Friday, December 14, 2012
Perusing the Big 12 bowl predictions
By David Ubben
Colleague Mark Schlabach turned in a preview of all 35 bowl games, including all nine in the Big 12. Each included a prediction, too.
You can see more from Schlabach in the full piece right here.
So how does he see the Big 12 playing out? Let's take a closer look:
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
Schlabach: "After starting 0-4 in Big 12 play, the Bears were red-hot at the end of the regular season, upsetting then-No. 1 Kansas State, Texas Tech and then-No. 23 Oklahoma State. They'd like nothing more than to take a four-game winning streak into the offseason." Pick: UCLA 42, Baylor 38
My take: Consensus is clear: Baylor's in for another shootout like last year. Don't be surprised if 80 points is too few. This game likely comes down to who's got the ball last.
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Schlabach: Texas Tech quarterback Seth Doege is still putting up Air Raid-like statistics, throwing for 3,934 yards with 38 touchdowns and 14 interceptions. He passed for 499 yards with six touchdowns in a 49-13 rout of West Virginia on Oct. 13." Pick: Texas Tech 38, Minnesota 20
My take: I really think the new excitement level surrounding Texas Tech will carry over to the field. I'll unveil my official predictions as we get closer, but I don't think motivation will be an issue anymore with a coach this team can't wait to play for.
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Schlabach: "The Mountaineers got off to a 5-0 start in their debut season in the Big 12, but then lost five in a row before finishing 7-5. They can still prove they're better than one of the Big East's best teams." Pick: Syracuse 52, West Virginia 49
My take: Schlabach's jab at the end there made me chuckle a bit. No doubt there will be plenty of points scored in this one. This may come down to how many touches they get Tavon Austin, though. If he gets 20 or more, I think I'll take WVU in New York. Fewer, I'd probably lean toward the hometown squad.
Valero Alamo Bowl
Schlabach: "The Longhorns really need to produce some momentum after another mediocre season. Pressure is starting to mount on Brown, who might need a big campaign in 2013 to quiet his growing critics." Pick: Oregon State 28, Texas 24
My take: I agree that Texas fans have underestimated the Beavers a bit, but Longhorns fans aren't real happy with the way their team finished the season. Getting "outtoughed" on your home field in a nationally prominent game will do that. Ultimately, this game comes down to the quarterbacks. If Texas gets good play out of Case McCoy or David Ash, it wins.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl
Schlabach: "If you like defense, you might love this game, which features two of the game's best defensive minds, Michigan State's Mark Dantonio and TCU's Gary Patterson. The Spartans are ranked in the top 10 in run defense, pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. TCU's defense struggled a bit this season after losing a plethora of starters." Pick: TCU 20, Michigan State 13
My take: This one's a toss-up. No doubt about that. But it'll show the biggest reason why I buy TCU as a title contender next year. As much as this league focuses on offense, you can't win a title without a defense, and if you've got one, it'll give you a shot to win big. The Frogs decidedly have a defense.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Schlabach: "Louisiana Tech, which was left out of the postseason, might be watching to see how the Cyclones fare against Conference USA champion Tulsa. The Liberty Bowl passed on the 9-3 Bulldogs to take 6-6 Iowa State, which lost five of its last seven games and finished next-to-last in the Big 12." Pick: Tulsa 31, Iowa State 24
My take: I'd see this one as an upset, but it's never easy to beat a team twice. There's been a long time between games, but Iowa State can't play average and expect to win this game. Paul Rhoads talked a lot about how the bowl win in 2009 "legitimized" the program. Doing so again might have a similar effect.
Heart of Dallas Bowl
Schlabach: "It might be a very high-scoring shootout at the Cotton Bowl. Oklahoma State has one of the country's best passing games and averaged 44.7 points. The Boilermakers averaged 34.3 points in their last three games, all victories, after quarterback Robert Marve returned from a knee injury." Pick: Oklahoma State 37, Purdue 21
My take: Oklahoma State has Big 12 title hopes of their own in 2013, but I don't think this will be very high scoring. We'll know early on if OSU is interested in being in this game. If so, they'll run away with it.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Schlabach: "The Wildcats couldn't get 73-year-old coach Bill Snyder a national championship, but they can at least win him a BCS bowl game. The Wildcats have dropped their past four bowl games and haven't won a BCS game since defeating Syracuse 35-18 in the 1997 Fiesta Bowl." Pick: Oregon 44, Kansas State 38
My take: Motivation won't be an issue, but you have to be concerned with how K-State handles Oregon's backs. They'll run a similar scheme to Baylor, which rolled over K-State with the zone read. They're just better and faster at it. There's potential here for K-State to get blown out, but if its offense can keep up, this will be one of the most fun games of the season.
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Schlabach: "Beat Texas A&M again, which the Sooners have done in 11 of 13 tries under coach Bob Stoops. The Sooners defeated their former Big 12 rivals in eight of the past nine meetings." Pick: Texas A&M 38, Oklahoma 35
My take: I actually think Oklahoma matched up much better with possible Sugar Bowl opponent Florida, but there will be plenty of pressure on Landry Jones to produce. If OU keeps Damontre Moore at bay, he'll do it. Will it be enough?