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Big 12 Bowl Game Previews

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Baylor Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

We’re coming up on bowl season folks! We’re still a few weeks out from the Big 12 Bowl games, but with the bowl season officially starting Saturday here’s some quick previews of all the bowls with Big 12 teams!

Cheez-It Bowl: TCU vs. Cal

Wednesday, December 26th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN

The Cheez-It Bowl, played in Phoenix, Arizona matches up TCU (6-6) out of the Big 12 with Cal (7-5) out of the PAC 12. Odds makers have this game set as a tossup, with Cal having a slightly better defense and TCU a slightly better offense in terms of yardage. However, what that stat doesn’t show, is just how turnover prone TCU has been this year. Which is ultimately what this game will come down to, if Cal can force TCU to turn the ball over once or twice in critical situations. I think they’ll be able to do that.

24-20 Cal

Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl: Baylor vs. Vanderbilt

Thursday, December 27th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN

The Big 12’s Baylor (6-6) will take on the SEC’s Vanderbilt (6-6) in a battle of private schools in Houston, Texas for the Texas Bowl. Both Baylor and Vanderbilt were in must win situations in the last game of the season, Baylor beat Texas Tech comfortably and Vanderbilt beat Tennessee in similar fashion. Vanderbilt really doesn’t have many impressive wins to its name: They beat Tennessee, Ole Mis, Arkansas, Tennessee State, Nevada, and Middle Tennessee State to make it to 6 wins. Granted, Baylor only beat one bowl eligible team in Oklahoma State. So both of these teams are in similar spots, with excellent building seasons but greater aspirations going forward. A win in this bowl would help jump start those goals. At the time of the writing of this article, Baylor is a 3.5 point underdog. In terms of yardage, Baylor has had the better offense and defense this year. But Vanderbilt has a better defense when it comes to points allowed (Baylor still has the better scoring offense). All things considered, this ought to be an evenly matched game. Baylor will be missing star receiver Jalen Hurd, who underwent surgery to prepare for the NFL. Given the bowl’s proximity to Waco and the number of Baylor graduates in and around Houston, I expect a crowd advantage for the Bears. That might be enough to swing it in Baylor’s favor.

28-24 Baylor

Camping World Bowl: #16 West Virginia vs. #20 Syracuse

Friday, December 28th 4:15 PM CT, ESPN

#16 West Virginia (8-3) out of the Big 12 takes on #20 Syracuse (9-3) from the ACC in the Camping World Bowl. West Virginia has had a stronger offense and defense than Syracuse this year and sits as a 1.5 point favorite. Syracuse’s strongest win was against North Carolina State. West Virginia’s biggest win was at Texas. However, the key factor in this matchup will likely be that Will Grier, WVU’s star quarterback, is skipping the bowl game to prepare for the NFL. I think that tips this game in favor of Syracuse.

35-28 Syracuse

Valero Alamo Bowl: #24 Iowa State vs. #13 Washington State

Friday, December 28th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN

#24 Iowa State (8-4) of the Big 12 faces off against #13 Washington State (10-2) out of the PAC 12 in the Alamo Bowl. This season, Washington State has had a much stronger offense than Iowa State (although, the Cyclones’ offense improved markedly when Brock Purdy became the starting quarterback). Defensively, these teams are just about even. From what I’ve seen on Twitter, Iowa State is vastly outselling Washington State in tickets to this bowl game, so there will likely be a home crowd advantage for the Cyclones. Iowa State has fed off of home crowds this year, picking up a signature win against then #6 West Virginia. Washington State picked up a strong home win against Oregon, with their only losses coming to USC and Washington. Both of these teams have excellent coaches (Mike Leach at Washington State and Matt Campbell at Iowa State), so I expect a close, exciting game. Iowa State edges it out at the end.

38-35 Iowa State

Capital One Orange Bowl: #4 Oklahoma vs. #1 Alabama

Saturday, December 29th 7:00 PM CT, ESPN

This is the big one, #4 Oklahoma (12-1) takes on #1 Alabama (13-0) in the CFP semi-final. The Big 12 has yet to win a playoff game since the system was put in place. Oklahoma looks to change that against the powerhouse of the SEC, Alabama. Oklahoma has newly crowned Heisman winner Kyler Murray at the helm, while Alabama has Heisman runner-up Tua Tagovailoa. However, there are some questions if Tagovailoa will be able to start after sustaining an injury in the SEC championship. If he can’t go, Jalen Hurts will get the start. Hurts led Alabama to a dramatic, come from behind victory over Georgia in the SEC title and has plenty of starting experience. I’d argue Hurts is the best backup quarterback in the country. Oklahoma’s questionable defense will have its hands full. The real question will be if Kyler Murray can continue his offensive success against a strong Alabama defense. I think the Sooners likely get some offense going, but not enough to beat the dominate Crimson Tide.

35-24 Alabama

Autozone Liberty Bowl: Oklahoma State vs. #23 Missouri

Monday, December 31st 2:45 PM CT, ESPN

The Big 12’s Oklahoma State (6-6) takes on longtime former conference foe #23 Missouri (8-4) out of the SEC. This is one of the more lopsided matchups for the Big 12, with Missouri picked as an 8 point favorite. Oklahoma State got to 6 wins behind big wins (Texas and West Virginia) and some bad losses. Missouri had a strong season, only losing to Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, and South Carolina. They picked up a signature win at Florida. Oklahoma State has a slightly better offense, while Missouri has a significantly better defense. I’ll take Missouri to cover.

38-28 Missouri

Allstate Sugar Bowl: #15 Texas vs. #5 Georgia

Tuesday, January 1st 7:45 PM CT, ESPN

#15 Texas (9-4) of the Big 12 takes on #5 Georgia (11-2) of the SEC in the Sugar Bowl. Both of these teams lost their conference championships, with Georgia just missing the CFP. Georgia’s only two losses were to Alabama and LSU. Texas suffered losses to Oklahoma, Maryland, West Virginia, and Oklahoma State. But, they also beat Oklahoma earlier in the year. Texas has some very good wide receivers and a solid quarterback in Sam Ehlinger. However, Georgia is led by star quarterback Jake Fromm and gave Alabama just about all it could handle in the championship game. They’re good. Georgia is favored by 11 at the writing of this article. I’m not sure they cover, but I’m very confident Georgia will win.

34-24 Georgia