The 2016 college football bowl season begins for the Big 12 this week, here are our picks against the spread for Baylor, West Virginia, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU and Oklahoma.
For the season, we are now 33-33, after going 3-0 in Week 14 and closing the season with a 15-5 record the final 4 weeks of the season.
We will continue to roll out our picks as the week progresses.
Cactus Bowl: Baylor vs. Boise State
Can Baylor end the season on a high note after wrapping up the regular season with 6-straight losses? Nope.
Often times these bowl games come down to motivation. The only possible explanation to believe Baylor players will show any more motivation than what they did in the second half of the season is that they’ll be inspired by the hiring of new head coach Matt Rhule. I think that’s a stretch.
Meantime, Boise State is annoyed they’re “only” playing in the Cactus Bowl, as they were 9 points (Wyoming, Air Force) away from being 12-0 this season. Plus, the small conference schools always have a little more motivation going up against a Power 5… and Boise State is the prime example of that over the years.
Baylor allowed 200 rushing yards or more eight times in the last ten games, and now has to slow down stud Jeremy McNichols. Good luck. On the flip side, missing running back Shock Linwood will hurt, especially with a freshman quarterback, Zach Smith, in there for Baylor getting just the 4th start of his career.
Time to get on to the Matt Rhule era in Waco.
The Pick: Boise State -7
Russell Athletic Bowl: #16 West Virginia vs. Miami
This is another good match up and storyline, with a couple of former Big East foes meeting in Florida. Motivation should not be a factor for either of these teams. Miami followed up a 4-game losing streak with a 4-game winning streak, while the Mountaineers are coming off a 10-win regular season.
The key to this game will be the Mountaineers offensive line against Miami’s young, but talented front seven, that ranked third in the ACC with 99 tackles for loss. Meantime, Miami goes up against WVU’s unusual 3-3-5 defense, led by star quarterback Brad Kaaya. But, Miami doesn’t have depth at wide reciever. Plus, the Mountaineers are led by NFL prospect Rasul Douglas in the secondary and were the most pass efficient defense in the Big 12.
The difference will be WVU’s health in the backfield with Justin Crawford, Rushel Shell and Kennedy McKoy that will wear out Miami’s defense and keep Kaaya off the field.
The Pick: West Virginia +3
Texas Bowl: Kansas State vs. Texas A&M
It’s an old Big 12 match up, and coincidentally, the Big 12 team is the one bringing in the powerful defense, while the SEC team has the high-octane offense.
The match up to watch is A&M defensive lineman Myles Garrett, a likely top NFL Draft pick, against an always solid Kansas State offensive line.
A&M did their usual, get off to a hot 6-0 start, before fading to a 2-4 finish down the stretch. Both quarterbacks, Jesse Ertz and Trevor Knight, can run the ball. But, A&M can focus more on the K-State running game, since the Wildcats are not a great passing team. By comparison, A&M can succeed through the air or on the ground.
This is a tricky game to call since the Aggies are the more talented team, but the Wildcats are the better coached team and Bill Snyder has had weeks to prepare for the game.
The Vegas odds aren’t helping much, as 53% of the money is going in on K-State, but the line has grown half a point in favor of A&M, leading me to believe the wiseguys are leaning towards A&M and a desperate Kevin Sumlin, who can suppress some of the offseason chatter about his job with a win. As good as Kansas State has been, they beat up on many of the mediocre teams in the Big 12, while A&M had the tougher schedule.
The Pick: Texas A&M -3
Alamo Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. Colorado
The two former Big 12 foes meet in what will be two teams playing stylistically different games. Oklahoma State brings the offense, while Colorado brings the defense.
The strength of CU is the secondary, but they have rarely seen a 1-2 punch like they’ll get with Mason Rudolph and James Washington, who both announced their plans to return to Stillwater next season. Also, where Colorado’s defense has struggled is against the run. If Oklahoma State can get the running game going with Justice Hill and Chris Carson (which has not been its strength), then that will really open things up on the outside.
Also, it’s important to note that Colorado’s defensive mind Jim Leavitt left the program earlier this month for the defensive coordinator’s job at Oregon. How does that affect this game?
Meantime, few teams are better than Oklahoma State, who is +10 in the turnover department. Colorado won’t get any cheapies against the Cowboys.
Plus, Oklahoma State is looking to erase memories from last season’s 48-20 loss to Ole Miss in the Sugar Bowl. Meantime, Colorado may feel like this season is already a victory as they reach their first bowl game since 2007. I’ll roll with the Pokes.
The Pick: Oklahoma State +3
The rest of our Big 12 Bowl picks will be rolled out on the day the team plays.