The Big 12 never has an easy go of its bowl schedule – its tie-ins revolve around the SEC and Pac 12 while never playing the Big East (or AAC or whatever that soon-to-be defunct conference is calling itself now). However, 2013 could take the cake. This is a down year for the league, and a huge slate of games allows it the opportunity to win back some credibility. It just has to make sure it wins. Because the sledding it about to get difficult. Here’s the fun the Big 12 is in store for:
AT&T Cotton Bowl: Oklahoma State Versus Missouri
This game should be the best annual non-BCS game in the land, hands down: it pits the best SEC and Big 12 teams that didn’t make it to bowl games. You can usually read that to mean the nation’s two best teams not in BCS bowls. Yet the past couple years have been duds in SEC blowouts. Oklahoma State is still scary good, but Missouri only lost one regular season game this year. They were looking at a trip to the national championship if the Tigers could have pulled out a win over Auburn. While Missouri may have overachieved a bit this year, James Franklin is a nasty QB throwing to a pair of receivers that are 6-6 and 6-4. Oklahoma State better bring a couple step ladders to Dallas.
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma Versus Alabama
Seriously? No. Just no. Oklahoma is a good team. Yet I’m don’t know how the Sooners beat Oklahoma State, except to say anything can happen in a rivalry game. The only hope Bob Stoops has is for history to repeat itself. In 2009 Alabama ended up playing Utah, was disappointed with how things shook out, and proceeded to get blown out by the Utes despite being favored by 10 points. That was the “they didn’t show up” game. Alabama’s lone 2013 loss was on the last play of the last game of the year, when Auburn returned a field goal that fell short over 100 yards for a touchdown as time expired. I know I’ve been knocking OU all year and should give the team more credit, but not in this match up.
Fiesta Bowl: Baylor Versus Central Florida
Does the Big 12 deserved two BCS games? Probably not. But Baylor earned this one by taking home the Big 12 championship. The reward is a game against American Athletic Conference champion UCF. I want to mock the Knights here, but they’ve been legit all season. The defense finished 13th nationally, allowing less than 20 points per game. UCF gave Louisville its only loss of the season, and finished 11-1. It’s only blemish was an early-season loss to #12 South Carolina, 28-25. Baylor may blow the Knights out of the water, but Central Florida is talented enough to keep it close. May be the only game the Big 12 is favored in.
Holiday Bowl: Texas Tech Versus Arizona State
Texas Tech takes home the distinction of the most overmatched Big 12 bowl participant in this match, I fear. The Red Raiders had a lot of fun early in the year and it was exciting to watch the young squad plug in random freshman at quarterback and put up points. But when the team was tested in conference play, it fell apart. Arizona State won team games and the Pac-12 South, which included a a 62-41 beat down of USC that got head coach Lane Kiffin fired. This offense is brutally fast, averages 41 points per game (10th nationally), and lays claim to five victories over ranked foes. Yikes.
Alamo Bowl: Texas Versus Oregon
Wild Wings Bowl: K-State Versus Michigan.
Game sounds scary. It’s not. Michigan is in a downward spiral. Sure, the Wolverines put up 41 on Ohio State and that’s reason for concern – losing the game 41-42 on a failed two point conversion attempt on its final possession. Michigan’s defense will not stop K-State, and John Hubert will go out on top his senior season with over 100 rushing yards.