Eight of ten Big 12 teams will be bowling this postseason, but that apparently doesn’t mean much to the committee. Oh well, there are some great matchups ahead for the conference’s eligible teams, so let’s take a quick look at what’s on tap.
Birmingham Bowl (Birmingham, AL)
Texas Tech vs USF
December 23, 2017 - 11 a.m. - ESPN
Charlie Strong gets to face a familiar foe in Texas Tech, a team he went 3-1 against while at Texas. In a fun little bit of irony, it was a win over UT that made the Red Raiders bowl eligible, and now they will face the former head man who has taken USF to a top 25 ranking and a double-digit win season. Kliff Kingsbury has saved his job for at least one more season, but a win over a ranked, albeit mid-major, opponent, could generate some positive momentum going forward - in what is another must-win year. Unfortunately, USF is really good. This is a tough matchup for the Red Raiders, but they should be able to get it done.
Watchability Ranking: 7/10
Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl (Dallas, TX)
West Virginia vs Utah
December 26 - 12:30 p.m - ESPN
This is a definite barometer game for the Big 12, who saw their second place team get dumped behind a pair of Pac 12 representatives in the final playoff rankings. WVU, who looked downright explosive prior to Will Grier’s injury, should get their QB back in time for the bowl game, and that could make all the difference against a Utes team that underachieved in 2017, finishing the regular season 6-6. A healthy Eers team has no problem with Utah, and they should be ready to roll.
Watchability Ranking: 6/10
Cactus Bowl (Phoenix, AZ)
Kansas State vs UCLA
December 26, 2017 - 7 p.m. - ESPN
This is probably the worst matchup that any Big 12 team will face in bowl season, and the Bruins - who made the best coaching hire of the off-season (come at me, Ags) - might get a little extra out of Josh Rosen with a month of Chip Kelly’s influence. Kansas State went through four quarterbacks this season, and at least two should be at full health in time for their final game of the season. But it’s hard to see Bill Snyder going with anyone other than Skylar Thompson, who was brilliant at the end of the season to get the Cats to a bowl game. Another thing to keep an eye on - is this the Wizard’s final ride?
Watchability Ranking: 7/10
Texas Bowl (Houston, TX)
Texas vs Missouri
December 27, 2017 - 8 p.m. on ESPN
Texas is BACK - to a bowl game. And while they draw an SEC opponent, it’s not a very good one. The Tigers actually out-won the Longhorns, getting seven victories on the season, including six straight to close the year. QB Drew Lock is one of the most under-appreciated players in the country at his position, as he quietly set the SEC single season passing touchdown record with 43 this year. Lock will face his toughest challenge of the last several weeks in the Texas defense, though, even as players are defecting that unit in hordes to prepare for the NFL Draft. And the Tigers have some nasty defenders of their own that could give Sam Ehlinger all kinds of problems in the running game. This ought to be a close one, but I think Lock out-duels Ehlinger for the W.
Watchability Ranking: 5/10
Camping World Bowl
Oklahoma State vs Virginia Tech
December 28, 2015 - 4:15 p.m. - ESPN
Another intriguing matchup, as the high-powered Cowboys play a defensive minded Va Tech team, the last go-round for Mason Rudolph and James Washington. The Hokies are a really solid team, but they don’t have any shot at keeping up with the offense of OSU if the Pokes are clicking - and in the swan song for two of the best ever to lace it up in Stillwater, I expect them to be fully on their game. Justin Fuente is a heck of a coach, but he doesn’t have enough on offense this year. Cowboys should run away with this one.
Watchability Ranking: 7/10
Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)
#15 TCU vs #13 Stanford
December 28, 2017 - 8:00 p.m. - ESPN
Did the Frogs get screwed out of the NY6 by the committee, who valued Washington’s binge-watching Saturday over TCU’s qualifying for, playing in, and losing a conference title game - to the number two team in the country and a soon to be Heisman winning QB. It’s fine. NO REALLY IT’S FINE. But in all seriousness, the Frogs have one of the best second-tier bowl pairings amongst all the games, as they feature a top 15 matchup with a Stanford team who came within three points (and a fourth and one) of qualifying for a Big Six bowl themselves. Bryce Love vs GP’s front four will be something to watch, as will the swan song for several seniors that have made indelible marks on the program. Lets end our pity party, Frog fans and get to San Antonio. It’s the last ride for Kyle Hicks, Kenny Hill, John Diarse, Des White, Austin Schlottman, Nick Orr, Ranthony Texada, Chris Bradley, Travin Howard, and more. You’re going to want to be there.
Watchability Ranking: 10/10
Iowa State vs Memphis
December 30, 2017 - 11:30 p.m. - ABC
Watch this game just for the crazy Cyclones fans in one of the craziest cities in the country, as letting Iowa State’s fanbase loose on Beale Street should make for some good action in the stands. On the field, Memphis has one of the most explosive offenses in the country, but plays no defense. Could we see a shootout? The massive ISU wide receivers should have a field day, but the Tigers can match blow for blow on O, even against a really good Iowa State defense. This one should have all the points and be tons of fun.
Watchability Ranking: 8/10
Playoff Semi-Final - Rose Bowl (Pasadena, CA)
#2 Oklahoma vs #3 Georgia:
January 1, 2018 - 4:00pm - ESPN
It’s the playoffs, it’s the Rose Bowl, it should be a fascinating matchup. The Sooners should roll against a Georgia team that has a good defense but hasn’t seen anything like Baker Mayfield at QB in the SEC. If the OU defense can slow down the Bulldogs rushing attack and put the game on freshman Jake Fromm’s shoulders, they should punch their ticket to the championship game.
Watchability Ranking: 9/10