Well we still have a couple of weeks to go until we even see any of these games kickoff, but it's never to early to do a preview, right? Just like last year, the Big 12 has seven bowl eligible teams:
- Oklahoma (11-1)
- Oklahoma State (10-2)
- TCU (10-2)
- Baylor (9-3)
- Texas Tech (7-5)
- West Virginia (7-5)
- Kansas State (6-6)
- TCU's 42-3 dismantling of Ole Miss in the Peach Bowl.
- Oklahoma State's 30-22 win over the Washington Huskies in the Cactus bowl.
- West Virginia lost a 42-37 shootout to Texas A&M in the Liberty Bowl.
- Oklahoma's embarrassing 40-6 loss to Clemson in the Russell Athletic Bowl.
- Texas' humiliation at the hands of Arkansas, losing 31-7 in the Texas Bowl.
- Baylor's poetic loss to Michigan State where the Bears blew a 20 point 4th quarter lead to Michigan State in the Cotton Bowl, losing 42-41.
- Kansas State couldn't complete the comeback against UCLA in the 40-35 loss in the Alamo Bowl.
7) AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Kansas State vs. Arkansas
- January 2nd @ 12 pm CT
- Memphis, Tennessee
I rarely pull against Bill Snyder and the Wildcats, but I just don't think the Wizard has enough talent to make this a close game, and for him that's saying something. If Joe Hubener is under center and misses another medium distance pass, I'll probably pull my hair out. As much as I love to see Hubener throw the ball 10 times, completing 4 of them, and throwing 2 picks, I don't think anyone is going to miss much here. Piggies will probably roll in this one.
6) AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl
Texas Tech vs. #20 LSU
- December 29th @ 8 pm CT
- Houston, Texas
This is where the rankings get really tight. Yes, Tech has one of the worst run defenses in the country. Yes, Leonard Fournette is one of the best (if not the best) running back in the country. On paper does it look like a recipe for disaster? Absolutely. However, didn't Texas Tech beat a run heavy SEC team by the name of Arkansas earlier this season? You get two really gutsy play callers in
Ryan Gosling Kliff Kingsbury and Les Miles. It's a match up that I hadn't given much thought until recently, but now that it's in my mind, I'm very much looking forward to it. Texas Tech's high tempo offense going up against a young and athletic LSU defense, YES PLEASE.
I think that Leonard Fournette will rush for about 200 plus yards, but don't forget that SEC defenses tend to struggle when playing the spread. Who runs the spread better than anyone else in the country? Why yes, the Big 12. Dang it now I really just want this one to be here already. Don't sleep on the Raiders here.
5) Allstate Sugar Bowl
#16 Oklahoma State vs. #12 Ole Miss
- January 1st @ 7:30 pm CT
- New Orleans, LA
Coming in at the 5 spot is the first New Year's Six bowl with a Big 12 team in it. The fact that a NY6 bowl is so low on this list should be some testament for the other bowls on this list, but allow me to explain. This one is the ultimate head scratcher for me. I don't know what to expect. Both teams have a solid NFL prospect on their D-line, a rather underwhelming run game, and therefor love to air the ball around the field. If Ole Miss is able to cause enough havoc up front and throw off Mason Rudolph, expect the Rebels to run off with it. Hopefully, Mike Gundy dials the play calling up to 11 once more and does his best to make it look like Ole Miss' last bowl game appearance.
I know it has a chance to be close and high scoring, but after watching OSU's last two games I'm not sure that they can stop a talented team. On the other hand, it is Ole Miss. A team that can hang points on everyone but Florida, but is also prone to losing to any ranked team other than Alabama. Fun fact: Last time these two teams met in a bowl was in 2003 at the Cotton Bowl, where Ole Miss won 31-28. Will history repeat itself?
4) Cactus Bowl
West Virginia vs. Arizona State
- January 2nd @ 9:15 pm CT
- Phoenix, AZ
Weird stuff is going to happen in this one folks. Yes, this is going to be a De Facto away game for the Mountaineers, but these two teams are too similar for me to expect one to break away from the other in this game. Both teams run a fantastic version of the spread offense, however they both have underachieving (yet aggressive) defenses. I think this one is going to be a "who can stop who from making the extra point first" kind of game. Two years ago a Texas Tech team was able to pick apart the Sun Devils in a 37-23 win in the Holiday Bowl, but then again...Baylor did drop 62 on the Eers. It's a safe bet to take the over in this one. Anything can happen in this one, it's going to be entertaining to say the least.
