- David Ubben, College Football
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The Big 12 doesn't start bowl play for another two weeks, but here are the league's best- and worst-case scenarios once it does.
Best case: The Bears outgun the Bruins and slow down the zone read game just like they did to Kansas State last month. Nick Florence & Co. rack up another 600-yard game on offense and roll by three scores.
Worst case: Remember the Texas Bowl? Illinois ran all over Baylor in its first bowl game since the birth of the Big 12, and UCLA's Johnathan Franklin offers up an encore. He runs for 200 yards, and Baylor’s offense looks turnover-prone like it did early in the season.
Best case: Haven’t we seen this before? Iowa State doesn’t fall behind by nine points like it did in the first game and dominates both halves like it did the second half in September. Tulsa is never in it.
Worst case: Cody Green comes back to haunt the Cyclones. He was the man who helped deny ISU a bowl bid in 2010 at Nebraska, and he throws for 300 yards and runs for 75 more, sending the Cyclones to a second consecutive ugly bowl loss.
Best case: I thought these Ducks were supposed to be faster than everyone? Arthur Brown and Justin Tuggle rein in Kenjon Barner and De'Anthony Thomas, and Marcus Mariota falls victim to Kansas State, which forced 32 turnovers to rank sixth nationally and first in the Big 12. Kansas State suffocates the Oregon offense and leaves with a double-digit victory.
Worst case: Oh, they are fast. And Kansas State thinks it forces a lot of turnovers? Oregon forced a nation-leading 38 this season. Kansas State's offense loses its discipline and feels the pressure with a strong start from Oregon's backs after a couple of long runs, and it snowballs from there. Collin Klein attempts 45 passes. Kansas State goes down again by 30.
Best case: Landry Jones had one of his best games (2010 Big 12 title game) and one of his worst games (2009 season opener) in Cowboys Stadium. There’s no early deficit to climb out of in this one, though. A&M’s offense looks sluggish after the month-long break, and playcaller Kliff Kingsbury is missed. The Aggies go down by double digits.
Worst case: Johnny Be Good. Nobody knows that more than Oklahoma after this one. The Heisman winner pulls an RG III and saves one of his best games for the bowl, throwing for 300 yards and running for 150 against Mike Stoops’ defense. The Sooners get rolled by three scores.
Best case: Purdue is as awful as advertised. It is not Savannah State, but OSU makes it look similar. Pokes roll by 40, clearly motivated and not missing offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
Worst case: They told you they didn’t want to be here. The BCS was within reach just a few weeks ago with a lead in Bedlam. The Cowboys lost that and the next week and got shoved down to a bowl that wasn’t even in the Big 12 lineup last year and kicks off before lunchtime on New Year’s Day. OSU looks like it would rather be still in bed, and Purdue pulls the shocker while OSU’s offense flounders without a proven playcaller at the helm.
Best case: Just like last year, the bowl game leaves folks wondering about a Big 12 title run in 2013. David Ash looks like his old self from the first half of the season, and with all three backs healthy, Malcolm Brown, Johnathan Gray and Joe Bergeron keep fresh legs churning against the Beavers. Texas' defense bounces back, and the Longhorns roll by two scores.
Worst case: That defense never really was fixed, was it? Texas can’t get it done with either quarterback, and new offensive coordinator Major Applewhite gets frustrated enough to burn quarterback Connor Brewer’s redshirt after McCoy and Ash both get hurt; he’s not letting a punter play quarterback in his first game calling plays. It doesn’t help. Texas loses by 20 and is left with a long, long offseason.
Best case: The Frogs win the matchup on the offensive line and roll over Michigan State in a low-scoring 20-3 win in Tempe, Ariz. It's nice to still go to a decent bowl when you lose more than a game or two, and TCU shows that appreciation in Year 1 in its new league.
Worst case: You will know the name Le'Veon Bell. The powerful runner racks up 200 yards, and TCU's offense goes nowhere. Big Ten running games have had success in bowl games against the Big 12 pretty often, and this is no different. Michigan State throws seven passes, and TCU's defense gets outmuscled in a 20-3 loss.
Best case: Call it Kliff Power. The Red Raiders' patchwork bowl staff gets the team together during the break, and Tech makes the most of its practices after missing the postseason last year. Minnesota gets rolled by 30, and the fans start a campaign to keep Chris Thomsen on Kingsbury’s new staff.
Worst case: Get the old guys out of here. The offense looks lost, and the defense looks like its coaches had one foot out the door to Cincinnati. Jerry Kill’s team pulls the upset by a touchdown with costly turnovers from Seth Doege and a leaky defense that gives up 300 yards on the ground.
Best case: Geno Smith avenges the loss last year against Syracuse, and WVU shows the Big East what a real high-powered offense looks like once again. Smith and Tavon Austin go out in style with a three-touchdown win, and students storm the campus at Syracuse and take back the Schwartzwalder Trophy by force.
Worst case: Quarterback Ryan Nassib will haunt West Virginia’s dreams in this one. The Orange make it three in a row against the Big 12 at Yankee Stadium with a 450-yard passing day.
2dSharon Katz, ESPN Stats & Information
3dTom VanHaaren and Erik McKinney