- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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The Big 12 will say goodbye to the BCS era Thursday -- a system that brought the league’s teams two national championships, 12 victories and several of memories.
As college football transition into a playoff system, we look back at the best of the Big 12 in the BCS:
Best offensive performance: Texas QB Vince Young’s game-winning touchdown dash in the 2006 Rose Bowl against USC remains the singular most recognizable play in a BCS game. With Texas trailing defending national champion USC 38-33 at the Rose Bowl, the Longhorns faced fourth-and-5 at the Trojans' 8. Young dropped back to pass. With nobody open, he bailed right, sneaking inside the pylon with 19 seconds remaining, giving Texas the 41-38 victory and its first national championship in 35 years. Even though all that’s remembered is the last touchdown, Young was fabulous all game. He finished with 267 yards passing and 200 yards rushing while carrying Texas to victory over the defending national champions. The BCS seemed to bring out the best in Young, as he was also terrific in the Rose Bowl the year before, racking up 372 yards of offense to lead the Longhorns to a 38-37 victory over Michigan.
Best defensive performance: Oklahoma linebacker Torrance Marshall sent a statement to Florida State before the 2001 Orange Bowl even started. During the coin toss, Marshall told Seminoles quarterback Chris Weinke that he had stolen Oklahoma quarterback Josh Heupel’s Heisman, and that he was going to prove it to everyone. In one of the best defensive performances in college football history, the Sooners went on to completely shut down Weinke and the high-powered Seminoles for a 13-2 victory and Oklahoma’s seventh national championship. Marshall, the Orange Bowl MVP, led the way with six tackles and an interception as Florida State’s offense finished with just 301 yards, well below their season average of 549.
Best game: Oklahoma fans might want to go ahead and skip this category. The 2007 Fiesta Bowl remains one of the most memorable games in college football history -- and a recurring nightmare for the Sooners. After blowing a 28-10 lead, Boise State trailed the Sooners 35-28 with less than one minute to play. But on fourth-and-18, the Broncos forced overtime with a stunning 50-yard touchdown on a hook-and-ladder play with seven seconds to go. After Oklahoma running back Adrian Peterson opened overtime with a 25-yard touchdown, the Broncos went back to their bag of tricks. Receiver Vinny Perretta lined up at quarterback and threw a 5-yard touchdown to tight end Derek Schouman. Instead of going for the tie, Boise State went for the two-point conversion and the win. Quarterback Jared Zabransky took the snap, then on a “Statue of Liberty” play, handed the ball behind his back to Ian Johnson, who ran to left into the end zone for the improbable win. After the game, Johnson proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend -- she said yes.
Second-best game, after Texas-USC: The 2012 Fiesta Bowl featured a clash of first-round quarterbacks and two teams that had been on the cusp of playing for the national championship themselves. Behind Andrew Luck, Stanford jumped to an early 14-0 lead. Oklahoma State wideout Justin Blackmon, however, was virtually unstoppable the rest of the game. Behind three Blackmon touchdown passes from Brandon Weeden, the Cowboys rallied and eventually tied the game in the final three minutes. Luck drove the Cardinal right back down the field, but Jordan Williamson missed the potential game-winning field goal. Instead, the game went to overtime. And after Williamson missed another field goal, Oklahoma State’s Quinn Sharp nailed his from inside the 5, giving the Cowboys a win in their first BCS bowl appearance. Luck, Blackmon and Weeden all went on to become first-round draft picks in the spring.
Special recognition I: Even though it wasn’t in the Big 12 then, West Virginia is the only team in college football with an unblemished BCS bowl record with at least three BCS bowl appearances. The Mountaineers destroyed Oklahoma in the 2008 Fiesta Bowl and Clemson in the 2011 Orange Bowl. West Virginia also defeated Georgia in the 2005 Sugar Bowl.
Special recognition II: Before joining the Big 12, TCU proved that the “Little Sisters of the Poor” could play ball, too. In late November 2010, Ohio State president Gordon Gee declared TCU unworthy of being in the national championship conversation because its schedule comprised “Little Sisters of the Poor” teams. TCU still qualified for the 2011 Rose Bowl and defeated the Big Ten champion Wisconsin, 21-19. After the game, TCU alums put up a billboard in Columbus, Ohio, that read “Congratulations to TCU for their BCS Rose Bowl victory. -- Little Sisters of the Poor.”
Special recognition III: It seems crazy now, but Kansas actually played in BCS bowl just six seasons ago. Behind coach Mark Mangino, the Jayhawks won their first 11 games before falling to Missouri in Kansas City in the regular-season finale. But when the Tigers lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game, Kansas snagged the BCS at-large berth over Missouri to the 2008 Orange Bowl, where the Jayhawks defeated Virginia Tech 24-21. Kansas went to the Insight Bowl the following season, but hasn’t had a winning record since.