The Big 12 bowl season kicked off late Saturday night with Kansas State throttling Michigan 31-14 in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. Five more teams from the conference will be in action later this year.
As usual, there’s some pretty good matchups on the slate. Outside of a likely blowout in the Big 12’s Fiesta Bowl, each team will face a significant challenge.
Let’s start with the doubleheader on Monday that features two Pac-12 teams favored by two touchdowns against Big 12 teams. The Pac-12 has arguably been the most complete conference in the nation this year.
Valero Alamo Bowl – (10)Oregon (10-2) vs Texas (8-4) (+14)
Monday, Dec. 30 – 5:45 PM CT (ESPN)
If it wasn’t for Oklahoma defeating Oklahoma State in the final game of the season, the Ducks would have likely made it as an at-large bid in a BCS bowl game. Instead, they dropped all the way to the Alamo Bowl to face a Longhorns team that lost two of their last three games.
That’s not to say Oregon got screwed. They did themselves in after falling apart and looking less interested when their national championship hopes faded against Stanford. Some of that was due to quarterback Marcus Mariota finally getting banged up and didn’t play as well throughout the month of November. With almost a month off to heal, he should be back to near full strength.
The focus for Texas will be Mack Brown’s retirement. He’ll try to end his long, successful tenure with the Longhorns on a surprising victory, but they’ll have to overcome the loss of running back Johnathan Gray who was definitely missed when his season ended early. Malcolm Brown has done a decent job filling in, but he’ll need to establish himself early if Texas wants a chance to win the game.
That’s the key for the burnt orange; if they want to win, they can’t get behind early. Oregon is made to put opponents down early on the scoreboard, and Case McCoy isn’t a dynamic enough quarterback to bring Texas back from a huge deficit. I believe the Longhorns will come out with passion early, but the Ducks will end up with the win. ORE 38, TEX 27
National University Holiday Bowl – (14)Arizona State (10-3) vs Texas Tech (7-5) (+14)
Monday, Dec. 30 – 9:15 PM CT (ESPN)
With five straight losses heading into the game, Texas Tech is at a pretty huge disadvantage by facing the loser of the Pac-12 championship game. Both teams had higher aspirations after their starts to the season. Now that TTU quarterback Baker Mayfield will transfer, it’s all on Davis Webb to lead the team.
Webb will obviously be passing up a storm, firing for 2,315 yards and 16 touchdowns in the air. The question will be if the defense will be as disastrous as it’s been – the Red Raiders gave up a 48.6-point average in their five losses.
If so, then it could be a long day on offense with how good Arizona State’s defense is in comparison. The Sun Devils have 21 picks and 40 sacks, and those numbers will just get bigger if Texas Tech relies on just their passing game. The Pac-12 co-champions win big. AZST 49, TTU 21
Other Big 12 bowl games
- Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – (15)UCF (11-1) vs (6)Baylor (11-1) (-16.5)
Wednesday, Jan. 1 – 7:30 PM CT (ESPN)
- Allstate Sugar Bowl – (11)Oklahoma (10-2) vs (3)Alabama (11-1) (-15)
Thursday, Jan. 2 – 7:30 PM CT (ESPN)
- AT&T Cotton Bowl – (13)Oklahoma State (10-2) vs (8)Missouri (11-2) (-1)
Friday, Jan. 3 – 6:30 PM CT (FOX)