Following a 70-63 West Virginia win over Baylor in 2012, Alabama head coach Nick Saban famously quipped, "Is this what we want football to be?"
While the exhausting game of grassketball West Virginia and Baylor played six years game took it to an extreme, the prevalence of high-powered offense in the Big 12 has made the conference arguably the most entertaining in college football. A 2018 season largely devoid of upsets and exciting finishes had an abundance of them in the Big 12.
What we want football to be is fun and exciting. The best Big 12 games of the 2018 season provided that, and more.
10 Best Big 12 Games of 2018
10. Oklahoma State 38, Texas 35 – Oct. 27
Vince Lombardi once said, "We didn't lose. We just ran out of time." The sentiment works for Texas' loss at Oklahoma State in 2018.
Oklahoma State — off to a 1-3 start in Big 12 play and drawing plenty of media criticism — stormed to a 31-14 lead over Texas by halftime. Cowboys quarterback Taylor Cornelius hit every right note, throwing for three touchdowns and rushing for a fourth.
Cornelius scored a fifth touchdown in the fourth quarter, and it proved critical. By that point, Texas had gradually cut the deficit down to three points. The Longhorns again sliced the deficit to a field goal on Tre Watson's touchdown run with 1:46 left, but Oklahoma State escaped with its game-long lead still intact.
9. Iowa State 42, Kansas State 38 – Nov. 24
Basketball's usually the sport hit with the "game of runs" cliche, but the description applies nicely to Iowa State's comeback win over Kansas State.
The two exchanged scores over the first two quarters and change, before a 17-point outpouring put the visiting Wildcats ahead in the fourth quarter, 38-21. The prospects of K-State gaining bowl eligibility and giving outgoing coaching legend Bill Snyder one more date on the sidelines picked up dramatically.
Over the next eight minutes, however, they vanished. A Brock Purdy touchdown pass and David Montgomery ground score bookended Mike Rose's 21-yard scoop-and-score in a dizzying 5:44. Kansas State's 38-21 lead quickly became a 42-38 deficit from which the Wildcats could not recover.
8. Baylor 45, Vanderbilt 38 – Dec. 27
Bowl season wasn't exactly rife with memorable contests. Baylor's back-and-forth Texas Bowl affair with Vanderbilt stood out as an oasis of excitement in a desert of lopsided matchups.
There were seven lead changes and a tie that came with just 3:30 remaining. Ryley Guay's field goal to cap a 13-play drive knotted it at 38, and provided three of the combined 24 points Baylor and Vanderbilt produced in the fourth quarter.
Bears quarterback Charlie Brewer quickly broke that tie when he found Marques Jones for a 52-yard touchdown for the game's seventh and final lead change. One year after winning just one game, Matt Rhule coached Baylor to the right side of .500 and a bowl victory.
7. Oklahoma 59, West Virginia 56 – Nov. 23
With a head-to-head win over Texas already to its credit, West Virginia welcomed Oklahoma to Morgantown on Thanksgiving weekend needing a victory to reach the Big 12 Championship Game. Considering the Sooners only lost once coming into the regular-season finale, however, that was a tall order. Equally daunting was the task of defending Kyler Murray, who had steadily built his Heisman case over the previous three months.
Although his argument was already strong, Murray added an exclamation mark to the resume with 364 passing yards and three touchdowns, and another 114 rushing yards with a score. It was one of the most impressive, individual performances of the 2018 season — and not the only such showing that day in Morgantown.
Marquise Brown posted a staggering 243 receiving yards in the Oklahoma win, including a 45-yard touchdown reception late in the third quarter during a wild exchange of three scores in less than two minutes. Had West Virginia won, Will Grier's 539 passing yards and four touchdowns would have become the stuff of legend.