Here’s my list of Big 12 Bowl games ranked in terms of personal interest/storylines and nothing more. We will have our picks for these games, against the spread, in the coming weeks! We start with the least interesting, and working our way to number 1.
7) Cactus Bowl – Oklahoma State vs. Washington
The biggest storyline for Oklahoma State is getting another chance to see the growth around freshman QB Mason Rudolph. Can he give Cowboys fans a reason to feel good about the position heading into spring ball in 2015?
Also, it’s our first look at the future of the Oklahoma State offense without Tyreek Hill. While he didn’t live up to the insane expectations in Stillwater, he was an effective player, specifically on special teams. So, what will OC Mike Yurcich have in store?
6) Russell Athletic Bowl – Oklahoma vs. Clemson
I know, I know. The game features Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables against his former bosses and co-workers in Norman. Eh … it doesn’t excite me. In reality, these are two of the biggest enigmas in the game, that continue finish with records that do not reflect the massive amount of talent on each respective roster.
The quarterbacks for both teams (Trevor Knight/Cody Thomas) and Cole Stoudt leave plenty to be desired. Clemson freshman QB Deshaun Watson impressed all season long, and would be worth watching, but he underwent surgery on his partially torn ACL.
5) Liberty Bowl – West Virginia vs. Texas A&M
Both teams finished the year 7-5 and have high-flying offenses, and borderline horrendous defenses. For WVU, it’s the last chance to cheer on QB Clint Trickett and WR Kevin White. The offenses are nearly identical, as A&M offensive coordinator Jake Spavital was an assistant for Dana Holgorsen two seasons ago.
This game has the potential to be a mirror image of last year’s Chick-fil-A Bowl, ironically featuring Texas A&M against Duke, ending with an Aggies 52-48 win. Also, it’s one of the old Big 12 teams vs. one of the replacements. Considering the permanent chip A&M seems to have on their shoulder, there’s no doubt they’d love to beat a Big 12 team.
4) Alamo Bowl – #11 Kansas State vs. #14 UCLA
Despite featuring two top-15 teams, there isn’t a must-watch, sexy match up in this game, and that’s what keeps it outside the top 3 for me. In fact, TiqIQ reported these are the cheapest Alamo Bowl tickets in four years.
This is the last college game for UCLA QB Brett Hundley, who declared for the NFL Draft. He could use a good game against a quality defense to help his cause, although I don’t see that happening (mid-round pick IMO). It is a chance for Wildcats fans to say goodbye to QB Jake Waters and WR Tyler Lockett.
3) Texas Bowl – Texas vs. Arkansas
A one-time great rivalry filled with many memories for old Southwest Conference college football fans. Not only will these two teams squaring off give it an old-school feel, so will the style of play. Both teams have strong defenses, and power run games … two things that become more extinct with each passing football season.
The Razorbacks came on late with wins over LSU and Ole Miss, and one score losses to Alabama and Mississippi State, while Texas finished the season winning 3 of 4. We will see if Texas QB Tyrone Swoopes can end his season on a high note, and solidify his starter’s spot heading into 2015, or if the Longhorn faithful continue to crow for a potential transfer … i.e. Braxton Miller?
2) Peach Bowl – #6 TCU vs. #9 Ole Miss
Another chance for the Big 12 to square off against the “mighty” SEC. The Big 12, led by Bob Stoops, has been the most vocal conference in discussing, what they perceive to be an overrated SEC. TCU QB Trevone Boykin goes up against the top scoring defense in the country. Boykin has struggled on the road outside the state of Texas (West Virginia, Kansas), but this will be a neutral field environment and on an indoor track (Georgia Dome).
And the question that we can ask for both TCU and Baylor: do they play as teams that wants to prove they should have been in the College Football Playoff? Or teams with hangovers that are disappointed by being left out?
1) Cotton Bowl – #5 Baylor vs. #8 Michigan State
Is there any doubt that Art Briles is going to try to stick it, not just to the committee, but to the Big 10? With Ohio State finishing ahead of both Big 12 schools for the final CFB Playoff spot, it’s Briles’ chance to prove that the B1G was a bad Conference that didn’t deserve a spot in the playoff.
The defense in East Lansing is not nearly as good as in recent seasons. If Briles has a chance to blow the doors off this game, he will. And, when you have Briles coaching against Mark Dantonio, two guys who never have a problem speaking their mind, I expect some fireworks.