McALESTER — Baylor’s 52-42 loss to Central Florida in Wednesday’s Tostitos Fiesta Bowl may have been an upset. It might even have been a knock against the Big 12 Conference, which saw one of its flagship teams fall to the up-and-coming American Athletic Conference.
But the Bears’ offense scored 42 points in a closely contested game Wednesday. The Fiesta Bowl provided plenty of entertainment in a bowl season that early on saw 13 different games won by at least 15 points.
Overall this postseason, the Big 12 has held its own.
Four of the six bowl-qualifying Big 12 teams have already played, going 2-2. Baylor lost to UCF and Texas lost to Oregon in the Alamo Bowl, but Kansas State dominated Michigan in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl and Texas Tech did the same to Arizona State in the Holiday Bowl.
The Big 12 has basically played its four opponents even, with opponents scoring a combined 119 points and Big 12 teams scoring a combined 117.
The Big 12 featured six bowl-eligible teams this season. Oklahoma played Alabama in the Allstate Sugar Bowl on Thursday and Oklahoma State plays Missouri in the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic tonight.
The Cotton Bowl may not be a BCS bowl like the Fiesta or Sugar bowls, but it’s still a 78-year-old bowl respected enough to keep the name virtually intact since it started in 1937. Big 12 teams faced ranked Southeastern Conference opponents in both the Fiesta and Cotton bowls, giving the Big 12 a huge opportunity to show its mettle.
The SEC didn’t lead the country in bowl-eligible teams this year, its 10 teams coming in second behind the Atlantic Coast Conference’s 11. But the SEC has gone 5-1 through its first six bowl games, and the ACC has gone 3-6.
Even if Clemson wins Friday’s Orange Bowl and Florida State wins Monday’s national championship, the ACC will still finish the bowl season with a losing record, and at worst the SEC will finish 5-3.