For those seeking a bit more variety in Big 12 bowl-game destinations, you’ll have to wait until at least 2026.
As other Power-5 conferences announced a revamped slate of affiliated bowl games this week, the Big 12 announced Tuesday that it will retain the same affiliated games through the 2025 season — though the Cheez-It Bowl, starting in 2020, will pit the Big 12 against the Big Ten rather than the Pac-12 (Yes, the Pac-12 apparently never wants another member school to endure what Cal went through in the desert last December).
Nonetheless, bowl season — no matter the lineup — always gives us the opportunity to dream about matchups that may otherwise never materialize anytime soon. And with the latest news in the heart of the offseason, what better time to imagine about who may go against who in the seasons to come before the lineup expires six years down the road?
To avoid going down an endless rabbit hole of theoretical postseason clashes, this list is limited to two matchups for each game with a Big 12 affiliation. If you wish, we can come back to this article in 2026 and lament how none of these dream games ever happened — maybe the football gods will be gracious enough to prove us wrong — but for now, let’s go to a world of pure imagination (and maybe some occasional nonsense) while we still can.
Are you ready?
All-State Sugar Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC)
- TCU vs. Alabama - Will TCU ever crack the College Football Playoff? Given the selection committee’s tendencies over the years, I have no idea, but this is the ultimate non-playoff scenario for the Horned Frogs, assuming there’s no non-CFP route to the Rose Bowl for a Big 12 team anytime soon. Under normal circumstances, the Horned Frogs would have gone to New Orleans twice in the past five years — 2014 and 2017 — but that didn’t happen since the Sugar Bowl hosted a playoff semifinal each of those seasons rather than the traditional Big 12/SEC showdown. Frankly, if the Horned Frogs and Crimson Tide can simultaneously put together 10-win seasons that are strong, but not strong enough for a CFP bid, we could finally be on a collision course for Gary Patterson vs. Nick Saban. Just don’t do it in 2020 or 2023, please.
- Texas vs. Texas A&M - This could happen very soon. Heck, maybe even this season. Can you see Texas and Texas A&M finishing as the runner-ups in the Big 12 and SEC, respectively? That’s not unfathomable by any means, given the state of each program. If the conference champions are playoff bound (think Oklahoma and Alabama) then it’s automatically game on between the Longhorns and Aggies at the Superdome. The end of an 8-year drought. Tom Herman vs. Jimbo Fisher. Bevo vs. Reveille (mascot meet not encouraged). Just think of the content. Just play the game already.
Valero Alamo Bowl (Big 12 vs. Pac-12)
- Texas Tech vs. Washington State - Who doesn’t want the Mike Leach bowl? Who doesn’t want a game that features absolutely zero defense? We don’t need to say anything more than that.
- Texas vs. USC - Bru McCoy was committed to USC, until he wasn’t. He was then committed to Texas, until he wasn’t. Now that’s he’s back to Point A, how about a rubber match between the two schools that each won the home-leg of a home-and-home series over the past two seasons? Winner gets McCoy. It’s only fair that it’s settled on the field — which can only happen in a bowl game meeting, and soon, at this rate.
Camping World Bowl (Big 12 vs. ACC)
- West Virginia vs. Pitt - It’s a travesty the Backyard Brawl hasn’t materialized since 2011. Sure, it will be revived from 2022 to 2025, but who wants to wait three more years? Even if it’s not played in Morgantown or Pittsburgh, West Virginia vs. Pitt is still West Virginia vs. Pitt.
- TCU vs. Virginia Tech - Not only have the Horned Frogs and Hokies never met on the gridiron, but the story here would of course be Justin Fuente going up against the coaching staff he used to be a part of from 2007-2011. An underrated potential matchup that also gives you an excuse to go to Disney World and Universal, to be honest.
Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC)
- TCU vs. Texas A&M - The most recent meeting between the Horned Frogs and Aggies was this very bowl game, way back in 2001. And considering A&M all but refuses to schedule Big 12 schools for non-conference matchups nowadays, a bowl game is the only way we can restore this long-lost SWC rivalry.
