Bowl Projections 2012: Predicting Bowl Games for Big 12 Conference
The Big 12 conference could send as many as nine teams to bowl games in 2012. That's a positive step for a group that lost Texas A&M, Colorado, Nebraska and Missouri to new conferences in the past two seasons.
Leading the way is unbeaten BCS No. 2 Kansas State, fresh off a 38-20 win over Oklahoma State. QB Collin Klein would leave the second half of that game with a head injury, but the Wildcats were still able to hold on.
Oklahoma, Texas, TCU and Texas Tech round out the best of the rest. Each are bowl eligible for 2012, but nipping at the heels of those five is West Virginia, Iowa State and Baylor, all looking to put together a string of wins against the odds.
If Kansas State stays unbeaten, there's a good chance the Big 12 will send two schools to BCS bowl games. If not, it would muddy the waters for the rest of the conference and severely dampen OU's chances for that second bid.
Here's a projected look at where every bowl-eligible team will end up in December. If a team didn't make the list, it's because they don't figure into the projections after the end of the season.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl: Kansas State
It looks like the late-season schedule and lack of a conference championship game is going to doom the Wildcats. Although they are poised to finish the season undefeated, Oregon has at least three games remaining against conference foes and the Pac-12 championship in that mix.
Kansas State doesn't. Plain and simple, the Wildcats are going to be the final victim of the current BCS system, along with Notre Dame. Still a prize to get to the Fiesta Bowl, they'll be a tough out for whoever matches up on the other sideline.
Sugar Bowl: Oklahoma
The Sooners run to the BCS is dependent on Kansas State going undefeated and doing the same the rest of the way. I think they'll achieve both.
If that's the case, a matchup in New Orleans fits the bill for both the Oklahoma faithful and the rest of the SEC. It would be about an equidistant trip for both schools (unless it was LSU), but the committee on the Sugar Bowl won't pass on a two-loss OU team that lost to two unbeaten schools.
Cotton Bowl: Texas
The Longhorns have the inside shot at the battle in Dallas, even if a loss to the Kansas State Wildcats is in their future. The No. 3 team in the Big 12 is the last one standing after the BCS gobbles up K-State and OU, and Mack Brown would be happy to be in the Cotton Bowl after two bad seasons the past two years.
It's looking more and more like two SEC schools will make the BCS, too, so it's likely the No. 3 team would make it right now. That could be any number of schools, including Texas A&M, who would need to beat Alabama and have help. What a storyline that would be, huh?
Alamo Bowl: Texas Tech
The Red Raiders are in good position for an in-state game as the Big 12's No. 3 team outside the BCS. To gain a spot here, they'll simply have to knock off Oklahoma State in the impending matchup between the two.
The matchup would be with the Pac-12's No. 3 school, and with Oregon and Oregon State both inching toward the BCS, it could be the USC Trojans in San Antonio.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Oklahoma State
The Cowboys hold the advantage over TCU after a head-to-head win and still have Baylor and West Virginia on their schedule to get bowl eligible. Call me crazy, but those are two very winnable games for Mike Gundy's team.
With two wins in those two games, the win total would push to seven, and seeing as TCU has three ranked teams in a row to close the season, I'll give the nod to the Cowboys.
Holliday Bowl: West Virginia
The Mountaineers are reeling right now. Losers of three straight, their once-unstoppable offense now looks like a thing of the past. Geno Smith has come down to earth, and the defense continues to be exposed.
Still, they have the tiebreaker over Baylor and games against Kansas and Iowa State await. They may be in a funk, and I think they lose to Oklahoma State this weekend, but they can win one of those two games to become bowl eligible.
Meineke Car Care Bowl: TCU
Which Big 12 team has been the biggest surprise?
The Big 12's No. 6 spot is the designation here. At 3-3, that's currently where they stand in the conference (though you must add one game to the rankings with the BCS jargon). That being the case, I think they finish in seventh and take a matchup in this Houston-based bowl.
Kansas State is in town this weekend, before a road game against Texas and back home against the Sooners. TCU could very well end up 0-3 after that brutal stretch, but they would still be eligible after already picking up six wins.
Pinstripe Bowl: Iowa State
Could it be? Paul Rhodes' team finds a way to win one game, and with it, a bowl bid. This game is in New York, so it might not be the friendliest of locations, but Rhodes and the Cyclones would be glad to travel if it means playing for four more weeks.
So, there you have it. Plenty of game action left with four weeks to play, so a lot could happen. Right now, that's the way things are looking in the Big 12. The one constant in college football is change, so look for more of it after Week 11 is completed.
Ethan Grant is a featured columnist for B/R's Breaking News Team. Check him out on Twitter @DowntownEG.
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