Now that the Big 12’s regular season is all wrapped up, it’s time to start seriously looking at where all the eligible Big 12 schools will end up travelling in late December or early January.
Of course, we still have one kind-of important game left to play, and all potential scenarios are predicated on what happens in the
stupid inaugural returning Big 12 Conference Championship Game next Saturday.
Oh, and there are eight teams available to fill seven guaranteed bowl slots. Now, the last half-dozen years are so there have been some extra slots open at non-Big 12-affiliated bowls, so all eight Big 12 teams will bowl, but someone may be sweating out the end of the Big 12 CCG.
So the big what-if is the OU-TCU game next Saturday. The Horned Frogs will be looking to flip the script in the rematch of the Veteran’s Day matchup with the Sooners. The Sooners sent the Frogs back to Ft. Worth after a 38-20 victory, and took sole command of first place in the conference.
The Sooners need a repeat performance to possibly secure a spot in the College Football Playoff. TCU would need a win and some help to get a CFP spot.
We’ll start with the easy one.
Sooners win, they’re in the playoff. They have the name, the style, and would then have the record (12-1 and they beat Ohio State once upon a time) to all-but guarantee themselves a playoff spot.
TCU, at 10-3, gets the Big 12’s slot to a New Year’s 6 bowl (since the Sugar Bowl is a playoff game this year, it could be any one of Peach, Fiesta, or Cotton bowls). They aren’t technically an auto-bid, but the Cotton Bowl would be crazy not to take the Horned Frogs. Then Oklahoma State, third place in the conference, gets the Alamo Bowl. Easy peasy. After that things get interesting.
There is a four-way tie for fourth place, so it’s up to the Camping World Bowl to start to sort the mess with the next pick. Realistically they have two options, Iowa State and K-State. West Virginia was just there last year, and they likely don’t want a repeat visitor, and the Texas schools don’t travel well outside the state (and at 6-6, both are less appealing for ratings and sponsors). K-State and ISU both travel well, both have identical records, but they may be more interested in K-State’s history of success than ISU’s recency. In this scenario, K-State wins the coin flip and heads to Orlando to face an ACC opponent.
Texas Bowl picks next. West Virginia or Iowa State could be fun, but the Texas Longhorns are available and just how could they turn that down? Longhorn fans are ready to go bowling again after a hiatus, and they’d be ready to pack NRG Stadium for a tilt against an SEC opponent.
The Liberty Bowl is fifth, and now we get to Iowa State. Liberty Bowl reps have to be drooling over the prospect of pitting former Big 12 teams together, and what better two former long-time conference mates than Iowa State and Missouri? If the Camping World Bowl picks ISU then it’s K-State here. They’d have to be crazy to go any other direction with their picks.
Picking sixth is the Cactus Bowl. They’ve just been gifted WVU and a Mountaineer fanbase that’s been begging to go anywhere but the east coast.
The Heart of Dallas Bowl picks last and they still get a Texas school. Texas Tech became bowl eligible with a win over Texas on Thanksgiving Day, and the Heart of Dallas Bowl has likely had their heart set on the Red Raiders ever since.
CFP — OU
NY6 (Cotton) — TCU
Alamo — OSU
Camping World — K-State/ISU
Texas — UT
Liberty — ISU/K-State
Cactus — WVU
Dallas — TTU
Things get messy fast
So that was easy, right? Well, now things get interesting.
TCU wins the CCG, they need some help to make the CFP. Like, a ton. They don’t have the name, or the pedigree, or a sterling record. They’d need to win huge over OU to even get a side-eye from the CFP committee. But if they get in, then everything above is still true, just swap TCU and OU.
If TCU isn’t in the CFP then they are still in a NY6 bowl (still most-likely the Cotton Bowl), but the story becomes what happens with the Sooners. They can’t make the CFP, but could still get in to a New Year’s 6 game. Since the Sugar Bowl is out, it matters who takes TCU for the auto-bid. But OU brings enough cache that they would be an easy selection for one of the several At-Large selections that would be available.
But what happens if the NY6 games pass on the Sooners? Then they get dropped on the Alamo Bowl, OSU gets sent to Orlando for the Camping World Bowl, and then things get interesting below them in the picking order.
The Texas Bowl then has to decide if it really wants to take a 6-6 Texas team over a 7-5 Iowa State or West Virginia team, or if they want to take K-State again. Texas would likely take the Mountaineers in this scenario, as they’d have a really hard time trying to explain to the Big 12 office why they took the Longhorns instead.
The Liberty Bowl is still a coin-flip between K-State and Iowa State. K-State traveled well in 2015, and the opponent would be tasty, but the Liberty Bowl reps may think that twice in three years is too close and choose the Cyclones over the Wildcats.
The Cactus Bowl now gets to choose between K-State and Texas, and that notoriety for Longhorn fans not travelling well outside the state will hurt them here. Wildcat fans won’t be super-excited for a trip to Arizona, but they’ll still show up in force.
The Heart of Dallas Bowl still gets a Texas team, and a better one than they expected. Longhorn fans may not be excited about the trip up I-35 to Dallas, but there should still be a lot of Burnt Orange.
That leaves Texas Tech waiting for a dance partner. They’ll go somewhere, but it may be a longer than expected wait for their reward.
NY6 (Cotton) — TCU
Alamo — OU
Camping World — OSU
Texas — WVU
Liberty — ISU
Cactus — K-State
Dallas — UT
Other — TTU
Realistically, the Cats are headed to one of three destinations: the Camping World Bowl, the Liberty Bowl, or the Cactus Bowl. All three would be good destinations, but Wildcat fans would really turn out for the opportunity to travel to Florida for a bowl game. All three would have good opponents, but a potential match-up with Missouri in the Liberty Bowl would be good for ticket sales and TV ratings. It would take more to get to the Cactus Bowl, but K-State fans travel well to Arizona, and a match-up against a lower-tier Pac 12 school might make for the easiest victory.
We’ll know for sure in week, but just maybe we’ll know sooner.
Where do you want to go bowling?
This poll is closed
WE’RE GOING TO DISNEY WORLD
Memphis was fun
I like cacti, okay?
Texas sure is an easy drive
Editor’s note: We used last year’s info on the New Year’s 6 bowls and the playoff in our initial post. The story has been updated to reflect that information. We apologize for any confusion.