Below, we break down the best and worst of the Big 12’s bowl season:
Best win: TCU proved it was in fact deserving of one of the four playoff spots, clobbering ninth-ranked Ole Miss in the Chick-fil-A Peach Bowl, 42-3. The Horned Frogs led 28-0 by halftime and 42-0 in the third quarter. No team was more impressive in its bowl game than TCU, which will return 10 offensive starters in 2015.
Worst loss: Oklahoma's nightmare season ended appropriately, with a 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl. The 34-point margin tied for the second-worst defeat of the Bob Stoops era. It got so bad that ESPN announcer Ed Cunningham called for a running clock in the second half. Oklahoma's season began with national championship aspirations. It ended in embarrassment.
Best offensive performance: In a 40-35 loss to UCLA in the Valero Alamo Bowl, Kansas State wideout Tyler Lockett tied a bow on one of the finest careers in Big 12 history. He hauled in 13 catches for 163 yards and two touchdowns, as K-State nearly came all the way back from a 31-6 halftime deficit. Lockett also had a 41-yard punt return, as well as another touchdown return that was called back on a penalty. Like virtually everyone else he faced this year, the Bruins had no answer for Lockett.
Best defensive performance: TCU obliterated the Ole Miss offense, and senior linebacker Marcus Mallet headed the effort with 10 tackles, a sack and a forced fumble and recovery. The Rebels were held to 9 yards rushing in the biggest margin of victory in Peach Bowl history. Mallet and the Horned Frogs were dominant.
Best special-teams performance: K-State kicker Matthew McCrane capped off a fabulous freshman year by nailing both of his field goal attempts against UCLA, including a 47-yarder. He also very nearly pulled off a dazzling onside kick, using the Rabona technique to throw off the UCLA hands team. The Wildcats couldn't recover. But McCrane finished the season converting 18 of 19 field goal attempts.
Worst play: Baylor's fourth quarter in the 42-41 Goodyear Cotton Bowl Classic loss to Michigan State was full of bad plays. But the worst came near the end when Baylor lined up for a 43-yard field goal attempt that would have clinched the game. Instead, the Spartans blocked the kick, R.J. Williamson scooped up the loose ball and Tony Lippett annihilated kicker Chris Callahan to clear a path, all of which set up Michigan State's game-winning touchdown drive.
Best plays: The Big 12 struggled to win bowl games this year, but excelled at getting big men the ball in space. On its opening possession in the TicketCity Catcus Bowl, Oklahoma State lined up 300-pound defensive tackle James Castleman in the backfield. Castleman took the direct snap and rumbled 1 yard for a touchdown. That, though, was just a precursor. Late in the fourth quarter, the Cowboys needed a third-down conversion to keep the clock running. They put Castleman at fullback and ran him into the flat off play-action. Castleman hauled in the pass, turned up field, smashed his way through a pair of Washington defenders, then dragged another for a 48-yard gain. Castleman's performance overshadowed 400-pound Baylor offensive guard LaQuan McGowan, who hauled in an 18-yard touchdown reception to give the Bears a 20-point leading heading into the fourth quarter.
Best catch: True freshman wideout James Washington helped ignite Oklahoma State's fast start in Tempe with a one-handed, 28-yard touchdown stab off a post route. Washington had a terrific debut season for the Pokes with 46 receptions and six touchdowns. Expect to hear (Mason) Rudolph-to-Washington plenty in the coming years.
Worst performance on a sideline: This ignominious honor goes to Texas A&M student assistant coach Michael Richardson, who struck a pair of West Virginia players on the Aggies' sideline. Richardson punched West Virginia cornerback Daryl Worley in the back of the head, then elbowed running back Andrew Buie in another incident. He was fired after the game.
Best bounce-back performance: K-State played its worst ball of the season in the first half in San Antonio, allowing UCLA to jump to a commanding 31-6 lead. But the Wildcats didn't quit, and fought their way back into the game with four touchdowns on five second-half possessions. It wasn't quite enough. But K-State turned what could have been a humiliating defeat into a thrilling finish.
Worst disappearing act: The Oklahoma and Texas offenses completely no-showed in their bowl games. In the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl, the Longhorns gained just 59 total yards in a 31-7 loss to Arkansas. The Sooners didn't fare much better. Oklahoma turned the ball over five times and failed to convert a third down until the fourth quarter, when it trailed 40-0.
Best quote: "I don't think I have to say anything." -- TCU coach Gary Patterson, when asked if the Horned Frogs' 42-3 win over Ole Miss was a statement to the College Football Playoff selection committee.
Worst example of class: UCLA coach Jim Mora Jr., who brushed aside K-State coach Bill Snyder as the two went to shake hands at midfield. Mora, who was upset about a K-State defender trying to crash through UCLA's victory formation, found out the hard way Snyder is the wrong person to snub. He tried to defend his actions on Twitter, but after a monsoon filled his mentions, Mora deleted his account.
Best example of class: TCU safety Sam Carter donated his entire Peach Bowl gift stash to the kids admitted at Atlanta's Egleston Children's Hospital.