Some things just go together well. Think peanut butter and jelly, Kanye West and Rick Ross, red, white and blue.
And then there are bowl season matchups, unholy matrimonies of teams that would never schedule each other in the non-conference slate but are thrown together in remote locations to play a meaningless game that only degenerate gamblers care about. It’s the most wonderful time of the year.
Six Big 12 teams will play a postseason game in 2019. Let’s run down the list, starting with the earliest game. I’ll also throw in Las Vegas lines as a bonus.
(All but one Big 12 team is the underdog in these games, and the sixth one is in a pick-em situation. That’s not a good sign.)
Dec. 27: Oklahoma State v. Texas A&M in the Texas Bowl (Houston)
Well, finally, a team wearing orange in the Big 12 will take on the Aggies.
The Cowboys finished the season at a surprising 8-4 on the strength of running back Chuba Hubbard’s outstanding season. Quarterback Spencer Sanders suffered an injury that kept him out of the final games, but apparently he might be able to return for the bowl game.
Texas A&M paid Jimbo Fisher exactly $1,000,000 per win this season, going 7-5 and finishing fourth in the SEC West. For all the bluster about how “A&M is actually a really good team, they just have a tough schedule,” the Aggies’ best win was...a 49-30 win at home over Mississippi State. That’s it.
Line: Texas A&M -6
Dec. 28: Iowa State vs. Notre Dame in the Camping World Bowl (Orlando)
Blech. This game is going to be miserable to watch. Notre Dame’s Ian Book did come on strong at quarterback at the end of the season, but the Irish had much bigger dreams than the Camping World Bowl. There’s no motivation for Notre Dame in this game.
Iowa State also had its sights set on a Big 12 title game run. Instead, the Cyclones finished 7-5 with weird losses to Iowa and Kansas State. Matt Campbell runs an effective but unappealing system that won’t provide fireworks in a bowl game.
My advice is to skip watching this one. It’s at 11 a.m. CT, anyway. Use that time to peek in on Penn State-Memphis and keep pregaming for the Fiesta Bowl, which starts at 2:30.
Line: Notre Dame -3.5
Dec. 28: Oklahoma vs. LSU in the Peach Bowl (Atlanta, CFP Semifinal)
Well, look, Oklahoma, we’re glad you made it into the College Football Playoff and represented the Big 12. But this is where your season is going to end.
The Sooners might be able to put up points against LSU’s defense, although Grant Delpit and Derek Stingley Jr. might have something to say about that. But the Tigers have the best offense in the land, led by Heisman favorite Joe Burrow at quarterback and human cannonball Clyde Edwards-Helaire at running back. It’s not that Oklahoma has a bad defense — not at all. It’s that the Sooners don’t have a good defense, and a great one is needed to stop LSU.
Line: LSU -11
Dec. 31: Kansas State vs. Navy in the AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Memphis)
This game is going to take under two hours to complete and there won’t be more than 20 passes thrown.
It’ll be awesome!
Chris Klieman’s Wildcats were feisty in his first year at the helm. They’re a disciplined bunch with an exciting return man in Joshua Youngblood. Navy is the exact same Navy team you’ve watched for the past 30 years. Watch this game if you’d like to take a midday nap before going out to a New Year’s Eve party.
Dec. 31: Texas vs. Utah in the Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio)
Utah was one win away from potentially making the College Football Playoff. Texas finished 7-5 and didn’t beat a single good team all year. (You can make the argument that Utah didn’t either, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Everyone’s going to make this exact joke, but I don’t care: This is a perfect opportunity for Texas to beat a better team in a bowl game and claim to be “back.” Utah, like Georgia last year, doesn’t want to be in this game, whereas the Longhorns still have something to prove. I don’t think Texas will win, but I do think they’ll cover the spread.
Line: Utah -6.5
Jan. 1: Baylor vs. Georgia in the Sugar Bowl (New Orleans)
It’s going to be very interesting to see what happens here. Georgia’s offense has all the talent in the world but still manages to be anemic. Baylor’s Charlie Brewer has looked off for most of the season and suffered a potential concussion in the Big 12 title game, which led to the Bears playing their third string QB.
Both defenses are solid, so points will come at a premium. Bet the under — I’m seeing it at o/u 42.5, which is wildly low, but still. And put aside your anti-SEC bias, just this once.
Line: Georgia -8.5