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Tramel's ScissorTales: Big 12 football goes 5-2 in bowls, best among Power 5 conferences

Berry Tramel
Oklahoman

Big 12 football has finished atop the 2021 bowl standings. 

Kansas State’s 42-20 rout of Louisiana State on Tuesday night finished off the bowl games, and the Big 12’s 5-2 record is the best among the Power 5 Conferences. 

Three mid-majors had a better winning percentage than did the Big 12 (.714). The Mountain West was 5-1, while the Sun Belt and the American each went 3-1. But among the Power 5, the Big 12 was best for the second straight year. 

A year ago, the Big 12 went 5-0 in the postseason. 

Of course, the Big 12 would trade such status for a team in the College Football Playoff. The Big 12 was shut out of the four-team field for the second straight year, unless you count Cincinnati, which is joining the Big 12 in either 2023 or 2024

The Wednesday ScissorTales list the college football programs with the most victories this century and look in on some early-season Big 12 basketball. But we start with the college football bowl standings. 

Here are the Power 5 Conference bowl standings for the 2021-22 season: 

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Jan 1, 2022; Glendale, Arizona, USA; Oklahoma State Cowboys quarterback Spencer Sanders (3) celebrates with the trophy after defeating the Notre Dame Fighting Irish in the 2022 Fiesta Bowl at State Farm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12: 5-2

For the second year in a row, the Big 12 won two New Year’s Six bowls, but with completely different schools. OSU over Notre Dame in the Fiesta and Baylor over Ole Miss in the Sugar last week; OU over Florida in the Cotton and Iowa State over Oregon in the Fiesta a year ago. That means four Big 12 schools have won a major bowl in the last 370 days. And only OU is leaving for the SEC. 

Big Ten: 6-4

One bummer for the Big Ten; it went 1-3 vs. the SEC. Purdue beat Tennessee 48-45 in the Music City Bowl, but not only did Georgia whack Michigan 34-11 in the Orange Bowl, Arkansas beat Penn State 24-10 in the Outback and Kentucky beat Iowa 20-17 in the Citrus. 

Southeastern: 5-7

The SEC’s reputation does not take a hit – not with Alabama and Georgia in the national championship game. But the SEC was 4-4 against Power 5 opponents and just 1-3 against mid-majors. The one victory over a mid-major was Alabama’s 27-6 victory over Cincinnati in the Cotton Bowl. Army beat Missouri 24-22 in the Armed Forces Bowl, Central Florida beat Florida 29-17 in a Gasparilla grudge match and Houston edged Auburn 17-13 in the Birmingham Bowl. 

Atlantic Coast: 2-4

Clemson’s 20-13 victory over Iowa State in the Cheez-It Bowl was the ACC’s shining light. Three ACC teams were in canceled bowls – North Carolina State in the Holiday vs. UCLA, Boston College in the Military vs. East Carolina and Virginia in the Fenway Bowl  vs. Southern Methodist. The only other ACC win was Wake Forest’s 38-10 rout of Rutgers in the Gator Bowl, and Rutgers, with a 5-7 record, was added as a replacement for Texas A&M, which dropped out due to Covid situations. 

Pac-12: 0-5

Second straight year the Pac was winless in bowls. No wonder Lincoln Riley wanted to go West. That’s a league ripe for the pickings. Utah put up a great fight against Ohio State in the Rose Bowl, before losing 48-45. But Oregon State (a 24-13 loser to Utah State in the LA Bowl) and Washington State (a 24-21 loser to Central Michigan in the Sun Bowl), lost to mid-majors. Oregon was rolled by OU 47-32 in the Alamo Bowl. Arizona State lost 20-13 to Wisconsin in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Pac-12 hasn’t won a bowl game since Oregon edged Wisconsin 28-27 in the 2019 (season) Rose Bowl. 

The Big 12’s four eventual newcomers went 2-2 in bowls. Houston and Central Florida won. Cincinnati and Brigham Young (a 31-28 loser to Alabama-Birmingham in the Independence) lost. 

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The List: Most wins in the 2000s  

A subtle clause in OU’s tweet about Caleb Williams the other day struck me. The Sooners have the most wins in college football since 1999. 

Wait, what? Can that be true? I mean, I knew the Sooners would be up there. But more than Alabama? More than Ohio State? 

Turns out, yes. In the 2000s, which now includes 22 football seasons, the Sooners have the most victories.  

