Big 12: bowl rankings 15

Bowl bonanza could reap huge benefits for Big 12

December, 8, 2008
12/08/08
5:36
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

Sure, the Big 12 couldn't fill all of its bowl agreements. Fans in Houston and Shreveport will have to do without a Big 12 representative in their bowls this season.

But the conference appears to have been situated in some winnable games. Early odds have not been released, but it would be surprising if more than a couple of Big 12 teams were underdogs in their games.

With that being the case, the Big 12's national stature may be riding on a big bowl season. Because if teams from the conference collectively fail this season, it will be presumed as little more than a pass-heavy league where defense isn't played.

Here's my own unofficial listing of the attractivness of the conference's seven bowl games this year.

1. BCS Championship Game
No. 1 Oklahoma vs. No. 2 Florida, Jan. 8, 8 p.m., FOX: This game has everything. It's the battle between two of three best scoring offenses in the country. Two likely Heisman finalists in Sam Bradford and Tim Tebow. And Bob Stoops needs a victory to restore some of the national lusture to his program -- against the school where he first emerged as a national name.
2. Fiesta Bowl
No. 3 Texas vs. No. 10 Ohio State, Jan. 5, 8 p.m., FOX: The Longhorns aren't exactly excited to be in the desert. But an impressive victory and a lackluster national championship game might give them an argument for a shared national title. The game will pit two traditional powers. And unlike most Big 12 games this season, defense won't be an afterthought.
3. Holiday Bowl
No. 13 Oklahoma State vs. No. 17 Oregon, Dec. 30, 8 p.m., ESPN: I can't wait for this game. Jeremiah Johnson vs. Kendall Hunter. Phil Knight vs. T. Boone Pickens. Pistol Pete vs. that crazy Duck mascot. This one will be like a game we've seen in the Big 12 a lot this season. First team to 50 points wins in a game where the two teams may combine for more than 1,000 yards.
4. Cotton Bowl
No. 7 Texas Tech vs. No. 25 Mississippi, Jan. 2, 2 p.m., FOX: It should be quite a show with Mike Leach and Michael Crabtree helping usher out the Cotton Bowl's era at the old stadium in Fair Park. The two teams had shootouts in 2002 and 2003 in an earlier series and I'm expecting a similar game in this one.
5. Alamo Bowl
No. 21 Missouri vs. No. 23 Northwestern, Dec. 29, 8 p.m., ESPN: The Big 12's North champions limp into this game coming off a two-game losing streak. And the game will be played in the Alamodome, a place where they were they lost the Big 12 title game last season. But Chase Daniel's final collegiate game promises to be a festive one, particularly when it's in his home state.
6. Gator Bowl
Nebraska vs. Clemson, Jan. 1, 1 p.m., CBS: This one will pit Nebraska's underrated offense against a Clemson defense that ranks in the top 17 teams in pass defense, total defense and scoring defense. But Clemson will be breaking in a new defensive coordinator and Roy Helu Jr. has been running strongly in recent games, likely given the Cornhuskers a slim edge.
7. Insight Bowl
Kansas vs. Minnesota, Dec. 31, 5:30 p.m., NFL Netwo
rk:
The Jayhawks will toast their first back-to-back bowl appearances in school history by meeting a Minnesota team that lost its last four games and finished 91st in total offense and 104th in rushing. If the Kansas secondary can hold up, Mark Mangino could have his team in line for its third-straight bowl victory.

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