The Big 12 as we know it is going out with a whimper.
Kansas State lost 36-34 to Syracuse in the Pinstripe Bowl. I know, the ‘Cats got screwed by a horrible call, but look at it this way. Even without the celebration penalty on that late touchdown, K-State had only a 25 percent chance to win in overtime: 50-50 to make the 2-point conversion, 50-50 to in OT.
Nebraska lost 19-7 to Washington in the Holiday Bowl. I know, quarterback Taylor Martinez was banged up. Who cares? Washington was inept — a first-round draft pick at quarterback yet no pass completions until the third quarter — and still the Huskers didn’t even put up a fight.
Now the Big 12′s bowl performance is in free fall. Only Oklahoma State has delivered — 36-10 over Arizona in the Alamo Bowl — and check out the standings of the major conferences in bowls.
1. Big Ten 2-0 (2-0 against fellow major conferences; let’s count the Mountain West in this).
2. ACC 3-1 (2-1)
3. Mountain West 3-1 (1-0)
4. Big East 2-1 (1-1)
5. Pac-10 1-1 (1-1)
6. Big 12 1-4 (1-4)
7. SEC 0-1 (0-1)
To be honest, this Big 12 bowl performance doesn’t portend well for the Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl. Oklahoma by any stretch of the imagination should beat Connecticut, but those of us who questioned the Big East’s worth in the BCS are hard-pressed to defend the Big 12 banner.
Teams don’t play enough quality non-conference opponents to truly determine a league’s strength. And basing conference strength on conference games is Enron math.
Step up and be a man in the bowl games, or pipe down. And the Big 12 should pipe down.
The good news in the Nebraska fiasco that while that absurd performance reflects poorly on Big 12 football 2010, it will reflect poorly on Big Ten football 2011. The Huskers are the Big Ten’s problem now.
And what a great sendoff for the Big 12 North Division, which has officially died until further notice. The North quit playing big-time football sometime early in the ’00s, and with the Big 12 going to non-divisional format, the last public offering for the division were these three bowl games.
Missouri lost to Iowa. K-State lost to Syracuse. Nebraska lost to Washington. Talk about going out with a whimper.