Hope springs in the Big 12

As part of our 100 days until kickoff coverage this week, we're looking at each conference's biggest underachievements and overachievements in the BCS era. Here's what I say for the Big 12:


1. Frequent title visits. There's plenty of talk about the SEC when you talk BCS, but the Big 12 has made an astounding seven trips to the BCS title game. No league other than the SEC has more than three. The Big 12's consistently been in the mix for titles during the BCS era, cementing a status as one of college football's best leagues. The Big 12 is the only league other than the SEC with multiple national championships since the BCS began.

2. Don't hate 'em because they're beautiful. How about Kansas State? The Wildcats were so unlucky, they had a rule named after them back in 1998 when they were No. 3 in the BCS but snubbed by the rest of the BCS bowls. That's the greatest BCS injustice ever, but Kansas State made two later trips to the BCS with a pair of Big 12 titles in 2003 and 2012.

3. If you can't beat 'em, invite 'em. TCU was a huge overachiever, joining Boise State as the most accomplished programs outside the major conferences. The Frogs crashed the Rose Bowl with a huge win to cap an undefeated 2010 season, and West Virginia is the only team in the nation to go undefeated in the BCS with more than two trips. One of those wins was a blowout over Oklahoma. The Big 12's response in 2012? WVU was deemed worthy and given an invite to the league, moving up from the crumbling Big East.

4. The greatest ever? Vince disagrees. USC was riding high on a 34-game winning streak and with Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart leading the way, was being touted as one of the greatest teams ever. Texas' Vince Young brought a 19-game winning streak of his own into the game and the Longhorns knocked off the Trojans for the Big 12's second national title in one of the greatest games ever and one of the greatest individual performances ever by Young.

5. Want a QB? Texas is where it's at. A few have left the state lines (Howdy, Andrew Luck and Matt Stafford!), but Texas has earned a status as a quarterback hotbed, and the Big 12 has done a stellar job of mining much of the league's success on the backs of those quarterbacks. Who knew one state could be so dominant at one position? Some of the best Big 12 QBs ever have hailed from Texas: Vince Young, Robert Griffin III, Michael Bishop, Chase Daniel, Graham Harrell and Kliff Kingsbury all call the Lone Star State home.


1. Oh, Oklahoma. Oklahoma's made eight visits to the BCS, more than any team but Ohio State. However, one of the biggest (and only, really) knocks on Bob Stoops was his team's record in those games. He started out 2-0 with a national title, but hit a five-game skid between 2004 and 2009. The only reason it broke was because the Sooners got lucky and drew an overmatched, eight-win UConn team in the 2011 Fiesta Bowl.

2. Oh, so close. The Big 12 is stuck in the longest drought in school history. No team has played for the title in the past three seasons, but that's thanks to two monumental upsets. Both Kansas State and Oklahoma State went on the road in mid-November as heavy favorites and suffered losses to keep that rough streak going for the Big 12.

3. Yeah, about that title game record. The Big 12 has made seven trips to the BCS National Championship, but is just 2-5 in those games. Two of those losses were certifiable embarrassments: Miami rolled over Nebraska at the end of the 2001 season and USC routed Oklahoma at the end of the 2004 season. When the benchmark is set by the SEC (9-1 in BCS title games, with the only loss coming to an SEC team), it's hard to call a 2-5 mark anything but underachieving.

4. Making history isn't so much fun sometimes. Nobody gave Boise State a chance back in 2006 against Oklahoma and it was only the second team outside of an automatic qualifying conference to make a BCS appearance. The Big 12 champions, led by Adrian Peterson, got ambushed by a barrage of trick plays in the fourth quarter and in overtime and one of the greatest games in college football history featured the Sooners on the losing end. Fun, memorable game, but an embarrassing loss in a no-win situation for Oklahoma.

5. They should be better than this. Texas and Oklahoma were finally seeing their programs return to national power status when the BCS was born, but the Longhorns' recent slide has to be one of the biggest stories in the Big 12's history. Just when the money flowing into the program was growing exponentially, the Longhorns' on-field struggles began. The streak of nine consecutive 10-win seasons was amazing, but it's hard to remember those days in the shadow of just 22 wins in the three seasons since 2009. The five-win nightmare back in 2010 was the Longhorns' worst season since back in 1997 under John Mackovic.