The Big 12 bowl games get underway this week, starting with the Cheez-It Bowl on Wednesday, December 26th. We’re all anxiously awaiting the games to get underway and for a full schedule of games and information, you can check all that out here. So as we finally get to turn our attention to bowl season, here are five bold predictions (and probably wrong predictions?!) I’ll make before the games kick off.
1. WVU QB Trey Lowe Outperforms Jack Allison
With Will Grier electing to not play in the Camping World Bowl against Syracuse, the Mountaineers will play both Jack Allison, the Miami transfer, along with Trey Lowe, the freshman who was a part of the 2018 class. While Allison will probably start, I’ll predict a better game from Lowe, who is more of a dual-threat player and who will be better suited in this game than the pocket passer Allison. With star left tackle Yodny Cajuste and top receiver Gary Jennings skipping the game as well, having wheels in the pocket will be an asset. Plus, Syracuse’s run defense is mediocre, at best. The Orange allowed Western Michigan, Clemson, Pitt and Louisville all ran for 200 yards and six opponents scored multiple rushing touchdowns. I don’t know what it will mean for the 2019 quarterback race in Morgantown, but I’ll take Lowe to end up with a bigger game than Allison.
2. Iowa State locks down Mike Leach’s offense
First off, Mike Leach is a great coach, but he isn’t very good in bowl games. In fact, he’s only won one of his past five. The last three years the Washington State Cougars are 1-2 under Leach in bowl games and his team has averaged 16 points per game during that stretch. So history is against him. Now, he has to go face Jon Heacock’s defense. This is a defense that was able to slow down, if not stop, some of the most high-octane offenses in America this season. He has a formula to stop Mike Leach-style offenses and is not likely to be too surprised by anything he sees.
3. The Big 12 splits games against Georgia and Alabama
These are the two biggest games in the conference and every Big 12 fan should be rooting for both Oklahoma and Texas. The Sooners face Alabama in the CFB Playoff, while Texas gets Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Both Big 12 teams are double-digit underdogs and I predict the Big 12 will split these two games. Georgia is dealing with drama in terms of some players strongly considering a transfer, along with a hangover effect from the SEC Championship loss. Meantime, Alabama has a start QB in Tua Tagovailoa recovering from an ankle injury and a head coach in Nick Saban who has historically had some trouble with OU-style offenses. As for which one of these two teams win, I’ll hold my prediction until next week, but one of them will.
4. Hello, Spencer Sanders
Oklahoma State fans have been clamoring to get a glimpse of their top QB prospect from the 2018 Class. All year it seemed as if Mike Gundy enjoyed tweaking the fan base by specifically not playing Sanders down the stretch, even though the new red shirt rule would have allowed him to play in up to four games. But we will finally get a chance to see Sanders in the Liberty Bowl against Missouri at some point. Knowing Gundy, it’ll be on a 2nd and 2 in the second quarter. Sanders will get one snap, a QB run, and that will be the extent of it. But hey, at least we got to see him on the field during a game, right?!
5. Big 12 finishes above .500 in bowl games
The conference is only favored in one of its seven games, but I’ll predict a slightly above .500 record (4-3) record for the conference in this slate of bowl games. If Texas and OU split their games against Georgia and Alabama, respectively, then it would require three other wins. Gary Patterson is a machine in bowl games, winning three of four and five of his past seven. As I mentioned, Washington State and Mike Leach have struggled in the postseason, so find me one more win amongst Baylor, Oklahoma State, and West Virginia? Seems entirely possible … and likely.
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