crown the one true champion of all time. Which Big 12 champion is the greatest Big 12 champion of all time?

Greatest Big 12 Champion: Round 1

Ground Rules

The Big 12 has been around for 27 years, yet we have 29 teams in this bracket because (insert “One True Champion” joke here) of two years of co-champions. As a result, three teams earned a round-one bye. The number one overall seed is 2005 Texas, with 2000 Oklahoma checking in at the two line and 1997 Nebraska as the three. All matchups occur with 2022 rules and are happening on a neutral field. The seeding committee was a committee of one, so direct all complaints to the internet as is tradition with the actual bracket everyone cares about in march. Let’s jump into the 13 round-one matchups.

16) 2007 Oklahoma Vs. 17) 2016 Oklahoma

This is the first of four Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma matchups we will see in the first round. Both of these teams suffered two regular season losses. However, 2016 Oklahoma’s losses came at a “neutral” site game against Houston and at the hands of playoff-bound Ohio State. Both teams’ rosters featured four players drafted in the subsequent NFL draft. The tiebreaker goes to the team with the unblemished record in conference play. 2016 Oklahoma moves on.

9) 2018 Oklahoma Vs. 24) 2001 Colorado

This matchup gets ugly in a hurry. 2018 Oklahoma saw eight players, including two first-rounders and the number one overall pick, get drafted in the 2019 draft. One of Lincoln Riley’s many teams with a high-flying offensive attack steamrolls the best Colorado team in the last 22 years. 2018 Oklahoma

8) 2011 Oklahoma State Vs. 25) 2012 Kansas State

One of these teams was a slip-up away from playing for a national title. But a trip to Ames, Iowa during a weeknight will do that to plenty of teams. Kansas State quarterback Collin Klein and the Wildcats would find a way to compete into the fourth quarter. But Mike Gundy’s best team ever moves on. 2011 Oklahoma State.

4) 2009 Texas Vs. 29) 1996 Texas

Here is one of two other first-round matchups with a school playing each other to move on to the second round. Colt McCoy and company know that they have likely some work to do if they are going to be crowned the greatest Big 12 champion against another Longhorn team. But they cruise past the inaugural Big 12 champion Texas team that lost five games in 1996. 2009 Texas.

13) 2014 TCU Vs. 20) 2020 Oklahoma

Vegas would set the over/under for this game right around 80 points. TCU scored 82 against Texas Tech, while Oklahoma scored a measly 62 points against the Red Raiders. In a game that likely takes 4 hours to finish in regulation, the more senior team outlasts a “younger” Oklahoma team. 2014 TCU.

12) 2008 Oklahoma Vs. 21) 2013 Baylor

The 2013 Baylor team might be known as a more “viral” team thanks to a chiseled defender of theirs and had plenty of offensive firepower of their own. But, a sophomore quarterback and eventually Heisman Trophy winner named Sam Bradford and sophomore running back DeMarco Murray, find a way to make one or two plays that make the difference. 2008 Oklahoma.

5) 2017 Oklahoma Vs 28) 2003 Kansas State

Darren Sproles, The “tiny” running back to which all future shorter running backs will be compared, was fun to watch. And while Bill Snyder was a wizard in his own right, they just don’t have the horses to run with the 2017 Oklahoma team. 2017 Oklahoma.

15) 2010 Oklahoma Vs. 18) 2019 Oklahoma

The 2010 Sooners had a nice season. They had some nice players. But tell me, would you want Landry Jones or Jalen Hurts as your quarterback? Do not let what LSU did to the 2019 team cloud anyone’s judgment because LSU did that to everyone in 2019. Hurts his one year in Norman survives another day. 2019 Oklahoma

10) 2015 Oklahoma Vs. 23) 1998 Texas A&M

Yes, the ’98 Aggie squad had a future NFL head coach on their team in Dan Campbell. They also had tackling machine Dat Nguyen on the defensive side of the football. But this team only scored more than 30 in regulation one time. Meanwhile, Baker Mayfield and the 2015 Sooners only missed 30 in regulation twice in the regular season. Aggies simply couldn’t score enough in this matchup. 2015 Oklahoma

7) 2004 Oklahoma Vs. 26) 2012 Oklahoma

This one is pretty simple. 2004 Oklahoma had the only true freshman to finish second in Heisman voting and one of the greatest college running backs of all time. Having Adrian Peterson is going to make the case for the greatest Big 12 champion ever a great starting point. 2004 Oklahoma. 

14) 2014 Baylor Vs. 19) 2021 Baylor

Remember the 2013 Baylor team that couldn’t get past Oklahoma? Well, basically that entire team came back the following year in 2014. If not for a sleepy 11 am kick in Morgantown, the ’14 Bears would have been the actual one true champion of the Big 12 that year and gone to the playoff. Head coach Dave Aranda’s second year was one that was overachieving in nature and would not be able to hold up to a veteran Bears team. 2014 Baylor.

11) 2002 Oklahoma Vs. 22) 2006 Oklahoma

*see note about Peterson above* then add Murrary to that backfield. And while both teams ended their season at an NY6 bowl game, with the ’02 team actually winning their bowl game, it is the ’06 team that has more talent and pulls the upset. 2006 Oklahoma.

6) 1999 Nebraska Vs. 27) 2022 Kansas State

Sproles 2.0, aka Deuce Vaughn, added one of the ultimate team goals to his impressive individual accolades. This would be a great contrast in rushing attacks. The classic I-formation option attack from the Cornhuskers and the newer spread rushing attack from the Wildcats. But the Husker team with nine first-team All-Big 12 players pushes Kansas State around in a game that has a combined 15 pass attempts. 1999 Nebraska. 

Stay tuned to Last Word on College Football for the next elimination round.


Greatest Big 12 Champion

Photo courtesy: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports


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