Independence Bowl: Texas Tech vs. California
Saturday, December 16th 8:15 PM CT, ESPN
Texas Tech (6-6) kicks off the Big 12 bowl season in just over a week’s time as they travel to Shreveport, Louisiana to take on California (6-6). The Red Raiders had a fairly disappointing season, after many had selected them to be a sleeper pick for the Big 12 title. However, the fact that Tech is in a bowl game at all is a testament to the team, as they had to win three of their last four to even qualify. Their last game, however, was an absolute pounding from Texas, as Tech lost 57-7. Cal, similarly, got hot late to make it to a bowl game. They had to win all of their last three games and they did just that, triumphing over Washington State, Stanford, and UCLA. That UCLA victory in particular was a huge, lopsided win for Cal as they came out on top, 33-7. Tech is a three point favorite in this one, but I like Cal to keep up the momentum and secure a close win here.
Gasparilla Bowl: UCF vs. Georgia Tech
Friday, December 22nd 5:30 PM CT, ESPN
UCF (6-6) was fighting and clawing for a bowl spot, winning three of their last four games including their final game against Houston to secure this spot. They now travel just a little bit west to take on Georgia Tech (6-6) in Tampa, Florida. For Georgia Tech’s part, they were thankfully already bowl eligible when they took on and ultimately lost to Georgia. However, the Yellow Jackets put up quite the fight against the Bulldogs, only losing 31-23. Somewhat surprisingly given their recent offensive history, Georgia Tech’s quarterback Haynes King put up much better numbers than UCF’s John Rhys Plumlee, with King putting together 26 touchdowns to 15 interceptions on 2755 passing yards. Given the premium that quarterback quality and stability will have in this bowl season, I like Georgia Tech to win, despite UCF being favored by 4.5.
33-28 Georgia Tech
Guaranteed Rate Bowl: Kansas vs. UNLV
Tuesday, December 26th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN
Another year and another impressive season for Jayhawks head coach Lance Leipold. Kansas (8-4) once again posted a winning record and is heading to Phoenix, Arizona to take on a feisty UNLV (9-4). The Rebels had put together quite the impressive season, before losing their last two games to San Jose State and Boise State. Kansas had its own late season woes, losing two of their last three. However, the Jayhawks got back on track in their last game as they won 49-16 against Cincinnati. Kansas is favored by a whopping twelve points in this one, which seems a bit high. But I do have the Jayhawks winning.
Duke’s Mayo Bowl: West Virginia vs. North Carolina
Wednesday, December 27th 4:30 PM CT, ESPN
After many had picked the Mountaineers to be near the bottom of the Big 12 this year with head coach Neal Brown sitting on the hot seat, West Virginia (8-4) put together a very nice season that has saved Brown’s job, at least for now. A big part of that record came on WVU’s 4-1 record in their last five games, with their only loss in that stretch coming at Oklahoma. The Mountaineers now head to Charlotte, North Carolina to take on North Carolina (8-4). The Tar Heels, after starting 6-0, had some major disappointment down the back stretch, only winning two of their final six games. So momentum is definitely on the side of West Virginia in this one. Even though North Carolina is playing close to a home game, I like WVU to cover the 3.5 points they’re favored by.
34-27 West Virginia
Texas Bowl: #20 Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
Wednesday, December 27th 8:00 PM CT, ESPN
#20 Oklahoma State (9-4) looks to rebound after a bit of a dismantling in the Big 12 championship at the hands of Texas. The Cowboys ultimately lost that game, 49-21. OSU has been an extremely hard team to read this year: They did put together a nice record, but they also suffered blowout losses to South Alabama and UCF. So this game in Houston, Texas really depends on which OSU team shows up. For Texas A&M (7-5), the Aggies are rounding out a highly disappointing season that saw the firing of head coach Jimbo Fisher. With new head coach Mike Elko coming in from Duke, this game will not have much impact for the A&M program one way or the other, but players could certainly view it as an important initial proving ground when trying to distinguish themselves for their new head coach. And so while A&M’s record is certainly nothing to be impressed by, there is enough talent on that team that, if they are motivated, they can certainly be dangerous. I like the Aggies to cover the 3.5 points they’re favored by.
38-31 Texas A&M
Pop-Tarts Bowl: #25 Kansas State vs. #18 NC State
Thursday, December 28th 4:45 PM CT, ESPN
#25 Kansas State (8-4) was right in the thick of the Big 12 title race before losing in an entirely bizarre fashion to Iowa State in “Snowmageddon.” Now, the Wildcats need to regroup (and reconfigure their defense to stop the big plays Iowa State was able to hit). KState heads to Orlando, Florida to take on #18 NC State (9-3). The Wolfpack pulled together a highly impressive back end of their season, winning their last five games in a row almost entirely by double digits (their win over Virginia Tech was the only one that dipped under that mark as a seven point victory). The question for Kansas State will be quarterback play, as QB Will Howard entered the transfer portal. Given that and NC State’s mass of momentum, I like the Wolpack to win, despite Kansas State being favored by 4.5 points.
23-20 NC State
Alamo Bowl: #12 Oklahoma vs. #14 Arizona
Thursday, December 28th 8:15 PM CT, ESPN
#12 Oklahoma (10-2) heads to San Antonio. Texas as they make their way out of the Big 12. They will take on incoming Big 12 member #14 Arizona (9-3). Other than back-to-back losses to Kansas and Oklahoma State, the Sooners put together a pretty nice season, winning their last three games in a row. Arizona was certainly a pleasant surprise out of the Pac-12 this year, winning their last six games in a row. That included blowouts of Utah and rival Arizona State in their final two games. Given Oklahoma is also facing quarterback transfer woes with the loss of Dillon Gabriel, I’ve got Arizona winning (but maybe not quite covering) the three points they’re favored by in what should be an exciting bowl game.
Liberty Bowl: Iowa State vs. Memphis
Friday, December 29th 2:30 PM CT, ESPN
Iowa State (7-5) returns to Memphis, Tennessee to take on Memphis (9-3) once again in the Liberty Bowl. The Cyclones played this exact bowl against this exact opponent back in 2017, winning that meeting 21-20. This bowl seems a bit unfair given that Memphis is literally playing in their home stadium. But alas, the Cyclones will need to bring their A game as Memphis has been a strong team in the American this year. The Tigers won five of their last six games and hung tight in all three of their losses to Missouri, Tulane, and SMU. Iowa State had a mixed bag down the stretch, winning two of their last four, including a big-play laced win at Kansas State to close out the regular season. While Memphis has an impressive record, the quality of their wins leaves something to be desired. I have Iowa State winning and covering the 8.5 points they’re favored by.
44-30 Iowa State
Sugar Bowl: #3 Texas vs. #2 Washington
Monday, January 1st 7:45 PM CT, ESPN
#3 Texas (12-1) heads to the College Football Playoff Semifinal in New Orleans, Louisiana as they make their exit from the Big 12. They take on #2 Washington (13-0). Texas has been dominate in the trenches all year, pushing teams around with their impressive defensive line. Washington has had a ton of close calls down the stretch, winning all of their last nine games by 10 or less points. However, the fact that Washington came out of all of that with a perfect record points to how battle-tested and gritty the Huskies are. Still, in this game, it will be a question of if Washington does keep it close. If this game ends up tight in the fourth quarter, I certainly like Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr’s ability to find ways to win. But if Texas opens up strong and builds some distance, I don’t see Washington being able to come back nearly as convincingly. Texas is currently a four point favorite, which I have them covering as they win by around 10.
Projected Big 12 Bowl Record: 4-5