The Big 12 has seven of its’ 10 team in bowl games. Does that tell us that the Big 12 is a powerful football conference? Not really. Mostly it tells us that there are too many bowls, though I would put the Big 12’s football prowess right up there with any of the other conferences including the much-ballyhooed Southeastern Conference.
I think that a football team ought to have to achieve a winning season to be eligible for a bowl game. That would eliminate the 6-6 teams (hello, Oklahoma State and Texas) along with a host of others across the country. Batting .500 will get you in the Hall of Fame in baseball but it is a mark of mediocrity in football, not something to be rewarded and celebrated.
Texas , 6-6, has already played Arkansas, also 6-6. Who cares besides Mommas, Poppas, grandparents and a few others? It is a neat reincarnation game from the old Southwest Conference days gone by but watching two 6-6 teams doesn’t create much fervor, not even when the Razorback fans shout, “SOO PIGGIE!”
West Virginia and Oklahoma have also already played so let’s focus on the remaining four Big 12 teams yet to play. The Okie State Cowboys started the season with a bang, narrowly losing to defending national champion Florida State. The gunless Cowboys didn’t defeat a single ranked team as they crashed through the end of the season. Washington is 8-5 and also had a disappointing season but they finished stronger. The Huskies will send the Cowboys to a losing season, 44-20.
The Liberty Bowl is an interesting matchup between West Virginia and Texas A&M, both 7-5. Both teams had a huge win on the season and both were very inconsistent. Sometimes they played great and sometimes they played like they were lost on the playground. Anything could happen in this game. If both show up playing as poorly as they have a few times, well, it will be uglier than Elizabeth Taylor would have been on her 87th birthday! If both show up playing as good as they are capable, we might witness a shootout like the Gunfight At OK Corral! I like the Aggies of A&M in a shootout, 48-42.
Now for the really good teams, Baylor, TCU and Kansas State. 11-1 Baylor takes on “tough as nails” Michigan State. The irresistible force vs. the immovable object. Baylor’s high-powered offense vs. the Spartans (10-2) defense. This one might have been for the national championship. Certainly these two are as good as the four teams picked. This will confound the predictors because I see a relatively low-scoring struggle. In the end, Baylor’s speed will prevail. Baylor’s 27-24 win will cause catcalls of “We Are National Champions” all over west Texas!
In another playoff caliber Bowl, TCU (11-1) takes on Ole Miss (9-3). The Horned Frogs’ speed vs. the big-time defense of the Rebels in the Peach Bowl. TCU head coach Gary Patterson, the national coach of the year, is only a late-game meltdown against Baylor from being in the national championship playoffs. (By the way, it still galls me to call this four-team playoff a national championship.) Coaches will tell you that “speed kills”. If that is true, we’ve got to go with TCU, 39-33.
Whoever picked Kansas State’s opponent in the Alamo Bowl didn’t do the Wildcats any favors. Kansas State (9-3) has not fared particularly well against high-scoring, high-powered offenses in the last couple of years. While UCLA (9-3) is no Baylor, they still have an excellent quarterback, a solid running game and a defense that is really tough to throw the ball against. Kansas State will have to get back to running the football to have a shot at winning this one. Jake Waters running will probably be more important than his passing in this one. Special teams will be really important and that edge goes to Kansas State because of Tyler Lockett. This one will be entertaining and close. Cats win one for the old coach, 35-31.
If by now you haven’t worn out the remote control, take heart. There’s still the basketball season!