When charting postseason destinations for Texas, the Cotton Bowl may be closer to reality than Longhorn fans think.
Before penciling in Texas for the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., the most likely scenario at this point, consider the Cotton hasn’t had the Horns in 11 years and Mack Brown might be a sentimental choice if the Cotton wanted to give him a royal sendoff if it’s his last game.
If Texas beats Texas Tech and Baylor to finish 9-3, but Oklahoma State wins the Big 12, the Longhorns would be the favorite to land in Arlington for the Jan. 3 game. Even if the Horns split the final two, a Cotton Bowl bid is a possibility. The Cotton could have a tough choice between an 8-4 Texas and a 10-2 Oklahoma State that whipped the Longhorns in Austin.
“Any time Texas is available, they’re always going to be given consideration because of their great history with us,” Cotton Bowl president Rick Baker told the American-Statesman on Thursday. “We love Mack, and he’s been great for the Cotton Bowl, as has (retiring athletic director) DeLoss Dodds.”
Just don’t expect a Texas vs. Texas A&M matchup. Barring a late-season collapse, 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnn Manziel and the Aggies are more likely to end up in the Capital One Bowl on New Year’s Day in Orlando, Fla.
Last year, the Cap One, which picks the next-best SEC team not in a BCS bowl, desired A&M but was pressured by the SEC office to take Georgia, a heartbreak loser to Alabama in the SEC championship game.
This time the Cap One might be more forceful in grabbing Johnny Football and possibly pairing him against the nation’s top-ranked defense of Michigan State.
The already sold-out Cotton Bowl usually takes an SEC West team to oppose the Big 12, and LSU is a strong possibility, especially if it beats A&M on Saturday. South Carolina, Auburn, Missouri and A&M also are in the mix.
“We’ve never had Coach (Steve) Spurrier in the Cotton Bowl, so that would be something special,” Baker said.
Texas made its first appearance in the Cotton in 1943, and this is the last chance for that bowl to pick the Longhorns because next year the Cotton joins the BCS rotation and the new BCS selection committee will make the choices for the Cotton, as well as the other five bowls in the playoff rotation.
Don’t completely dismiss the fact that Brown’s first bowl game as Longhorn coach came in the 1999 Cotton Bowl, where a Ricky Williams-led team pummeled Jackie Sherrill’s Mississippi State 38-11.
As to the possibility of a four-loss Texas in the Cotton, Baker mentioned several four-loss SEC teams playing in that bowl recently, going back to 8-4 Arkansas in 2008.
However, the best guess is an 8-4 Texas landing in the Buffalo Wild Wings (Dec. 28, 9:15 p.m.), possibly even a 7-5 Texas. Michigan (7-3) is a strong possibility as the Big Ten opponent.
Baylor probably needs to win the Big 12 to get to a BCS bowl. The Bears’ at-large chances are hurt by other conference bowl affiliations, even ones that haven’t kicked in yet.
The Alamo Bowl, which follows the Cotton in the Big 12 pecking order, won’t rule out Texas, which played in San Antonio last year, but appears more inclined to arrange an Oklahoma vs. Stanford match.
“Typically you don’t want a repeat team, but we took Purdue in back-to-back years when they had a local guy like Drew Brees leading the charge,” said Rick Hall, Alamo vice president of marketing and communications.
The Holiday Bowl’s Big 12 choice likely comes down to Kansas State or Texas Tech against the Pac-12’s Southern Cal, Arizona State, Stanford or UCLA, perhaps in that order. But the Holiday also likes Texas in any scenario.
“We’ve had Texas five times, and it’s been great every single time,” said Holiday Bowl executive director Bruce Binkowski, who will be in Austin on Thanksgiving to scout Texas vs. Texas Tech. “We’d like to have a team coming off a victory. K-State, for one, is very appealing. They are finishing on a roll. But Texas … can you imagine if we got a Texas-USC matchup?”
The Texas Bowl in Houston could wind up with Texas Tech for a second straight year. Iowa is a logical candidate from the Big Ten, with Michigan, Minnesota and Nebraska as outside possibilities.
“We’re a Texas bowl, and we like having a Texas team in it,” executive director Jamey Rootes said. “Kliff Kingsbury has reinvigorated the program. But Kansas State would bring an amazing coach with Bill Snyder. Either option is exciting.”
Kevin Lyttle and Kirk Bohls take an early look at who could end up in BCS games, bowls with Big 12 affiliations and other state bowls:
Texas;Dec. 27;Houston;Big 12 No. 6 vs. Big Ten No. 6;Texas Tech (7-4) vs. Iowa (6-4)
Buffalo Wild Wings;Dec. 28;Tempe, Ariz.;Big 12 No. 4 vs. Big Ten No. 4/5;Texas (7-3) vs. Michigan (7-3)
Pinstripe;Dec. 28;New York City;Big 12 No. 7 vs. American No. 4;*Notre Dame (7-3) vs. Rutgers (5-4)
Armed Forces;Dec. 30;Fort Worth;MWC vs. at-large;Colorado State (6-5) vs. Navy (6-4)
Alamo;Dec. 30;San Antonio;Big 12 No. 3 vs. Pac-12 No. 2;Oklahoma (8-2) vs. Stanford (8-2)
Holiday;Dec. 30;San Diego;Big 12 No. 5 vs. Pac-12 No. 3;Kansas State (6-4) vs. Southern Cal (8-3)
Sun;Dec. 31;El Paso;ACC No. 4 vs. Pac-12 No. 4;Virginia Tech (7-4) vs. Arizona State (8-2)
Heart of Dallas;Jan. 1;Dallas;Big Ten No. 7 vs. C-USA;*Boston College (6-4) vs. North Texas (7-3)
Capital One;Jan. 1;Orlando, Fla.;SEC No. 2 vs. Big Ten No. 2;Texas A&M (8-2) vs. Michigan State (9-1)
Rose;Jan. 1;Pasadena, Calif.;Big Ten No. 1 vs. Pac-12 No. 1;Ohio State (10-0) vs. Oregon (9-1)
Fiesta;Jan. 1;Glendale, Ariz.;Big 12 No. 1 vs. BCS;Baylor (9-0) vs. Fresno State (9-0)
Sugar;Jan. 2;New Orleans;SEC No. 1 vs. BCS;Auburn (10-1) vs. Central Florida (8-1)
Cotton;Jan. 3;Arlington;Big 12 No. 2 vs. SEC;Oklahoma State (9-1) vs. LSU (7-3)
Orange;Jan. 3;Miami;ACC No. 1 vs. BCS;Clemson (9-1) vs. Wisconsin (8-2)
BCS title;Jan. 6;Pasadena, Calif.;BCS vs. BCS;Alabama (10-0) vs. Florida State (10-0)
* league cannot meet its bowl obigation, so a team from the at-large pool is needed.