We’ve known for a couple of weeks now that the Big 12 would send seven teams bowling. Now we know where every team is headed and who they will be facing off against.
There is a lot to like about this bowl season; a match-up against Mike Leach, a chance for Texas to prove they’re “back,” a game against a former conference foe, a play-off appearance. Like I said, a lot to like. But, which one is the best? Let’s rank em!
7. Texas Bowl
DEC 27 | Houston, TX
Someone is going to have to explain to me how the Texas Bowl, which is higher in the bowl pecking order than the Liberty and Cheez-It Bowl, ended up with this match-up.
Nothing against Baylor, they’re a great story, reaching a bowl game in Head Coach Matt Rhule’s second season. I also really like their quarterback, Charlie Brewer. I think he’s one of the best in the Big 12. But they’re barely 6-6, with wins over inconsistent Oklahoma State and a Texas Tech team that had completely collapsed at the end of the season.
Then they’re match-ed up with a fellow small school in Vanderbilt who, like Baylor, doesn’t exactly have a win on the resume that makes you go, ‘hmmm.’
The two teams play a similar style, and it’s not one I expect will result in a ton of points. That said, I like the quarterback match-up between Brewer and Kyle Shurmur.
6. Cheez-It Bowl
DEC 26 | Phoenix, AZ
To be honest, ranking this and the Texas Bowl were kind of a toss up. Neither is all that attractive. TCU is so banged and beat up the fact that they reached bowl eligibility by beating Baylor and Oklahoma State to end the season was a bit shocking.
Meanwhile, Cal seems to be on the up in Justin Wilcox’s second season. The Bears have some nice wins, including over Washington and USC.
That said, this is two teams with good defense and bad offense. Like, really bad offense. Like, worse than no offense. This one could end up looking like a game even the Big Ten would call gross. But, I do think it’s one of the Big 12’s best chances for a win.
5. Alamo Bowl
#24 Iowa State (8-4)
#13 Washington State (10-2)
DEC 28 | San Antonio, TX
Ok, hear me out for a second. I promise this has nothing to do with my dislike of ISU’s uniforms.
First, I understand that Iowa State fans travel well, and will drink all of the Busch Lite in the city. But that robbed us of what would have been the greatest match-up of the college bowl season between Holgerson and Leach. That alone is reason to drop this bowl down a notch.
Also, I have a weird feeling Iowa State might do to Wazzu what it did to WVU; shut it down and win a close, low-scoring game. Part of that is due to the Cyclones’ style of play. The other part is that Leach is 1-3 in bowl games with the Cougars, and there have been some UGLY ones.
4. Liberty Bowl
Oklahoma State (6-6)
#23 Missouri (8-4)
DEC 31 | Memphis, TN
Here’s the thing with this game; it could be one of the three best or three worst Big 12 bowl games, it just depends on which Oklahoma State team shows up. That’s why it’s dead smack in the middle.
If the Cowboy squad that took down three ranked teams (Texas, West Virginia, Boise State) and nearly knocked off Oklahoma shows up on Beale Street, we could have a classic Big 12 game. If the Oklahoma State team that lost to Baylor, TCU, and Kansas State shows up, it will be a blow-out for Missouri and over at halftime.
The odds aren’t in Oklahoma State’s favor, with running back Justice Hill and offensive lineman Larry Williams skipping the bowl to prepare for the draft. That said, Oklahoma State never holds back in bowl games, so I would expect to them to give it their all.
Plus, Missouri quarterback Drew Lock is pretty damn good and will be worth the price of admission.
3. Sugar Bowl
#15 Texas (9-4)
#5 Georgia (11-2)
JAN 1 | New Orleans, LA
I’m ranking this third because if Texas can somehow win this game (they can’t) I will officially say they are “back.” The Longhorns played will enough in the Big 12 title game to win, but were outplayed in the fourth quarter by the Sooners.
If Ehlinger can rediscover the magic that allowed him to go 10 straight games without an interception, the Longhorns have a real shot in this one. Throw in the fact that Texas this season has played up and down to it’s competition, and you have to think they’ll be “up” for this one.
But, if you are to believe Kirk Herbstreit, Georgia is the third best team in the country, which means they should steamroll a good and talented but not yet “back” Texas program.
If Texas wins will Breckyn Hager cut his hair?
2. Camping World Bowl
#16 West Virginia (8-3)
#20 Syracuse (9-3)
DEC 28 | Orlando, FL
The bowl game itself isn’t a great one, and there aren’t likely to be a lot of fans in the stands, but this match-up is criminally underrated.
Two teams that finished in the Top-20 in the country in total offense facing off should be, and is, must watch television. A final chance to watch Will Grier and David Sill connect. Another chance to watch Eric Dungey and the Orange put up points. What’s not to love?
The reason this one isn’t getting much attention is because the last time anyone watched Syracuse they were getting blown out by Notre Dame. The last time anyone saw West Virginia they lost back-to-back games against Oklahoma State and Oklahoma. That shouldn’t take away from how much fun this one is going to be to watch.
1. Orange Bowl – CFP Semifinal
#4 Oklahoma (12-1)
#1 Alabama (13-0)
DEC 29 | Miami, FL
Of course this is number one. The opportunity to watch the two leading Heisman candidates and the two best quarterbacks in the country face off? How often does that actually happen?
We all want to see just how many points Oklahoma can score on Alabama’s great defense, and then watch to see if Oklahoma defense can hold Alabama’s offense to a single punt. In other words, this game should NOT be short on points.
I don’t think Oklahoma has a real shot to win this one, but I can’t wait to see what Lincoln Riley is able to do with 30 days of preparation and the creative wrinkles he throws at Nick Saban. This will be the best offense Alabama has seen all season, and I hope to GOD we see Kyler Murray and Riley put some fear in Saban’s eyes. At least for a half.