Ending the postseason with a losing record is another. That could very well be the case for the Big 12 when all is said and done.
The Big 12's official bowl lineup was announced Sunday night. The games are as follows, courtesy of the Big 12's website:
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28)
Kansas State vs. Michigan
Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30)
Texas vs. Oregon
Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30)
Texas Tech vs. Arizona State
Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1)
Baylor vs. UCF
Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2)
Oklahoma vs. Alabama
Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3)
Oklahoma State vs. Missouri
Early VegasInsider.com lines have four Big 12 teams listed as underdogs: Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. Three of those teams—the Longhorns, Red Raiders and Sooners—are double-digit underdogs.
Lines are chosen to maximize bets, but it's clear Big 12 teams will be fighting a perception issue before a snap is taken in the postseason.
There is some legitimacy to that perception, too. Take the top of the conference, where even the best teams had cringe-worthy moments. Baylor, the Big 12 champion, got housed by Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have two odd losses to West Virginia and Oklahoma, and the Sooners got beat up by Texas and Baylor.
The drop-off beyond those three is generally large. Kansas State is the only team besides Oklahoma State that has been on a roll lately, having won five out of its last six games. Michigan, who will face K-State, has lost four out of its last six games. That says something about the direction each team is headed.
Speaking of streaks, Texas Tech is on the tail end of one too, but the wrong kind. The Red Raiders have lost their last five after starting the season 7-0. Arizona State had won seven in a row before getting clobbered (again) by Stanford in the Pac-12 title.
This game could come down to health. Texas Tech hasn't been good at stopping the run lately, due in part because of injuries, but ASU running back Marion Grice has been nursing a leg injury of his own.
There's the potential for the Holiday Bowl to be a shootout. It could also be a dud.
Another shootout is possible in the desert. Baylor will be motivated to play a quietly good UCF team in the Fiesta Bowl, since this will be the first time the Bears have made the BCS. The Knights could make it interesting, but Baylor has the firepower (even with the injuries to receiver Tevin Reese and lineman Spencer Drango) to outscore them.
Lose to UCF, though, and prepare to be mocked to no end.
Where motivation could be a factor is Alabama's Sugar Bowl appearance against Oklahoma. The Tide have been on both sides of the spectrum: the 2009 Sugar Bowl loss to Utah and the 2011 Capital One blowout over Michigan State. The Sooners should hope they get the former.
If he's healthy, Trevor Knight should start since Oklahoma's offense has found an identity with him. Knight received a ridiculous comparison to Johnny Manziel before Week 1 because he played the role of the Heisman Trophy winner as a scout quarterback during last year's Cotton Bowl practices.
For clarity purposes: Knight is definitely not Manziel. Unless Alabama mails it in, it's hard to see the Sooners coming away with this one.
The same goes for Texas. The 'Horns appear doomed for a matchup nightmare against Oregon—unless the Ducks show up even less thrilled about San Antonio as they apparently were about the Rose Bowl. Still, all the storylines about motivation and/or Texas head coach Mack Brown could be tossed into the River Walk if the 'Horns can't keep up with the Ducks' tempo.
Last, but certainly not least, is the Cotton Bowl between Oklahoma State and former conference member Missouri. The Tigers are a slight 1.5-point favorite, and this has the looks of the best matchup of all the bowl games for the Big 12.
Mizzou has a top-20 offense with big wide receivers. Oklahoma State has the best defense in the Big 12 with outstanding defensive backs. It's a great matchup, one that the Pokes have a definite shot of winning.
A .500 bowl record feels likely, and some upsets would be needed for the Big 12 to finish with a winning bowl record. In short, it could be an ugly postseason if games play out as planned.
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