- Texas vs. Tennessee - Is it problematic we have two schools sporting orange that go by “UT”? Maybe. Let’s settle it in the UT bowl. We haven’t seen the Volunteers and Longhorns go head to head in 50 years, after all. For the record, I don’t like Tennessee’s chances here. At all.
Liberty Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC)
- Kansas vs. LSU - Don’t lie to yourself. Les Miles vs. his old school and Ed Orgeron at an aging venue in Memphis is the dream game you never knew that you were desperate to watch. I don’t want to hear about how outrageous this is. Let’s just hope Kansas can find a way to get to six wins, LSU can regress to a 7ish-win team, and then we can go from there.
- Kansas vs. Missouri - If you couldn’t already tell, we’re all about restoring rivalries here. And we can’t leave out the Border War if we already have Texas/Texas A&M and The Backyard Brawl on this list, right? Too bad we have to wait until at least the 2020 season for this to happen with the Tigers on a bowl ban this winter. That should put Shawn Robinson on pace to be Mizzou’s starter by then, at least.
Cheez-It Bowl (Big 12 vs. Pac-12 (2019), Big 12 vs. Big Ten (2020-2025))
***Proceed with extreme caution***
Also, we’ll stick with Big 12-Big Ten matchups here, because that’s a lot more fun.
- TCU vs. Michigan - If we’re being realistic, TCU probably wants no part of the Cheez-It Bowl ever again as long as the arena of chaos that is Chase Field is still standing. And yet all of us, deep down inside, are craving at least one more dose of the insanity that we were treated to last fall. I don’t know if it’s possible to ever match 2018, but a Cheez-It Bowl pitting Gary Patterson against Jim Harbaugh has to provide for a least a few fireworks, right? I very much doubt that this game will ever happen, but the Cheez-It Bowl and logic don’t mix together anyways. Once the Horned Frogs win the national championship, we can fall back on this goal.
- Oklahoma vs. Nebraska - The year is 2025. Lincoln Riley’s offense has somehow collapsed (or maybe the defense just couldn’t stop anybody that season), and Nebraska is still stuck in mediocrity. But the consolation is another rebirth (there’s already a home and home scheduled) of what was once among the most entertaining rivalries in all of college football. In a defensive battle where turnovers abound and nobody can find the end zone heading into the eighth overtime, a fumbled snap by the Huskers goes the other way to give the Sooners a walk-off score scoop and score. You heard it here first.
Armed Forces Bowl (Big 12 (if necessary) vs. Group of Five)
- Baylor vs. SMU - Because we will all laugh when a pair of TCU’s rivals who are a collective 0-8 against the Horned Frogs since 2015 are forced to play a bowl game at Amon G. Carter Stadium that few folks in Fort Worth will have much of a desire to attend, other than maybe for the sake of booing the Bears and Mustangs for all four quarters.
- Army vs. TCU - Only because I’m curious how the Horned Frogs would fare against the triple option and it doesn’t appear we’ll be getting any other opportunity for that anytime soon. Then again, if the Horned Frogs are playing in the Armed Forces Bowl, then we have some bigger problems to worry about from a competitive standpoint.
First Responder Bowl (Big 12 (if necessary) vs. Group of Five)
- Oklahoma State vs. North Texas - For a bowl game that needs a bounce-back after last year’s hot mess, this could be it — Oklahoma native Mason Fine and the Mean Green against the school that passed up on him as a recruit. 2019 is Fine’s senior season, so it’s now or never. With the Cowboys coming off a 6-6 regular-season finish in 2018, who knows — the stars might just align perfectly for this game to happen.
- Texas vs. South Florida - Not going to happen this year, but does the Red River Showdown or the Charlie Strong bowl sound more appealing among contests played at the Cotton Bowl? @ChuckFnStrong will have a field day with this one, if we’re lucky enough to see it happen.