The best Big 12 games of 2008

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I've covered Big 12 games every year since the conference started in 1996. And I can't remember a season in which the conference received as much national attention as in this one.

The route to the South Division title played out almost like a holy grail to national notoriety. And the games were almost as good as the hype that preceded them, which is something you rarely, if ever, see.

But there were other good games that didn't have much relevance to the Big 12 title, but were still fun to watch, nonetheless. By my count, Colorado was involved in four of the most intriguing games in the conference this season.

Here are my choices for the top 20 Big 12 games of the season. And the very best one remains one of the best football games I've ever seen.

1. Texas Tech 39, Texas 33 -- The Longhorns come within one second of becoming the first team in 65 seasons to beat four top-12 teams in succession. To beat them, the Red Raiders needed a dramatic last-second 28-yard touchdown pass from Graham Harrell to Michael Crabtree that will resonate through West Texas for the ages.

2. Texas 45, Oklahoma 35 -- A game of incredible surges finally is settled by Texas' pass rush and a tough running game that a Sooners defense, playing without middle linebacker Ryan Reynolds, didn't have an answer for. But there were tough, Heisman-worthy performances by both Colt McCoy and Sam Bradford and a dramatic kickoff return by Jordan Shipley.

3. Kansas 40, Missouri 37 -- Two dramatic late touchdown passes from Todd Reesing to Kerry Meier propel the Jayhawks to a dramatic victory in this old, bitter rivalry. The battered Jayhawks showed remarkable pluck by playing through a run of injuries to topple the North Division champs.

4. Oklahoma 61, Oklahoma State 41 -- Bradford masterfully lead the Sooners on eight-straight scoring drives and might have won the Heisman with his airborne spin near the OSU goal line. And he earned enough style points that computers pushed his team over the rest of the South Division the next day to boost them into the Big 12 title game.

5. Texas 28, Oklahoma State 24 -- The Cowboys almost pull off an improbable road upset in a game settled on the final play on a late deflection by Curtis Brown.

6. Colorado 17, West Virginia 14 -- Buffaloes do a number on West Virginia's rushing attack and win the game on a field goal that earned Aric Goodman a scholarship.

7. South Florida 37, Kansas 34 -- The Jayhawks lose a chance for a big nonconference road victory when Reesing is intercepted with 30 seconds left. The mistake allowed the Bulls to escape on Maikon Bonani's game-winning 43-yard field goal on the final play of the game.

8. Oklahoma State 28, Missouri 23 -- Three second-half interceptions help the Cowboys first highlight cracks in the Tigers' foundation that will become more noticeable later in the season.

9. Nebraska 40, Colorado 31 -- The Cornhuskers look like they are headed back after a dramatic 57-yard field goal by Alex Henery with 1:43 left to win it and a clinching 30-yard interception return for a score by Ndamukong Suh in the final seconds. The victory sends Nebraska to the Gator Bowl and keeps Colorado out of a bowl game.

10. Texas Tech 37, Nebraska 31 (OT) -- Jamar Wall's game-sealing interception in overtime provides victory in a game in which the Cornhuskers dominated offensively in the second half.

11. Texas Tech 35, Baylor 28 -- Harrell leads a gritty comeback from an 14-point deficit early in the second half despite playing with nine separate breaks in his non-throwing hand and without Crabtree.

12. Colorado 14, Kansas State 13 -- Freshman QB Tyler Hansen and a dramatic fourth-quarter performance by the Colorado defense leads the Buffaloes past Josh Freeman and a conservative game plan employed by Ron Prince.

13. Kansas 35, Iowa State 33 -- The Jayhawks storm back from a 20-0 halftime deficit and find a rushing threat to boot as Jake Sharp emerges after riding the bench most of the season before then.

14. Virginia Tech 35, Nebraska 30 -- The Cornhuskers' late rally is stymied by critical penalties and the Hokies' opportunistic offense.

15. Missouri 31, Baylor 28 -- The Tigers escape, despite nearly blowing a 21-7 halftime advantage in a victory settled by Robert Griffin's first career interception after 209 passes to start his career.

16. UNLV 34, Iowa State 31 (OT) -- The Cyclones couldn't claim an elusive road victory despite rallying from a 21-0 halftime deficit to tie the game on Austen Arnaud's touchdown pass with three seconds in regulation. After kicking a field goal to start overtime, ISU's defense allowed a 25-yard scoring pass on the first defensive play to end the game.

17. Colorado 28, Iowa State 24 -- Iowa State tailback Alexander Robinson is stopped in his tracks from the 1-yard line on the final play of the game by D.J. Dykes and Jimmy Smith to preserve the Buffaloes' victory. Cody Hawkins came off the bench to pass for 226 yards and four touchdowns in the second half to rally Colorado from a 10-0 halftime deficit.

18. Oklahoma State 56, Houston 37 -- The two teams combined for 1,182 total yards and 788 passing yards in a wild offensive battle punctuated by 236 receiving yards and three touchdown grabs by Dez Bryant.

19. Arkansas State 18, Texas A&M 14 -- The most stunning upset involving a Big 12 team this season foreshad
owed many troubles for the Aggies this season. A&M squandered a 14-3 halftime lead as Stephen McGee was sacked four times and intercepted twice.

20. Missouri 52, Illinois 42 -- The Tigers nearly squander a 25-point third-quarter lead before two late interceptions by Sean Weatherspoon. Missouri wins despite allowing 451 passing yards and five touchdown passes to Illinois QB Juice Williams.