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HCS Roundtable: What is Your Favorite Matchup of the 2023 Big 12 Bowl Season?

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Baylor

After one of the most memorable conference races in recent memory, the Texas Longhorns clinched their first Big 12 Championship since 2009 and also their first College Football Playoff berth in school history.

The Longhorns (12-1) are set to face No. 2 Washington (13-0) in the Allstate Sugar Bowl, with a spot in the National Championship on the line.

While it is the biggest matchup, Texas-Washington might not be everyone’s favorite bowl matchup of the Big 12 bowl season. So, in today’s HCS Roundtable, we ask the Heartland College Sports staff:

What is your favorite matchup of the 2023 Big 12 Bowl season, excluding the obvious answer of Texas and Washington in the College Football Playoff?

 

Pete Mundo

Pop-Tarts Bowl: 25 Kansas State (8-4) vs. 18 NC State (9-3)

It’s a Top 25 matchup and it involves the program that has had the most drama-filled week in the Big 12: Kansas State. The Avery Johnson era will officially kick off with this game as we look to the future, while also getting a look at how the offense might be different after Collin Klein took the offensive coordinator position at Texas A&M. Plus, I like the late afternoon slots for bowl games between Christmas and New Year’s. The late games are too late, in my humble opinion, as someone with two toddlers, but that 4:45 pm CST slot is perfectly suited to take you well into the early evening during a week when most people are off from work and looking for a fun way to pass the time with a couple of cold ones. Sign me up!

 

Bryan Clinton

Alamo Bowl: 12 Oklahoma (10-2) vs. 14 Arizona (9-3)

This game isn’t a New Year’s Six Bowl, but it’s the highest-ranked vs. ranked. matchup outside of those six games and it looks like it’s going to be one hell of a football game. Oklahoma salvaged its season after dropping back-to-back games against Kansas and Oklahoma State, getting to 10-2 on the year. Meanwhile, Arizona finished as the hottest team in the country, winning each of their last six games, most of which were fairly lopsided affairs. At 9-3, the Wildcats have a chance to get to 10 wins, while OU appears to finally be getting what its fans have been looking ahead to since 2022: The Jackson Arnold era. Dillon Gabriel is likely headed to Oregon, which means the five-star freshman will get his first collegiate start. There are a lot of storylines in this one, and the game itself should hold true to the high-scoring affairs we’ve seen in past Alamo Bowls.

 

Matthew Postins

Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Kansas (8-4) vs. UNLV (9-4)

This game just looks fun on paper. Kansas has become a fun team to watch over the past two seasons under coach Lance Leipold. But losing his offensive coordinator right before the bowl game adds a degree of difficulty here. UNLV is a pesky Mountain West team that likes to score points and plays some exciting football. Plus, those mid-tier Arizona bowl games are sort of like the Holiday Bowl back in the day — they never seem to disappoint.

Joe Tillery

Duke’s Mayo Bowl: West Virginia (8-4) vs. North Carolina (8-4)

I’ll keep it short and sweet. The winner of this game takes a mayo bath. I rest my case.

While there are some awesome options for winning teams in bowl games like Kansas State having an opportunity to eat a giant Pop-Tart in the Pop-Tarts Bowl, the matchup between WVU and UNC is really interesting to me. Neal Brown’s squad earning nine wins after entering the season firmly in the hot seat is nothing short of incredible. North Carolina has a solid team and should provide a tough task for the Mountaineers. Give me the Mayo Bowl as the most interesting matchup.

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