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Big 12 Update: Recapping Bowl Season, How Entering Teams Also Did

The Big 12 finished bowl season at 5-4.



[Devin Wilber/PFB]

The most wonderful time of the year is over.

I don’t care what people say about the state of bowl season now and going forward, I’ll enjoy every moment of it.

Bowl season concluded with Big 12 teams going 5-4. Of the six conferences that finished with five bowl victories, the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC also had four or less losses. The Pac-12 had the best record of those at 5-3, while all others were 5-4.

The Big 12’s bowl campaign featured it all, though, from edible mascots, to an incoming member beating an outgoing one. Now that it’s over, here’s how bowl season went for the Big 12, plus the incoming members that will join the conference next season.

Texas Bowl: Oklahoma State 31, Texas A&M 23

The Pokes took down an old Big 12 foe to finish 2023 with 10 wins at 10-4. In September, some were questioning if OSU would even get to celebrate bowl season and extend Mike Gundy’s bowl streak to 18 straight seasons.

You can read the recap from the Texas Bowl here and coverage from that Wednesday night throughout PFB, including superlatives, records broken, grades and Marshall’s 10 Thoughts.

Independence Bowl: Texas Tech 34, California 14

Texas Tech started the Big 12’s bowl season with a win against California in Shreveport, Louisiana.

After trailing 14-7 to start the second quarter, the Red Raiders scored 27 unanswered and shut out Cal in the last three quarters to secure their seventh win and finish the season above .500 at 7-6. Tech scored three touchdowns in the second quarter to take control of the game.

Behren Morton was 27 of 43 for 256 yards, three touchdowns and an interception in the win. Morton, the highest-rated quarterback signee in Tech history, is expected to return to Lubbock after taking the reins at quarterback as a sophomore when Tyler Shough went down with an injury.

Gasparilla Bowl: Georgia Tech 30, UCF 17

UCF’s first season in a Power Five conference concluded with a losing record at 6-7 after a loss to Georgia Tech in Tampa.

The Knights lost to Georgia Tech despite starting the game up 14-0 after the first quarter. Georgia Tech outscored UCF 30-3 in the last three quarters, though.

The good news for UCF, though, is that the day before its bowl game, running back RJ Harvey announced he would return to Orlando for his redshirt-senior season. Harvey rushed for 120 yards on 15 carries the next day in the Gasparilla Bowl. He finished the season with 1,416 rushing yards and 16 touchdowns, averaging 6.3 yards a carry.

Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Kansas 49, UNLV 36

In Jason Bean’s last dance, Kansas beat UNLV in Phoenix despite being flagged 18 times for 210 yards.

I covered North Texas my first year out of college, and on that roster was a redshirting Jason Bean. That was my first year of marriage, and since then, I’ve been married for over five years, have an almost-three-year-old son and switched careers full-time. And Bean has just been slinging the rock the whole time, even if his destinations changed. Bean threw for 449 yards and six touchdowns in his last outing to lead KU to its first bowl win since the 2008 Insight Bowl.

And while Bean held down the fort, quarterback Jalon Daniels will be back next season after missing almost all of 2023 because of injury. Could the Jayhawks be the favorites to win the new Big 12 in 2024? What a time.

Duke’s Mayo Bowl: West Virginia 30, North Carolina 10

Was getting doused in mayo really worth a bowl victory for West Virginia coach Neal Brown?

This season that ended with a bowl victory likely saved Brown’s job, as the Mountaineers finished at 9-4 after being voted to finish last in the Big 12 in the preseason poll.

WVU outscored a Drake Maye-less UNC 13-0 in the second half to put the game away.

Pop-Tarts Bowl: Kansas State 28, NC State 19

Chris Klieman took a bite out of a giant edible Pop-Tarts mascot. What a line. I love bowl season.

The winning coach of the inaugural Pop-Tarts Bowl got to eat the edible bowl mascot to celebrate, and Klieman got the honors after his team beat NC State in Orlando. And now, the deceased Pop-Tarts Bowl mascot is the most famous and beloved mascot in all of Orlando.

K-State, finishing the season at 9-4, got the victory despite freshman Avery Johnson making his first start at quarterback with Will Howard entering the transfer portal. Johnson also got a bite of the mascot after accounting for three touchdowns, throwing for 178 yards and two scores and rushing for 71 yards and another touchdown.

Johnson showed why again the new Big 12 will be a whole lotta fun next football season.

Alamo Bowl: Arizona 38, Oklahoma 24

Out with the old, in with the new.

OU lost to Arizona in San Antonio in its last time representing the Big 12 on a football field. Fittingly, Arizona will be one of the programs replacing OU and Texas next year.

And the Sooners probably turned the ball over again since you’ve been reading this. OU had six turnovers in the bowl game, as highly-touted freshman Jackson Arnold threw three interceptions and fumbled once in his first career start. Not quite the same experience as K-State’s Avery Johnson.

Down 24-13 in the third quarter, the Wildcats outscored OU 24-0 the rest of the way to send the Sooners out of the Big 12 with a second-straight bowl loss. Arizona reached double-digit wins at 10-3 after winning seven straight to end the season, as OU dropped to 10-3.

Liberty Bowl: Memphis 36, Iowa State 26

Iowa State couldn’t overcome a 19-0 first-quarter deficit to end its year with a bowl win, instead finishing its season at 7-6.

Freshman quarterback Rocco Becht had a day, though, throwing for 446 yards and three touchdowns, and didn’t throw an interception while completing 22 of 38 pass attempts. Jayden Higgins had nine catches for 214 yards and a touchdown.

Becht should be back in Ames, adding to a lengthy list of young arms in the new Big 12 next season.

Sugar Bowl (CFP Semifinal): Washington 37, Texas 31

Texas was a 13-yard completion away from playing for a national title in its final game as a member of the Big 12.

The Longhorns nearly pulled off a miracle with extra time gifted from the football gods but were stalled at Washington’s 13-yard line with three straight incompletions before time expired.

Texas finished its last season in the Big 12 as conference champion at 12-2.

Las Vegas Bowl: Northwestern 14, Utah 7

Outside of Arizona beating OU, Utah was the only other of the four incoming schools that made a bowl game, losing to Northwestern in a snooze fest.

Two of the three touchdowns in the game were scored in the fourth quarter after Northwestern took the lead in the second. Utah then scored before Northwestern scored the final points with 6:19 left in the game.

The Utes finished their last season in the Pac-12 at 8-5. Other incoming members Colorado and Arizona State missed out on bowls after finishing at 4-8 and 3-9, respectively. Colorado has the best-ranked transfer portal in the country right now, though.

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