Bowl season is officially upon us as we close out 2020 and move on to the New Year. These games are often used as a barometer to measure how well all of the major conferences stack up against each other, and this season the Big 12 will face opponents from the Pac-12, SEC, ACC and one Independent. Six Big 12 teams are competing in post-season play, and all six are currently favored to come out with a win. Listed below is the first slate of games to be previewed.
No. 21 Oklahoma State Cowboys (7-3) vs. No. 18 Miami Hurricanes (8-2)
- Bowl: Cheez-It Bowl
- Date & Time: Tue, Dec 29, 4:30 PM CT
- TV, Betting Line: ESPN, OSU -1.5
Miami is improved in their second season under head coach Manny Diaz, having bested all but two of their ACC foes this year. Those two losses – to No. 2 Clemson and No. 16 North Carolina – came by a combined score of 104-43. The Hurricanes are led by transfer quarterback D’Eriq King, who has a passer rating of 151.9 in 2020. King is a true dual threat and his legs pose a challenge for any defense.
Defensively, a group that has given up 180.6 yards per game this season will try to contain the Oklahoma State rushing attack with new faces on the defensive lineup, as a couple of Miami linemen left early for the NFL. The Pokes, of course, are missing their best offensive piece is Chuba Hubbard, who’s opted out for this game. That might not be as big of an issue, however, as backups L.D. Brown and Dezmon Jackson have both averaged over 5.5 yards per carry this season.
Of course, this season Oklahoma State has been buoyed by its defense, which held opponents to 22.4 points per game this year, while inconsistency and erratic play really hurt the offense. The real key for the Pokes will be whether they can put up points while avoiding mistakes, as they’ve averaged 1.6 turnovers per game on the season. I think they will be able to do that, and the Cowboys’ defense will be the deciding factor in this one.
Prediction: Pokes by a field goal.
No. 20 Texas Longhorns (6-3) vs. Colorado Buffaloes (4-1)
- Bowl: Alamo Bowl
- Date & Time: Tue, Dec 29, 8:00 PM CT
- TV, Betting Line: ESPN, UT -7.5
Colorado has managed to field an impressive 4-1 record in 2020, depending largely on the legs of running back Jarek Broussard, who’s averaged 6.3 yards per carry on 129 carries. The Buffaloes will look to converted safety Sam Noyer as their starting signal caller, and Noyer’s been serviceable at the position, posting a 58.4 percent passing percentage.
The Buffaloes have been solid defensively all season, holding opposing passing attacks to 220 yards per game. They’ve also been good at making opponents punt all season, allowing only 6.6 first downs a contest. Colorado comes into the Alamodome, additionally, playing in only their second bowl in ten years, so motivation should be high for the Buffaloes.
Texas, on the other hand, returns to San Antonio for the second post-season in a row, questions about the Longhorns’ motivation are certainly valid: players have opted out on both defense and offense, and there’s not much at stake here for a team that missed out on a shot at the Big 12 title.
That’s not good news for a Texas defense has struggled all season, particularly in pass defense, where they’ve surrendered 274.2 yards per game. Of course, the offense, led by Sam Ehlinger, has been the best the Longhorns have fielded in over a decade, scoring 41.2 points per contest. Running back Bijan Robinson emerged as a playmaker late in the season, averaging 6.8 yards per carry. Robinson and the running game will likely be the key in this one – if the Longhorns can run the ball and move the chains consistently, they should win their second straight Alamo Bowl.
Prediction: Longhorns by six.