The Big 12 might not have a championship game. But it does have two games this weekend that hold conference title implications. As a result, what happens in Bedlam and Baylor-Texas will have major bowl consequences as well.
Monday, I spent the afternoon on the phone trying to find out how bowls with Big 12 tie-ins might react to the final two regular-season games, and the different bowl scenarios that might ensue.
Here’s what that reporting revealed:
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl (Jan. 1)
The Fiesta is pretty obvious and clear-cut. Oklahoma State goes if it wins Bedlam. If it doesn’t, the winner of Baylor-Texas goes.
Because the Fiesta has the last at-large selection this year, the Big 12 opponent would be Northern Illinois. However, if the Huskies were upset in the MAC title game, the opponent would then be AAC champ Central Florida, assuming the Knights take care of SMU this weekend.
Allstate Sugar Bowl (Jan. 2)
The only viable scenario that gets the Big 12 a second BCS bowl team is this: Northern Illinois loses to Bowling Green in the MAC title game, sending Central Florida to the Fiesta and freeing up the Sugar to make an at-large selection.
Assuming there were no upsets in the ACC or Big Ten title games, an 11-1 Baylor would be the highest-ranked at-large available.
Waiting there would be Alabama or the winner of the SEC championship game, if Missouri or Auburn doesn't make it into the national title game.
AT&T Cotton Bowl (Jan. 3)
This is where things get interesting.
If Oklahoma State and Northern Illinois win this weekend, the Cotton would take the winner of Baylor-Texas.
But if Oklahoma State lost Bedlam? The Cotton could actually lean toward the Cowboys. This might irk Sooners fans, but remember, bowls prefer not taking repeat teams, and Oklahoma played in the Cotton last year.
As for the SEC opponent, while most prognosticators are predicting LSU here, the Cotton could actually end up with Missouri or even South Carolina.
If Auburn wins the SEC (and South Carolina ends up in the Capital One Bowl) the Cotton would be inclined to take Missouri. But if Missouri wins the SEC (and Auburn went to the Capital One) the Cotton could jump at the chance of snagging the Gamecocks, who have never been to the Cotton.
One speculative footnote: would the possibility of pairing Bob Stoops against one of his mentors (Steve Spurrier) prompt the Cotton to revisit Oklahoma?
Valero Alamo Bowl (Dec. 30)
Win or lose Bedlam, all signs point toward the Sooners heading to San Antonio. Oklahoma has never been to the Alamo before, and the belief is that the bowl would not pass on the Sooners – especially considering the Alamo has had Texas, Baylor and Oklahoma State the last three years.
The only scenario where the Alamo might not take Oklahoma? The Bears lose a nail biter to Texas after the Sooners get blasted in Bedlam, like 2011. Maybe then the Alamo would think twice about taking Baylor.
The pairing most likely would be Oregon, which would constitute one of the more compelling bowl matchups either way.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl (Dec. 28)
The Buffalo Wild Wings is in a prime spot, because it’s likely to get one of the four teams in the top tier of the league.
The bowl will have to see what the Cotton does, but there’s a good chance the Buffalo Wild Wings ends up with Texas, which has only been to Phoenix for a bowl twice (the Fiesta in the 1996 and 2008 seasons).
This potentially would comprise another big-name matchup, with the Buffalo Wild Wings to decide between Michigan or Nebraska on the other side. If it’s Nebraska-Texas, the stadium could probably make a killing selling hate at the concession stands.
National University Holiday Bowl (Dec. 30)
The pick here will be Kansas State, provided the Big 12 doesn’t get two BCS bowl teams.
It is expected that the Holiday would pair the Wildcats with the loser of Stanford-Arizona State, unless for some reason the Alamo passed on Oregon, in which case the Holiday would grab the Ducks.
Texas Bowl (Dec. 27)
The Red Raiders are headed back to the Texas, assuming there's only one BCS berth for the league.
The Big Ten’s final bowl qualifier, Minnesota, would be the opponent, unless the TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl loses its mind and passes on Michigan or Nebraska.