Oklahoma Football: Possible Bowl Matchups for the Sooners
It's official: It's Bedlam week. How insane is it that a No. 3 (Oklahoma State) vs. No. 10 (Oklahoma) matchup is actually a letdown?
This was supposed to be a game that pitted two of the top-three teams in the nation against each other—both undefeated—and the winner was supposed to play LSU for the national championship. At least, that's what many predicted would happen halfway through the season.
Unfortunately, the dreams of a possible winner-take-all matchup were dashed after Oklahoma's surprising home loss against an unranked Texas Tech team. However, after Oklahoma bounced back with big wins against Kansas State and Texas A&M, the Bedlam hype started looking good again.
Then it really turned sour. Two weekends ago, Oklahoma State went on the road as the No. 2 team in the nation and lost to an unranked Iowa State team. The next night, Oklahoma went on the road as the No. 5 team in the nation and lost to No. 22 Baylor.
So here we are with a No. 3 vs. No. 10 matchup with virtually no national championship hopes whatsoever. Oklahoma State would have to absolutely destroy Oklahoma to get voters' attention away from an LSU vs. Alabama rematch, but that doesn't mean that Bedlam has absolutely nothing riding on it anymore.
The winner will still be named the Big 12 champion and will be awarded a BCS berth in the Fiesta Bowl against an at-large opponent. The loser will be forced to play in a non-BCS bowl, such as the Cotton Bowl or the Alamo Bowl.
Here are some possible bowl game matchups for the Sooners, win or lose.
Bowl: Fiesta Bowl
Date: January 2; 8:30 p.m.; Glendale, AZ
Prediction: 30-27, Oklahoma
This is the most likely matchup for the Sooners if they were to win Bedlam. Not only would the Sooners be Big 12 champions for the eighth time under Bob Stoops, but they would also get rewarded with an automatic BCS bid to the Fiesta Bowl against an at-large opponent.
The Stanford Cardinal happens to be the most appealing at-large suitor, and because the Fiesta Bowl committee gets first dibs at selecting at-large opponents this year, an Oklahoma vs. Stanford game may be on the horizon.
The idea of pitting one of the nation's best offenses against the potential No. 1 draft pick and best quarterback in the nation in Andrew Luck might be hard to pass up.
With the way the Sooners have been playing on defense lately, it would seem like a matchup against the nation's top quarterback would be a scary thought.
However, what the Sooners have been truly bad against is the spread attack. Stanford's pro-style offense actually matches up well against Oklahoma's stout defensive front.
I'm sure Luck would make a few highlight throws in the game, but Stanford just doesn't pose as much of a threat as other teams that Oklahoma might match up against.
Bowl: Fiesta Bowl
Date: January 2; 8:30 p.m.; Glendale, AZ
Prediction: 49-42, Houston
Okay, this matchup scares me. Normally when you compare a team like Houston, who plays in the astoundingly weak Conference USA, to a team like Stanford, who plays in a mediocre Pac-12 conference, Stanford would be the bigger threat.
Not this time. The only way this matchup would work is if Oklahoma wins Bedlam, gets the automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl, and then the Fiesta Bowl committee decides to elect Houston over Stanford as the first at-large bid taken.
Oh, and Houston still has to win their conference championship game against No. 24 Southern Mississippi.
This scenario is a little more far-fetched, but I think it still deserves to be talked about. Even though Andrew Luck and his Stanford Cardinal team may be a more appealing pick, the Houston Cougars might be more interesting.
The Cougars would be coming into the game still undefeated, likely upset they aren't getting enough recognition, and wanting to prove that they should be in the national championship game instead of a team that has already played LSU and lost (on their home field, no less).
When you throw in the fact that their quarterback is Case Keenum, a guy who has already set records for passing touchdowns and career completions, nothing really bodes well for the Sooners.
Keenum would have a heyday against the Sooners secondary, and even though Houston's defense may not be enough to slow down the Sooners offense, I just have a feeling that Houston would find a way to win, possibly in overtime.
Oh god, now I'm getting Boise State flashbacks...
Bowl: Alamo Bowl
Date: December 29; 9 p.m.; San Antonio, TX
Prediction: 42-21, Oklahoma
Now that we've gone over the two possible scenarios for the Sooners if they win the Bedlam game, let's look at the possible matchups if they lose.
Not only would the Sooners not be going to a BCS bowl, they would likely not even be going to the Cotton Bowl, which pits the Big 12 No. 2 against an SEC squad. Instead, a loss would likely drop them to No. 3 in the Big 12, which would put them in the Alamo Bowl against the Pac-12 No. 2.
As it stands, that team appears to be the Washington Huskies.
Sounds complicated, right? The only way to get around the complication would be the Sooners just going ahead and winning the Bedlam game.
Unfortunately, if that doesn't happen, then the Sooners will have to rely on BCS standings to determine which bowl they play in.
