Picks, Predictions and Prognosis for Every Big 12 Bowl Game
Bowl season has begun, which means it's time for one more round of predictions.
The Big 12 has a tough slate of games. VegasInsider.com lists four Big 12 teams as underdogs, three by double digits.
After a so-so regular season, nothing would make for a better Christmas gift than posting a winning record in the postseason. Can the Big 12 get it done? Here are picks for all six bowl games, from the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl to the Fiesta Bowl.
(All rankings reflect final BCS standings.)
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl: Kansas State vs. Michigan
Saturday, Dec. 28, 10:15 p.m. ET
Kansas State and Michigan are 7-5 heading into the Buffalo Wilds Wings Bowl, but the teams couldn't be more different. K-State was one of the hottest teams in the Big 12 in the second half of the season, while Michigan lost five of its last seven games.
The Wildcats get the edge in the trenches. They're a run-first team that is averaging 207 yards on the ground in their past five wins. Michigan has been barely able to net positive yards in the run game at times.
If K-State can run the ball and get enough big plays from wide receiver Tyler Lockett, who may be playing his final game for the 'Cats, it should get its first postseason win since the 2002 Holiday Bowl.
Prediction: Kansas State 30, Michigan 21
Alamo Bowl: Texas vs. No. 10 Oregon
Monday, Dec. 30, 6:45 p.m. ET
Mack Brown's last game as Texas' head coach comes against one of the most potent offenses in college football.
Brown will be the storyline, but who wins the Alamo Bowl will come down to whether the Longhorns can handle the Oregon Ducks' tempo and team speed. Texas has done a better job of playing disciplined on defense under new defensive coordinator Greg Robinson, but Oregon will be a tough test.
Big 12 Defensive Player of the Year Jackson Jeffcoat must have a big game. But the defense is also going to need help from the offense. Quarterback Case McCoy can't keep turning the ball over—he has 11 touchdowns and 11 interceptions on the season—and has to sustain drives. Running the ball with Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron will be Texas' best bet to keep pace.
The Longhorns will be motivated. Will the Ducks? If the answer is yes, then it could be a long night for Texas.
Prediction: Oregon 35, Texas 20
Holiday Bowl: Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Arizona State
Monday, Dec. 30, 10:15 p.m. ET
Texas Tech is in jeopardy of losing six straight games after starting the season 7-0. Beating a ranked opponent in the Arizona State Sun Devils, who were one win away from playing for the Rose Bowl, would be a nice way to stop the bleeding.
For the Red Raiders, that starts with stopping the run. Sun Devils running back Marion Grice has been nursing a lower leg injury, and frankly, Texas Tech needs all the help it can get.
Even though quarterback Baker Mayfield is transferring, Texas Tech will still have its best offensive weapon: tight end Jace Amaro. As long as he and receiver Eric Ward get plenty of touches, the Red Raiders should be able to put up some points. The question will be whether the defense can get enough stops and/or force turnovers.
The Sun Devils struggled mightily against Stanford, a physical and downhill running team. That's not Texas Tech. Arizona State will get it done in San Diego.
Prediction: Arizona State 45, Texas Tech 35
Fiesta Bowl: No. 15 UCF vs. No. 6 Baylor
Wednesday, Jan. 1, 8:30 p.m. ET
It's the Baylor Bears vs. Blake Bortles in the desert.
Baylor may be returning more than 5,000 unsold Fiesta Bowl tickets, but as long as the football team shows up, it shouldn't matter. The Bears offense will get wide receiver Tevin Reese back after a wrist injury knocked him out for the final month of the season. That should help the vertical passing game, which took a hit in Reese's absence.
Baylor's defense has statistically been stout, but it got torched a few times over the final month. Bortles, UCF's veteran quarterback, is getting some NFL buzz, and the Knights have some big, physical receivers.
There should be plenty of points, so this game should come down to which defense can make a few more plays than the other. Baylor has been excellent at forcing turnovers, so that should be the difference.
Prediction: Baylor 48, UCF 38
Sugar Bowl: No. 11 Oklahoma vs. No. 3 Alabama
Thursday, Jan. 2, 8:30 p.m. ET
Oklahoma has a month to hear just how much it doesn't deserve to be in the Sugar Bowl.
Then again, Alabama coach Nick Saban has a month to prepare for Oklahoma.
The Sooners have enough talent and speed at the skill positions to compete with just about anyone, but what they don't have is a stingy defense against power-running teams. Lo and behold, Alabama likes to run the ball up the middle.
Oklahoma could actually make this game interesting, though it may depend on who starts at quarterback. If it's redshirt freshman Trevor Knight, he could give the Sooners the extra mobility that the Tide have struggled against recently. Or, Bob Stoops could use a combination of Knight and redshirt junior Blake Bell.
Still, Alabama has too much power and probably a bad attitude after losing the Iron Bowl the way it did.
Prediction: Alabama 30, Oklahoma 17
Cotton Bowl: No. 13 Oklahoma State vs. No. 8 Missouri
Friday, Jan. 3, 7:30 p.m. ET
It's an old Big 12 matchup at Jerry World, aka AT&T Stadium.
Both Oklahoma State and Missouri are coming off bitter losses to end the year, but this may as well be a matchup between two Top-10 teams. The Cowboys, when they're clicking on offense, can beat almost anyone.
The Pokes should be salivating at the 545 yards rushing Auburn put up against Mizzou in the SEC Championship Game. Oklahoma State doesn't have a running back like Auburn's Tre Mason, but head coach Mike Gundy will probably see how much success he can have running the ball.
Not to mention, Oklahoma State's offense operates so much better when running back Desmond Roland and quarterback Clint Chelf are running the ball well.
Another battle to watch will be Missouri's big wide receivers against Oklahoma State's secondary. Cornerback Justin Gilbert was a Thorpe Award finalist and will need to have a big game.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 31, Missouri 28