Here are the 36 Power 5 programs with at least 150 victories in the 2000s: 

1. Oklahoma 239-53: Another monument to Bob Stoops, who has 184 of these wins and laid the groundwork for Lincoln Riley to get the rest. 

2. Ohio State 237-46: The Buckeyes have been college football’s most consistent big winner over the last 75 years. 

3. Alabama 229-65: The Crimson Tide had some lean years early in the 2000s but is making up ground fast. 

4. Georgia 219-70: The Bulldogs are Ohio State light. Consistency is the hallmark. 

5. Clemson 216-75: Dabo Swinney has averaged 11.9 wins over the last 11 years. That will get you up the list fast. 

6. Florida 215-86: Remarkable that the Gators have won this many games with all the upheaval. 

7. Louisiana State 213-71: Same as Florida.  

8. Oregon 202-77: The Ducks are big winners. They can’t seem to keep a coach, but they are big winners. 

9. Wisconsin 201-84: The Badgers are the Big Ten’s Georgia. Not the big dog, but a force year after year. 

10. Southern Cal 197-80: The Trojans are drafting on the glorious decade of Pete Carroll. Carroll went 97-19 from 2001-09. 

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11. Texas Christian 193-82: And you wonder why Gary Patterson has a statue in front of Amon Carter Stadium? It should be noted, of course, that TCU was a mid-major until 2012. 

12. Texas 193-86: We all like to make fun of the Longhorns, but Mack Brown won big in the first decade of this century. 

13. Florida State 189-94: The Seminoles won big in the first half of the first decade under Bobby Bowden and in the first half of the second decade under Jimbo Fisher. But that back half of each decade has been rough. 

14. Auburn 187-96: The Tigers like to fire coaches, but they win a bunch. Give them credit. 

15. Utah 183-89: The TCU story. Incredible stability with Kyle Whittingham, but the Utes were in the Mountain West Conference until 2011. 

16. Notre Dame 183-93: Brian Kelly brought back the luster. 

17. Miami 182-94: The Hurricanes were a gale force, going 64-10 the first six years of the 2000s.  

18. Virginia Tech 182-94: The Hokies have settled into something just above mediocre, but for a long time under Frank Beamer, they were big winners. 

19. Michigan 180-93: Hard to believe the Wolverines are this low. It’s Michigan! 

20. Oklahoma State 180-98: Yes. OSU has as many 21st-century victories as does Michigan. 

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21. Iowa 177-100: The only school on this list with just one coach. Kirk Ferentz got the job in 1999. 

22. Penn State 175-99: I know the Nittany Lions went through the Gerry Sandusky scandal, but what is Penn State doing this low? 

23. Louisville 174-103: Another school that spent the early 2000s as a mid-major, but this is impressive.  

24. West Virginia 173-102: The Mountaineers are slipping, but this shows there’s a strong base for success in Morgantown. 

25. Michigan State 165-109: I would have guessed the Spartans higher. Mark Dantonio was a big winner, but Michigan State struggled before his 2007 arrival. 

26. Nebraska 165-112: I know things change slowly in college football, but just remember this. In the 22-year history of the 2000s, Oklahoma State has a better football program than does Nebraska. Significantly better. 

27. Texas A&M 164-110: I know the Aggies have a huge stadium. I know they have boosters willing to pay millions for a good football team. I know they think Jimbo Fisher is the second coming of Bear Bryant. But A&M is in the SEC what A&M was in the Big 12. 

28. Kansas State 164-113: Bill Snyder’s miracle lives. 

29. Missouri 157-118: Gary Pinkel was an underrated coach. Over the last 40 years, Mizzou has been quite competitive with Pinkel and quite mediocre without him. 

30. Boston College 157-120: The Eagles quietly are 7-6 most years. 

31. Tennessee 156-119: The Volunteers once were a top-15 program. Now the Vols aren’t a top-30 program. That’s why Josh Heupel will be a hero if he can reverse the trend. 

32. Texas Tech 156-120: Most of this credit goes to Mike Leach. 

33. South Carolina 155-119: Most of this credit goes to Steve Spurrier. 

34. North Carolina State 153-121: I still say the Wolfpack is the most anonymous decent program in America. Boston College at least had Doug Flutie.  

35. Georgia Tech 153-126: Paul Johnson won a bunch of games with the Yellow Jackets. 

36. Stanford 152-115: I would have pegged the Cardinal for higher. But the early part of the century was rough. 

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Early Big 12 hoops: Baylor over Kansas 

OU’s basketball team hung with top-ranked Baylor tough Tuesday night in Waco, and the whole way, I thought, these Bears are really good. 