Currently, Kansas State is ranked No. 11 (9-2, 6-2 Big 12) with one game left: at home against Iowa State. If both Oklahoma State and Kansas State win, this will undoubtedly put Kansas State higher in the BCS than Oklahoma, awarding the Wildcats with the Big 12 No. 2 bid to the Cotton Bowl.
So that leaves the Sooners with a trip to San Antonio to play the overly inconsistent Washington Huskies. There's little doubt that even with the problems the Sooners have shown, a blowout win against a 7-5 team from the Pac-12 isn't out of the question.
Washington's best victory this year came at home against the equally inconsistent California Golden Bears. The Huskies defense ranks No. 100 in the nation, giving up 33.3 points per game.
Now this is a good matchup for the Sooners.
Bowl: Cotton Bowl
Date: January 6; 8 p.m.; Arlington, TX
Prediction: 27-24, Georgia
The previous three scenarios are the most likely matchups for the Sooners, regardless of whether they win or lose the upcoming Bedlam match. Now we're getting into hairy, complicated waters.
In the previous slide, I mentioned that it seems highly unlikely for the Sooners to lose and remain No. 2 in the Big 12. Well, that can still happen, but some strings are going to have to be pulled.
In order to lose and still receive a bid to the Cotton Bowl against (likely) the Georgia Bulldogs, Kansas State would have to fall at home to Iowa State, and Baylor would have to not completely destroy No. 22 Texas.
With an Oklahoma and Kansas State loss and a Baylor victory, all three teams would be sitting with a 9-3 overall record with a 6-3 conference record. Then the No. 2, No. 3 and No. 4 Big 12 bowl bids would be decided by the BCS rankings.
If Oklahoma plays hard and loses a close game against OSU, they will remain ahead of both Kansas State and Baylor, and that's even though Baylor beat Oklahoma two weeks ago (sounds weird, right?).
If Oklahoma gets demolished, it becomes more likely for Baylor to jump both Oklahoma and Kansas State in the BCS, but because Baylor is eight spots lower than Oklahoma, something drastic is going to have to happen.
Okay, now that all that is cleared up, let's go ahead and award Oklahoma with the Big 12 No. 2 bid after losing to OSU. That pits the Sooners up against a Georgia Bulldogs team who is red hot. The Bulldogs have won their last 10 games after starting the year off 0-2.
Georgia still has the SEC championship game to play in this weekend against LSU, but even if they win that game, chances are that LSU and Alabama will be playing in the national championship.
That means that not only will a team who won arguably the best conference in college football be denied a chance at a national championship, they will be denied a BCS bowl altogether!
I think an Oklahoma vs. Georgia matchup would actually be pretty interesting. It would pit a great offense up against a great defense and bragging rights for conference prestige would ensue.
I have Georgia in a close, hard-fought game against the Sooners. Against a good defense like Georgia, quarterback Landry Jones will be missing his favorite target in Ryan Broyles.
And there's only so much a Belldozer can do...
California Golden Bears
Bowl: Holiday Bowl
Date: December 28; 8 p.m.; San Diego, CA
Prediction: 38-28, Oklahoma
Here comes the least likely matchup for the Sooners in the least likely bowl game...but it's still possible. Everything I said that didn't come true on the previous slide HAS to come true in order to make this game work.
That means Oklahoma would have to lose big and Baylor would have to win big. Kansas State would also need to win their game against Iowa State. In this scenario, Kansas State winds up No. 2 in the Big 12, Baylor surpasses Oklahoma for No. 3, and Oklahoma bottoms out at No. 4 and gets sent to the Holiday Bowl.
Talk about a disappointing season, right? Fourth in the Big 12? Who could have predicted that?
Here are some pros and cons about the Holiday Bowl matchup for the Sooners.
Obviously, it would just be the exclamation point on the disappointing year the Sooners have had so far. Not only would the Sooners be playing in a rather uninteresting bowl game, they would be playing against a rather uninteresting team in the California Golden Bears.
This is exactly the type of game that the Sooners would be unmotivated for, which would result in a first-half lull that sends hope to the fans of California. After a halftime speech from Bob Stoops, the Sooners would then have to choose whether to come out of halftime with any will to win.
A loss to California in the Holiday Bowl could have some major potential to switch things up. I doubt "switching things up" would go as far as firing Stoops, but after a season full of disappointment and lack of motivation, maybe that would happen.
Instead of playing in Glendale, Arlington or San Antonio, the Sooners would get the luxury of spending a week (or however long they're going to be there) in San Diego. Though nice, this luxury may actually be a con, as well. It could distract the players' focus from the potentially lackluster matchup.
Or it could be just what they need to get back on track (the 'California trio' may like a trip back home).
Even though California seems like a lackluster matchup for the previously ranked No. 1 Sooners, it might actually be a better game then the more likely scenario in San Antonio: Oklahoma vs. Washington in the Alamo Bowl.
California has been playing rather well lately and came very close to upsetting Stanford. Fans may actually be treated to a decent game.