3) Russell Athletic Bowl
Baylor vs. North Carolina
- December 29th @ 4:30 pm CT
- Orlando, FL
If Stidham is healthy and able to play by the time that this game comes around, it's going to be two very lethal offenses going toe to toe. UNC has the better defense, but I fully expect Baylor to be able to match the Tarheels blow for blow regardless. Now if Chris Johnson is Baylor's QB, then I slide this one down to the 6 spot-- but let's be optimistic. This is another coaching match up that I never knew I really wanted to see until now. Briles vs. Fedora, two Texas natives that love the spread offense. (Spread offense will probably be the most used phrase in this article) Briles a disciple of Mike Leach. Fedora a disciple of Mike Gundy. Briles getting the Baylor head coaching job over Fedora in 2007, so you can add a little soap opera drama to the mix as well. Say what you will about Baylor in bowl games, they are almost always exciting. We could see a repeat of the 2011 Alamo bowl, where RG3 lead Baylor to a 67-56 win over Washington. Expect ALL OF THE PASSING YARDS.
P.S. Listen Baylor (Jason King), the Russell Athletic Bowl is an awesome bowl. Granted, it's not the Sugar, but still great.
2) Capital One Orange Bowl
#4 Oklahoma vs. #1 Clemson
- December 31st @ 5:30 pm CT
- Miami, FL
"A PLAYOFF GAME AT NUMBER TWO?" Is probably what some of you are saying right now, especially those of you that are not Frog fans. I went back and forth between this and the top bowl game on this list for a while, and here is what I have to say about my reasoning for putting this as the second best bowl game. Of all the Big 12 bowl games, this one will easily get the most views, it's the highest ranked match up of any, and it means the most out of any of the games on this list. However, I still don't think that it will be the most exciting bowl game with a Big 12 team in it. Remember last year's playoff games? Oregon blew out Florida State by 40 points and then got beaten by 22 points in the national championship game. Just because the two teams are highly ranked, doesn't always mean that the game is always good. This isn't earth shattering news.
The AP first team All-American QB in Deshaun Watson going up against the AP second team All-American QB, Baker Mayfield (both had worse stats that Boykin, but now is not the time and place for that rant). Both of these players are electric and are two of the most fun players to watch in the country. A rematch of last year's Russell Athletic Bowl, and a potential revenge game for the Sooners. Yup, fans of college football should be getting what they wanted with this one. However, OU is facing the best defense that they have played this season. I know OU travels well, but it's hard to beat Clemson fans on the east coast. I don't expect anywhere near a blowout, but I do expect an emotional game from both teams. Oh and never forget Bob Stoops' ability to blow it in big games. Now the bowl game that I have ranked just a hair above this one....
1) Valero Alamo Bowl
#11 TCU vs. #16 Oregon
- January 2nd @ 5:45 pm CT
- San Antonio, TX
HOLD ON TO YOUR FACES PEOPLE BECAUSE THIS ONE IS GOING TO BE TEXAS TECH ALL OVER AGAIN. This game has it all, a top 15 ranked match up, uniforms that will be just as stunning as the game itself, a lot of points, and a ton of sex appeal. If both teams had healthy quarterbacks for the entire season this game could have been a playoff match up, but alas both teams fell a little bit short of where they were hoping and this game is the consolation prize. This one is going to be close I can already feel it. It's that same gut feeling I got last year when I knew that we were going to paint the walls with Ole Miss, that same feeling that I got when I knew that the Texas Tech game was probably going to be the death of me, and of course that same feeling that I had before the Baylor game where I knew that we would come out with the win no matter what. Don't expect this to be a repeat of the Peach Bowl.
You give Gary Patterson a month to prepare for anyone and I'd say that it wouldn't be unreasonable for you to be relatively comfortable with TCU's chances of winning. However, Oregon's QB, Vernon Adams Jr. has been white hot since he's returned to 100% after breaking his finger in week 1. Adams has thrown for 21 touchdowns against only 4 interceptions during that time span. This also includes Oregon's upset at Stanford, where they chopped down the Cardinal's playoff hopes. He's playing at a very high level right now, and as much as I trust Gary, I am frightened by what the Ducks can do to our secondary.
Now my response to all of this Adams hype is two simple words. Trevone Boykin. Not only will the Frogs have a Boykin at 100%, but we may have a very healthy offense for the first time in a while. We may even get to see Josh Doctson close to full strength, in which case goodness it's going to be even more fun. This game is shaping up to be what the TCU vs. Baylor game was supposed to be. High scoring with a finish that comes down to the wire.
This game is ranked at the top not just because it's TCU playing in it, but because there is so little room for error for both teams. You turn the ball over or make a mental error on defense and the other offense will make you pay for it. Both quarterbacks have the ability to play at the highest level of college football, and there are an abundance of play makers on each team. Just keep this in mind when looking forward to this game: it's going to be close, we'll get emotional, and we will love every single second of it.