Then OSU’s basketball team got down 29-15 at home to sixth-ranked Kansas, and I thought, these Jayhawks aren’t all that impressive. 

I know. It makes no sense. 

But those are my takeaways from the ESPN2 doubleheader that featured the Oklahoma teams against top-10 Big 12 squads. 

Baylor looks loaded and ready to contend for a second straight NCAA championship. The Bears beat OU 84-74 despite a splendid performance from the Sooners, who trailed by just five with 50 seconds left in the game and had possession. 

KU? It just seemed something was missing from the Jayhawks, even though KU beat OSU 74-63 despite missing 20 straight shots down the stretch of the first half. 

OSU coach Mike Boynton certainly doesn’t agree. He is high on the Jayhawks. 

“I said it yesterday,” Boynton said Tuesday night. “My first year we beat them twice. That (KU) team won the Big 12 regular season and the tournament and went to the Final Four. I thought two years ago before the pandemic shut down, that that team could have won the national championship. 

“I think this is the best team in terms of playing together, the pieces that I've coached against, in my head coaching time." 

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Maybe so. Kansas certainly has depth. Veteran guard Ochai Agbaji is averaging 20.2 points a game, veteran Christian Braun has emerged as a scorer (16.8 points per game) and Arizona State transfer Remy Martin is averaging 10.4 points and shooting 39.5 percent from 3-point range. 

The Jayhawks have veteran post players in David McCormack and Mitch Lighfoot (KU coach Bill Self benched McCormack in favor of Lightfoot vs. OSU, and McCormack responded with 17 points and 15 rebounds off the bench). 

Self also has Big 12 veterans Jalen Wilson and Jalen Coleman-Lands for depth. It’s a powerhouse team, no doubt. It just seemed like something was missing. 

Meanwhile, nothing seemed missing in Waco. The Bears still play ferocious defense. 

Baylor lost three standout guards off the title team – Jared Butler and Davion Mitchell are in the NBA, and Macio Teague is trying to get there – but who even notices? 

Arizona transfer James Akinjo is a star. He’s averaging 14.0 points and 6.0 assists for Baylor; he scored 27 points against OU, on 10-of-15 shooting. 

L.J. Cryer, a reserve a year ago, is Baylor’s second-leading scorer, averaging 12.8 points, still coming off the bench.  

Adam Flagler, Baylor’s sixth man a year ago, is playing 27.2 minutes a game and averaging 11.5 points a game. 

Six-foot-8 freshman wing man Kendall Brown is averaging 11.6 points a game. 

Veteran wing Matthew Mayer is known for his shooting, but even though he’s slumped this year – 9.0 points a game, 31 percent from 3-point range – he made the defensive play of the game Tuesday night, blocking Umoja Gibson’s late 3-point shot and turning it into fast-break points.  

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Oklahoma forward Tanner Groves brings the ball up against Baylor guard Matthew Mayer during the first half Tuesday in Waco, Texas.

Plus Baylor has big men Flo Thamba and Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua to rebound and protect the rim, and, oh yeah, they’re combining for 14.5 points and 66-percent shooting. 

Some of the stars have changed. But Baylor looks very much like the team that soared to the national title a year ago. 

“As good as I thought,” OU coach Porter Moser said of Baylor. “As good as advertised. They’ve got a great combination of heart, culture, talent. I feel like they’ve got that winning it factor, even when things don’t go their way. 

“Seems unflappable at times. They’re very very hard guards to stop.” 

Moser calls them three-level scorers. Drive to the hoop, hit the mid-range, nail the 3-pointer. Sounds an awful lot like Butler, Mitchell and Teague. 

All of which should encourage the Sooners. OU kept rallying against Baylor. 

Baylor’s defense has known nationwide, but the Sooners shot 55.8 percent from the field against the Bears, courtesy of aggressive driving and excellent passing. OU made 24 of 32 2-point shots. 

Five Sooners scored from nine to 13 points – Tanner Groves 13 (missing only one shot), Gibson and Jalen Hill had 12 each, Ethan Chargois added 10 and Jordan Goldwire scored nine. 

OU lost because it was outscored 19-0 in second-chance points. Baylor is a relentless rebounding team. 

Of course, Baylor is a relentless team in most regards. The Bears look great again. Great enough to win it all. 

Right now, give me Baylor over Kansas. 

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Russell Westbrook goes turnover free 

Russell Westbrook played 34 minutes Tuesday night and did not commit a turnover. In related news, the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Sacramento Kings 122-114. 

