Oklahoma and Baylor engaged in a pair of instant classics to highlight the Big 12's 2019 season
Big 12 football never lacks for excitement or entertainment value. Form held true in 2019, with so many wildly competitive games featuring surprising finishes that some worthy candidates failed to make the cut of 10.
One could practically fill out 10 spots entirely with the close calls Baylor escaped en route to the Big 12 Championship Game. And, indeed a spoiler: There's a lot of Baylor included, and that's even after excluding its field-goal kicking contest with TCU that went to three overtimes.
But it's not just the Bears who participated in some memorable affairs in the past campaign.
10 Best Big 12 Games of 2019
10. West Virginia 24, Kansas State 20 – Oct. 26
As the Mountaineers endured plenty of growing pains in Neal Brown's first season as head coach, it was plainly evident the days of 70-63 contests are over in Morgantown. Not scoring or allowing opponents to score at clips that would make Bob Huggins' face red worked in West Virginia's favor against Kansas State.
The Mountaineers cut a six-point deficit in half with an early fourth-quarter field goal, then regained possession to score on one of the season's stranger plays. On 3rd-and-22, Jarret Doege scrambled and heaved a pass to Bryce Wheaton, who had seemingly sneaked into the clear.
After some exchanged possessions with no more points, Hakeem Bailey's interception just in front of the end zone sealed it.
9. TCU 33, Texas Tech 31 – Nov. 16
Max Duggan's 55-yard touchdown pass to Jalen Reagor in the second quarter seemed to begin a TCU rout in earnest. The Horned Frogs jumped ahead 24-3 on the score, but... well, Big 12 football happened.
Texas Tech chipped away at the deficit before blasting it apart with a three-touchdown third quarter. The Red Raiders rode into the final period with a one-point lead, leaving TCU to rally in the final 15 minutes.
8. Texas 50, Kansas 48 – Oct. 19
The final 10 minutes of Texas-Kansas provided a scoring burst one might expect to see on a Big Monday matchup of these two basketball programs. Beginning with a Pooka Williams touchdown run, which led to a defensive conversion attempt return for a score, the Longhorns and Jayhawks combined for 43 total points over that stretch.
Les Miles' decision to play for the win rather than overtime following a touchdown in the final minute gave the Jayhawks a fleeting lead. The Kansas defense couldn't muster enough to stop Texas from moving 60 yards in 10 plays and winning on a last-second field goal.
7. Oklahoma 34, Texas 27 – Oct. 12
Even in seasons when Texas has been considerably down -- even more so than this past, disappointing campaign -- the Red River Shootout has typically been competitive. The 2019 installment was no exception.
This historic rivalry has also featured a number of All-Americans and Heisman contenders. Jalen Hurts solidified his case to be a 2019 finalist for the stiff-armed trophy in part with his heroics in the Cotton Bowl. However, this was as much the CeeDee Lamb Show. The relationships Hurts built with his wide receivers in the offseason shined through, particularly with who was arguably the best receiver in the country all year.
6. Kansas 37, Texas Tech 34 – Nov. 24
Les Miles' first season in Lawrence came with some ups, like thrashing Boston College on a nationally televised weeknight game, and lows, such as losing at home to Coastal Carolina. One of the Jayhawks' greatest highs came when they rallied from a 17-0 deficit to beat Texas Tech on a field goal with zeroes on the clock.
Kansas' win featured Carter Stanley passing for a career-high 415 yards, but most notably, it was essentially won as a result of a blocked field goal -- the Jayhawks' own blocked field goal. A fumble on Tech's return attempt gave the Jayhawks new life, and Liam Jones booted through the game-winner for Miles' first Big 12 victory since his days at Oklahoma State.
5. Baylor 33, Texas Tech 30 (2OT) – Oct. 12
A white-knuckle final drive in regulation, some controversial penalty flags, and a pair of overtimes made for one exciting contest in Waco.
Tech's SaRodorick Thompson scored a touchdown run with just over a minute left in regulation, seemingly sewing up a big road win for the Red Raiders. Charlie Brewer was dealing on the final drive, however, and moved Baylor to the shadow of the goal line for a chip-shot field goal.
Both teams scored on both their overtime possessions, but JaMychal Hasty coming through with a big pass reception and subsequent touchdown run gave Baylor the W.
4. Kansas State 48, Oklahoma 41 – Oct. 26
Bill Snyder and Bob Stoops are both gone from Kansas State and Oklahoma, but the spirit of those teacher vs. student encounters lived in with Chris Klieman's Wildcats stunning Lincoln Riley's Sooners.
K-State's 41-6 deluge spanning the second and third quarters, and lasting into the fourth was one of the more dizzying spells seen anywhere this season. Jalen Hurts came in with the Heisman hype, but Skyler Thompson looked New York-worthy on this day.
Then, as wild as K-State roaring back to take an 18-point lead in the fourth quarter was, Oklahoma nearly bridging the gap was just as shocking.
3. Baylor 23, Iowa State 21 – Sept. 28
After going three quarters without scoring a point, and falling behind by 20 points, Iowa State engineered one of the most staggering rallies of the season -- only for it to be negated in the final minute.
The Cyclones came storming back on two Brock Purdy touchdown passes, one of which went to Johnnie Lang, who also rushed for a score. After trailing by 20 going into the fourth, Iowa State led for 3:24 of the final 3:45. If only for those additional 21 seconds.
Baylor's 14-play drive to set up a game-winning field goal thwarted one of the most impressive comebacks of 2019.
2. Oklahoma 34, Baylor 31 – Nov. 16
One could make a compelling case that this was not just the best Big 12 game of 2019, but the most exciting contest of the entire campaign. With plenty of build-up, prime-time billing on the ABC national telecast, and College Football Playoff positioning at stake, the stakes were high in Waco.
Charlie Brewer's four touchdowns set the initial pace, as it seemed Baylor was headed to the signature win of Matt Rhule's tenure. Instead, trailing 31-10 at halftime, Alex Grinch's defense buckled down and Jalen Hurts went Hero Mode in a wild Oklahoma comeback for the ages.
1. Oklahoma 30, Baylor 23 – Dec. 7 (Big 12 Championship)
The Big 12 Championship Game became a de facto College Football Playoff quarterfinal by virtue of Utah's loss to Oregon in the Pac-12 title game preceding the Baylor-Oklahoma rematch. And this certainly provided the dramatics one might associate with a playoff game.
The Sooners jumped to a 10-0 lead in the first quarter and seemed ready to make quick work of the Bears, given the streak Oklahoma had dating back to the previous encounter. But their first matchup also served notice that a lead wasn't safe. Baylor just had to make two rallies from down 10 points, the second in the fourth quarter to set up overtime.
Given the stakes and the back-and-forth nature, it's tough to ask for more from a championship game. This wasn't just the best game of the 2019 Big 12 season, but arguably the best Big 12 Championship Game since the Texas-Nebraska epic a decade earlier.
— Written by Kyle Kensing, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network and a sportswriter in Southern California. Follow him on Twitter @kensing45.