With the welcome relief of a bye week slowing things down, now’s as good a time as any to look at how the Texas Bowl is shaping up. The Mids are now 8-3, and officially accepted the invitation following the Notre Dame win last week. Their opponent will come from the Big 12 as long as the conference has enough bowl-eligible teams. Last year we spent half of the run-up to the EagleBank Bowl looking at the ACC standings and praying to avoid a rematch with Wake Forest. Thankfully, there’s no such problem this year (yet).
Here’s the Big 12 Bowl lineup, assuming only the champ makes the BCS:
- BCS (Fiesta)
It’s possible for more than one team to make the BCS if Texas loses the Big 12 championship game, but still gets selected for a BCS at-large bid. In that case, the Texas Bowl would have the #9 selection from the conference, and we might have to start worrying about having enough teams eligible. If the conference doesn’t have a team available, then Navy’s opponent will be an at-large selection from who knows where.
Here’s how things look in the Big 12 right now:
Bowl eligible: Texas (10-0), Oklahoma State (8-2), Nebraska (7-3), Oklahoma (6-4), Texas Tech (6-4), Iowa State (6-5), Missouri (6-4)
Still alive: Kansas State (6-5), Kansas (5-5), Texas A&M (5-5), Baylor (4-6)
LOL no: Colorado (3-7)
Seven teams are bowl eligible, with four still kicking. None of the four has an easy go of things to finish up the season, so there are no guarantees to get eight eligible teams, let alone nine. Kansas State has 6 wins, but still isn’t bowl-eligible because two of those wins came against I-AA opponents. They play Nebraska next week. Win, and they get a spot in the Big 12 championship game and a chance to play for the Fiesta Bowl. Lose, and they don’t go to any bowl game. Talk about feast or famine… Anyway, the only team I wouldn’t want to play is Texas Tech, since that would be a rematch of the 2003 Houston Bowl. From a football perspective, anyone else in the conference would make a very appealing bowl matchup for the Mids. For obvious reasons, Texas, Oklahoma State, and Nebraska aren’t going to be trickling down to the #8 selection. The best-case scenario for Navy would be a team that would bring a lot of fans to the game, creating a better atmosphere for the game and helping the bowl committee financially. That means Oklahoma or Texas A&M.
A few things need to happen in order for either of those teams to make their way down to the Texas Bowl. They would most likely have to finish 6-6; the bowls that pick ahead of the Texas Bowl will want OU and A&M too, but they won’t be able to select a 6-6 team if a team with a winning record is still available. That also means that a few other schools need a win in the next couple of weeks to guarantee a winning season. So here’s your Birddog Big 12 Texas Bowl Rooting Guide to give you something to follow during Navy’s week off.
1) Oklahoma at Texas Tech: An Oklahoma win gives them a winning record for the season and likely eliminates them from Texas Bowl contention. Same with the Red Raiders, so root for Texas Tech.
2) Iowa State at Missouri: This is the Cyclones’ last game of the season, while Mizzou still has a game against Kansas next week. Root for Iowa State to get a winning record, making it less likely that they will fall to the Texas Bowl.
3) Baylor at Texas A&M: Call in whatever karmic favors you have to pull for Texas A&M.
4) Kansas State at Nebraska: Not that it’s going to happen, but the more bowl-eligible Big 12 teams, the better. Cheer for Kansas State.
5) Kansas at Texas: Don’t bother hoping for the impossible. Texas.
If by some miracle all of this comes to pass, that will leave us with 6 teams with a guaranteed winning record: Texas, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Texas Tech, Iowa State, and Kansas State. Oklahoma would be 6-5 with a game at home against Oklahoma State left to play. Mizzou would be 6-5 with 5-6 Kansas next on the schedule. Texas A&M would be 6-5, with their season finale against Texas remaining. If Texas wins the conference, that would leave at least 9 teams for the 8 bowl games to pick from. A Missouri win over Kansas would give them a winning record as well, leaving the Independence Bowl and Texas Bowl to pick from OU and A&M, assuming each loses its last game.
Confused yet? That’s the best-case scenario. I think it’s more likely that Kansas, Missouri, or Iowa State will end up playing Navy. Any of those would make for a great game, but I’m not sure if they’d make for a great crowd. Here’s hoping I’m wrong. Kansas and Missouri both drew well in their bowl games last year, after all. I’m just not as sure they’ll turn out for a game against Navy the way a more local team would.