Westbrook had played 407 straight games with at least one turnover. In his previous game, a 108-103 victory over Minnesota on Sunday night, Westbrook committed nine turnovers, then defended his lack of ball security. 

“My game is not predicated on shots or if I turn the ball over,” Westbrook said. “Like, I missed some shots, that's part of the game. I’m allowed to miss shots. I can do that, you know, like any other player. I can turn the ball over too. I can do that. That's all a part of the game.” 

Of course, Westbrook has a propensity for turnovers. He ranks fifth all-time in NBA turnovers. Nothing wrong with that, necessarily. He’s in great company. 

Here are the top five in NBA history: LeBron James 4,681; Karl Malone 4,524; Moses Malone 4,264; John Stockton 4,244; Westbrook 4,074. 

Of course, there’s only one problem. Stockton ranks fifth all-time in games played, with 1,504. Karl Malone is sixth, at 1,476. Moses Malone is eighth, at 1,455. And LeBron is 17th, at 1,337. 

Westbrook ranks 167th, at 982. 

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Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) rushes to a corner of the court to hype of fans before facing the Thunder on Dec. 10 at Paycom Center.

The last time Westbrook didn’t commit a turnover, it was March 14, 2016. Buddy Hield was about to lead the Sooners to the Final Four. Lincoln Riley was a one-year offensive coordinator at OU. Travis Ford still was the basketball coach at OSU. 

That night, the Thunder beat Portland 128-94. OKC had its standard starting lineup – Kevin Durant, Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Steven Adams, Andre Roberson – but off the bench came Enes Kanter (game-high 26 points), Randy Foye, Nick Collison, Nazr Mohammed, Anthony Morrow, Cam Payne and Kyle Singler. Long time ago. 

But let’s not pretend that Westbrook has become a turnover machine in his old age. 

Westbrook actually didn’t have outlandish ball security in his early years. I mean, he was among the league leaders, but he was a young point guard. That’s to be expected. 

In Westbrook’s first five years, his turnovers per 36 minutes were 3.7, 3.4, 4.0, 3.7, 3.4.  

Then the more-aggressive Westbrook appeared, and with it came amazing consistency. From 2013-14 through this season, here are Westbrook’s turnovers per 36 minutes: 4.5, 4.6, 4.5, 5.6, 4.7, 4.4, 4.5, 4.7, 4.7. 

Only in 2016-17, when Westbrook was a virtual one-man band, did his turnovers soar. 

One of the redeeming traits about Westbrook is that he’s never pretended to be something he’s not. It’s right there for the world to see. 

If you don’t like turnovers, you won’t like Westbrook. If you can live with turnovers, a team and Westbrook will get along just fine. 

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Mailbag: NIL & football transfers 

The Name/Image/Likeness effect on college football has raised a ton of questions and a ton of concerns. 

Ross: “Do you believe this portal transferring phenomenon involving the likes of Caleb Williams is really about finding the best spot to help them to the NFL or is it a money grab? These players, especially Caleb, know that if they play well and stay healthy they will have every shot to make it high in the draft no matter which school they go to. 

Do you believe they know this and they are just looking for the most money or free cars because they don’t need a specific school to be successful? Another question I have is theoretical. Could a school saturate certain players with (NIL) deals to the point where they don’t give them a scholarship but just pay them handsomely, opening the door for the program to give scholarships to other players not (NIL) worthy giving the program a deeper talent pool with 85 scholarship players and let’s say 10 players that are scholarship talent but pay them with UIL deals instead? I would really like to know where all these OU guys end up and how much money or free cars played a part.” 

Tramel: On Williams, I think it’s a combination of both. NIL and NFL considerations. We can’t sit here and say Williams will be fine in the draft no matter what, when 15 seconds ago we were telling the world that great quarterbacks want to come to OU because of Lincoln Riley. 

If Riley does have a Midas touch with QBs – and that’s what Sooner Nation believed until the day after Bedlam – then why shouldn’t quarterbacks reconsider their situation after Riley leaves?  

As for the potential of NIL allowing schools to stash extra players, I don’t worry about it too much. It could happen, of course. But it comes at a cost. You still can play only 11 players on the field at once. Teams with 95 or 100 virtual-scholarship players are just going to have more disgruntled players, leading to more transfers.  

Even if you’re Alabama or Ohio State or OU, a rash of outgoing transfers is not a good thing. Case in point, the current Sooners. 

Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at btramel@oklahoman.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.