Here’s a look at the Big 12 in those way-too-early bowl projections.
Russell Athletic: Kansas State vs. Clemson
Buffalo Wild Wings: Oregon State vs. TCU Liberty: Oklahoma State vs. Tennessee
Texas: Texas Tech vs. Texas A&M
Alamo: Texas vs. UCLA
Cotton: Baylor vs. Georgia
Sugar: Alabama vs. Oklahoma
Russell Athletic: Notre Dame vs. Texas Buffalo Wild Wings: Oregon State vs. TCU Liberty: Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss
Texas: Oklahoma State vs. Texas A&M
Alamo: Kansas State vs. UCLA
Peach: Georgia vs. Baylor Cotton: Oklahoma vs. Cincinnati
A few thoughts:
McMurphy has Oklahoma earning a College Football Playoff berth with their rematch against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl. That wouldn’t be a major surprise for a Sooners squad that returns a strong and talented defense to pair with sophomore quarterback Trevor Knight.
Baylor and Oklahoma, the two favorites to win the conference, are projected in appearances in the Cotton, Peach and Sugar bowls. McMurphy and Schlabach expect strong years, again, from the Big 12’s representatives in the final BCS bowl games in 2013.
McMurphy and Schlabach each have seven Big 12 teams going bowling but the landing spots differ quite a bit, a sign of the wide-open nature of the conference this fall after the two favorites, Baylor and Oklahoma.
TCU’s appearance in the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl is the lone agreement from the duo. With its strong defense, the Horned Frogs simply need more efficiency on offense to return to a bowl game this fall. TCU’s defense is too strong to expect a second-straight bowl less campaign.
Kansas State, along with Texas, provided the biggest disagreement among the two, with Schlabach expecting the Wildcats to be among the conference’s top three teams while McMurphy has Bill Snyder’s squad finishing in the bottom half of the conference. With plenty of question marks on the roster, it wouldn’t be a shock to see the Wildcats fall into the bottom half of the Big 12, but quarterback Jake Waters gives KSU something the majority of the league is still searching for as a proven veteran quarterback.
UT is essentially interchangeable with the Wildcats with Charlie Strong’s first season in Austin projected to end in a bowl game by the duo. McMurphy projects UT among the top half of the Big 12 and Schlabach expects Strong’s influence to take a little longer to pay off during a bottom-half finish for the Longhorns.
Mike Gundy’s program is, understandably, expected to take a step backward after playing for a Big 12 title on the final day of the 2013 season. Projections into the Texas and Liberty bowls would represent a solid mid-conference finish for young team trying to replace several seniors.
Texas Tech isn't projected to make a major jump up the standings in Kliff Kingsbury's second season in Lubbock. Question marks along all three levels of the Red Raiders' defense is the likely culprit.
Neither McMurphy nor Schlabach projects West Virginia, Iowa State or Kansas to make a bowl appearance. Of those squads, the talent-laden Mountaineers could have the best chance of proving the duo wrong.