|ESPN.com: NCF Nation||[Print without images]|
Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin
For all of the bluster about the strength at the top of the Big 12, the conference will make history this season as it will be unable to fulfill two of its bowl obligations.
Even as Oklahoma and Texas are likely headed to the BCS, the bowls at the bottom of the Big 12's pecking order, like the Texas Bowl and the Independence Bowl, will be squeezed out without Big 12 representation because of the conference's strength at the top.
It makes for a neat orderly transition for the seven Big 12 bowl teams -- the fewest bowl-eligible teams for the conference since 2004.
Here's a look at how the bowl possibilities for each of the conference's bowl-eligible schools shake out heading into the final week before bowl bids are given next Sunday.
The Jayhawks will be heading into the bowls after a strong comeback victory over Missouri that should resonate throughout the next several weeks. The extra time will also allow a banged-up team get healthy before leaving for their first back-to-back bowl trips in the 119-season history of the program.
The Tigers won't have much momentum as they head into practice for the Big 12 championship this week after the late collapse against Kansas. But if they could stun Oklahoma, it would turn around the late disappointment and push them into a BCS bowl game for the first time in the history of the program.
A loss could mean they could slide all the way to the Alamo Bowl in San Antonio, where memories aren't good after last season's second-half collapse against Oklahoma there in the Big 12 title game. And bowl officials have to be wondering how much excitement the Tigers could generate for a bowl trip coming off losses to Kansas and a loss in the Big 12 Championship Game.
The late comeback against Colorado has the Cornhuskers' momentum surging with five victories in their last six games. It's been quite a turnaround for coach Bo Pelini after a midseason three-game losing streak. It means the Cornhuskers likely are headed for a New Year's Day bowl appearance for the first time since a 2006 trip to the Cotton Bowl. And it represents a nice showing of progress in Pelini's first season.
The Sooners won't complain about their good fortune from the BCS computers that pushed them into the conference's championship game. Now, they must win against Missouri in order to assure a BCS berth. A triumph on Saturday means they are likely headed to the BCS title game for a shot at either Florida or Alabama and a chance at some retribution after some recent BCS humiliations. A loss to Missouri in Saturday's Big 12 title game could mean the Sooners skid to the Cotton Bowl or even the Holiday Bowl.
The 9-3 Cowboys were one of the biggest surprises in the Big 12, tying the school record for most victories in a regular season. Even with the disappointment of the Bedlam loss to Oklahoma, bowl organizers are counting on that fervor among OSU fans to fuel some enthusiasm in a bowl trip. That could mean the Cowboys would be attractive to the Holiday Bowl and a likely dream offensive matchup against Oregon. Or it could send them to San Antonio and a berth against Northwestern in the Alamo Bowl.
The Longhorns can't let the disappointment of the BCS snub that kept them out of the Big 12 title game stem their momentum from an 11-1 season that turned out much better than most preseason prognostications. The Longhorns are assured of a BCS bowl berth, and their hopes of sneaking into the national championship game will rely on a Missouri upset in the Big 12 title game. A more likely scenario would have them at the Fiesta Bowl if Oklahoma wins the Big 12 title game.
The end of the season is coming at a good time for the Red Raiders, who are nursing some significant injuries like Michael Crabtree (ankle), Graham Harrell (broken bones in left hand) and Daniel Charbonnet (concussion). The bowl rest will be welcome as they likely are headed for their second trip to the Cotton Bowl in the last four seasons. Their opponent likely will be a hot Mississippi team that has won its last five games and already stunned Florida earlier this season.