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Monday, November 24, 2008
Big 12 bowl projections: Sooners could soar to BCS title game

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

The Big 12's bowl alignment isn't any clearer after only two games last week. The conference could have one, two or maybe even three teams in the BCS depending on how things work out.

The only assurance appears that Nebraska is poised to crack New Year's Day for the first time since playing in the Cotton Bowl in 2006 if they can win Friday against Colorado.

The conference's strength at the top is coming with a price, however. The Big 12 likely won't be able to fulfill its bowl obligations, leaving at least one partner and maybe two, scrambling through other options.

No matter how this weekend plays out, it seems extremely unlikely the Big 12 won't have two teams in the BCS. And after that, the other bowls appear to be falling into line in an orderly manner with one week left in the regular season.

Because of the uncertainty at the top, bowls above the Alamo Bowl likely will not be able to arrange matchups until the final BCS standings are released on Dec. 7.

Here's a look at how the bowl possibilities for each of the school schools that still have a chance heading into this week's games.

Colorado
The Buffaloes must win at Nebraska on Friday to have any hope of making a bowl trip. Colorado has played well there before, winning two of the last three games at Memorial Stadium. But Dan Hawkins will be making his first trip there in a game where his bowl chances are on the line.

Kansas
The slumping Jayhawks are set for a bowl no matter how they play this week against Missouri. But a victory would provide them with some badly needed momentum, considering they have lost four of their last five games after starting the season 5-1. It's already a good year in one respect as coach Mark Mangino's team is making history with the first back-to-back bowl trips in the 119-season history of the program.

Missouri
The Tigers' national title hopes were killed by two embarrassing October losses to Oklahoma State and Texas. But Gary Pinkel has done a nice job of refocusing his team for the task at hand, which was winning the Big 12 North. After doing that, they have a chance to play in the Big 12 title game for the second straight season. A victory there would enable them to crash the BCS and throw the Big 12's neat plans for an orderly bowl configuration on its ear. A Big 12 title win likely would send the Tigers to the Fiesta Bowl. A loss means they most likely could end up heading to San Diego or San Antonio, where memories are not good after last season's second-half collapse against Oklahoma in the Big 12 title game.

Nebraska
The Cornhuskers have been one of the Big 12's hottest teams after winning four of their last five games since their midseason three-game losing streak. If Nebraska can win against Colorado, they could soar into a New Year's Day game at the Gator Bowl against old rival Florida State. A loss -- or a Notre Dame upset victory over USC Saturday in Los Angeles -- means they are most likely headed to Phoenix or El Paso.

Oklahoma
The Sooners' demolition of Texas Tech has resuscitated their BCS hopes. A win over Oklahoma State on Saturday improves their portfolio and could push them into the Big 12 title game for a history-making third straight time. And a victory there could boost them into serious BCS national title game discussion. The Sooners are the hottest Big 12 team down the stretch. They've played like it during a recent spurt since their midseason loss to Texas, averaging 59.2 points in their last five games.

Oklahoma State
The Cowboys will have a lot of fans in Lubbock this week as a victory over Oklahoma would boost the Red Raiders into the Big 12 title game. Mike Gundy's team is poised to make its best bowl trip since the 2004 Cotton Bowl depending how they play next week. The Cowboys are a regional bowl's dream team because of the way they travel, and bowls in Dallas, San Antonio and Shreveport would salivate at their chances to get them. But that support might convince an out-of-the-region bowl like the Holiday or Gator might take a chance if the Cowboys upset Oklahoma this week.

Texas
After soaring to No. 2 in the BCS standings this week, the Longhorns have serious national title hopes. And that could be maintained, even if they don't play in the Big 12 Championship Game. The first priority is to beat Texas A&M this week and let the other possibilities take care of themselves.

Texas Tech
The Red Raiders must pick up the pieces after their humiliating loss at Oklahoma last week. They still have perhaps the easiest path to make a trip to their first Big 12 title game by winning along with Texas and hoping that Oklahoma State stuns Oklahoma on Saturday. However it plays out, the Red Raiders' offensive firepower will be attractive to a number of bowls. But their BCS bowl hopes are likely shot unless they can win the Big 12 title.