Dec 7, 2013; Waco, TX, USA; Baylor Bears defensive end Jamal Palmer (92) and defensive tackle Trevor Clemons-Valdez (98) celebrate a defensive stop of Texas Longhorns during the second half at Floyd Casey Stadium. The Bears won 30-10 to win the Big 12 championship. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Big 12 football bowl picks: Cotton Bowl, Sugar Bowl give best postseason matchups

The final Bowl Championship Series run is underway in the new year, and two Big 12 teams will be part of the action. While Baylor becomes the biggest favorites in the entire series, Oklahoma will get last year’s college football national champions.

Tostitos Fiesta Bowl – (15)UCF (11-1) vs (6)Baylor (11-1) (-17)
Wednesday, Jan. 1 – 7:30 PM CT (ESPN)

The Golden Knights rely on their defense to win games. No one has cracked 40-point mark against them, and only Penn State, Louisville, and Temple put up 30 or more points on them. Their lone loss came at home against South Carolina. The Gamecocks surged in the second half after UCF had a slim lead at half.

Of course, their schedule hasn’t been that strong. Sure, they faced USC and Penn State in their non-conference slate, but the American Athletic Conference had Louisville and Cincinnati…and that’s about it. The Bearcats led the conference averaging 472.1 yards per game; Baylor averages 623.8 per game.

Even when facing good defenses, Baylor would usually wear them out or capitalize on offensive mistakes. UCF hasn’t been as good protecting the ball recently coughing it up 13 times in the final seven games. It will probably be a slow start for the Bears who didn’t the big stage well their last time out, but their offense will roll in the second half. BAY 38, UCF 17

Allstate Sugar Bowl – (11)Oklahoma (10-2) vs (3)Alabama (11-1) (-16.5)
Thursday, Jan. 2 – 7:30 PM CT (ESPN)

Nov 30, 2013; Auburn, AL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron (10) throws against the Auburn Tigers during the third quarter at Jordan Hare Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

The first edition of the new Sugar Bowl matchup between the Big 12 and SEC wasn’t supposed to happen until next year, but this is about as big of a matchup as you’ll ever see in the new series. It will be interesting to see how both teams play; the Sooners still face quarterback issues while it remains to be seen if the Crimson Tide will actually show up after being one play away from their third straight trip to the championship game.

As long as Nick Saban has his team ready, they’re still as good as anyone in college football. AJ McCarron is putting together a tremendous season to put a stamp on his career, completing 67.6 percent of his passes and has 26 touchdown passes to just five interceptions. That will be the more interesting side of the football game to watch, as Oklahoma’s defense ranks first in the Big 12 giving up just 198 passing yards per game.

The inconsistency Oklahoma has had on offense will take its toll against a very tough defense fourth overall in the country. ALA 31, OKLA 26

AT&T Cotton Bowl – (13)Oklahoma State (10-2) vs (8)Missouri (11-2) (+1.5)
Friday, Jan. 3 – 6:30 PM CT (FOX), Cotton Bowl tickets

It won’t be as great of a matchup as the Sugar Bowl is, but there will definitely be more scoring. Both teams are able to pass the ball well, the question will be if Missouri can stop Oklahoma State’s rushing. The Cowboys were able to put up a season-high 342 yards on Iowa State, 281 on Texas Tech, 154 on Baylor, and 200 on Oklahoma. The Tigers gave up three straight games over the century mark in rushing to end the season and an unbelievable 545 yards to Auburn in the SEC Championship.

If that same defense shows up in the Cotton Bowl, Missouri has little chance to contain Desmond Roland and Jeremy Smith. Clint Chelf showing some mobility at the quarterback position would just be icing on the cake. OKST 49, MIZZ 29

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