The 2023 season is nearly upon us and with just over two weeks left until Week 1, it’s prime time for season projections.
Today, we are talking Big 12 bowl projections and who we see Big 12 teams facing in the postseason. There’s not much of a science to this, but we’ve done our best to accurately portray how the season will go, and thus, where each team will end up. Not only did we project what bowl these Big 12 teams will end up in, but we also predicted the entire Big 12 season to give you each team’s record.
It is worth noting that the Big 12 bowl picture is a bit of a mess right now, as the conference’s expansion to 14 teams in 2023 puts their affiliations in flux with less bowls than potential bowl-eligible teams.
Here’s a reminder of the Big 12 Bowl Tie-Ins for 2023:
1. College Football Playoff Semifinal: If Selected
Note: the Allstate Sugar Bowl is a Semifinal Game for the 2023-24 bowl season.
2. Valero Alamo Bowl vs Pac-12
3. Pop-Tarts Bowl vs ACC
4. TaxAct Texas Bowl vs SEC
5. AutoZone Liberty Bowl vs SEC
6. Guaranteed Rate Bowl vs Big Ten
7. Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl vs American/C-USA
8. SERVPRO First Responder Bowl* (Flex Pick)
9. Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl vs Pac-12
College Football Playoff Semifinal (Jan. 1)
We project no Big 12 teams to make the College Football Playoff in 2023, with each team in the conference having at least two losses.
Vrbo Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1)
Texas (10-3) vs. UTSA (12-1)
As the Big 12 Champion, Texas is guaranteed a spot in a New Year’s Six bowl if it doesn’t get selected to the College Football Playoff, which it doesn’t. Since the Sugar Bowl is a CFP Semifinal this season, Texas lands in the Fiesta Bowl, where it will face UTSA, the highest-ranked Group of Five team at the end of the 2023 season. These two teams met in 2022, with the Longhorns coming out on top, 41-20.
Goodyear Cotton Bowl (Jan. 1)
Oklahoma (10-2) vs. USC (11-2)
After tying for first place in the Big 12, but being left out of the Big 12 Championship due to a tie-breaker vs. Texas, Oklahoma gets a lucky draw, thanks to its brand and opponent options. Television executives can’t help but see the dollar signs associated with an Oklahoma vs. USC matchup, and pits the Sooners against the Pac-12 Champion, USC, in Jerry’s World. Talk about storylines. This one comes complete with a pre-game cage match between Brent Venables and Lincoln Riley, too.
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 28)
Kansas State (10-3) vs. Utah (9-3)
Kansas State lands in the Valero Alamo Bowl after finishing as the Big 12 runner up with a loss to Texas in the Big 12 Championship Game. There, they face an incredibly intriguing opponent in Kyle Whittingham and the Utah Utes. After finishing third in an incredibly competitive Pac-12 in 2023, these two styles of football will culminate in a hard-nosed, old-fashioned football game that gives us a peak at what two of the Big 12’s best brands going forward might look like.
Pop-Tarts Bowl (Dec. 28)
Texas Tech (9-3) vs. North Carolina (9-3)
After finishing tied for first in the Big 12 regular season, Texas Tech lands in the
Cheez-It Pop-Tarts Bowl, where it will face the third-place team from the ACC, North Carolina. Now, if I were to guess, the Red Raiders likely wouldn’t see Drake Maye in this contest (which is a shame), giving them a fantastic opportunity to end the year with 10 wins.
TaxAct Texas Bowl (Dec. 27)
TCU (9-3) vs. Texas A&M (8-4)
Despite going 6-3 in Big 12 play, TCU finishes the season in fifth place and lands in the Texas Bowl against another team from the Lone Star State, Texas A&M. These teams last met in 2001 in the Galleryfurniture.com Bowl (Yes, I’m serious), but have played a total of 92 times, with Texas A&M leading the series, 56-29-7. In fact, the Aggies have won each of the last 24 meetings in this series.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Dec. 29)
Baylor (8-4) vs. Kentucky (8-4)
Baylor improves from last year’s 6-6 finish to the regular season and lands in the Liberty Bowl against Mark Stoops and the Kentucky Wildcats. In an interesting coaching battle between Stoops and Dave Aranda, the Bears bring an SEC style of play to this game with a strong run game and disciplined defense. Bring your lunch pail for this one.
Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Dec. 26)
Oklahoma State (8-4) vs. Minnesota (6-6)
Mike Gundy and the Oklahoma State Cowboys keep the bowl streak alive and actually improve on their finish from last season despite all the roster losses, because that’s just how Gundy done things over the years. They draw P.J. Fleck and the Minnesota Golden Gophers out of the Big Ten, who play an absolutely brutal schedule in 2023, with North Carolina, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, and Iowa all on the slate.
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl (Dec. 23)
UCF (7-5) vs. Navy (6-6)
UCF is the first newcomer to make it into our bowl projections for Year 1 in the Big 12, and we’ve got them headed to Fort Worth for the Armed Forces Bowl, where they’ll face the Navy Midshipmen. These two shared the AAC from 2015-2022, with a 2-2 series record between them. Who will take the all-time series edge? We like the Knights, of course.
SERVPRO First Responder Bowl
Kansas (7-5) vs. Missouri (6-6)
Can we get some Border War in the postseason? While it won’t be as monumental as their meeting in 2007, when No. 3 Missouri beat No. 2 Kansas 36-28 in front of a packed house at Arrowhead, this will be the first time the Jayhawks and Tigers have met on the football field since 2011. Another Jalon Daniels-led Kansas vs. the SEC bowl game? Sign me up.
Radiance Technologies Independence Bowl (Dec. 16)
BYU (6-6) vs. Arizona (6-6)
How about a future Big 12 matchup between a former Independent and Pac-12 schools? In what could become a regional rivalry of sorts, BYU lands in the Independence Bowl after going 6-6 in their first season in the 12. There, they’ll face Arizona, who gets bowl eligible in Jedd Fisch’s third year at the helm. Instead of Shreveport, why don’t we have these guys play in Provo or Tuscon?