In the murky world of bowl matchups, there are few sure things leading up to Selection Sunday, but one game that’s sitting pretty is right down the road in San Antonio.
No matter what upsets occur in conference championship games, the Alamo Bowl is set to put together the best pairing shy of the New Year’s Six bowls.
“I think there’s going to be a touch of chaos this weekend,” Rick Hill, the Alamo’s vice president of marketing and communications, told the American-Statesman, “but in almost every scenario, we’re going to get a top-15 matchup.”
The Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29 at the Alamodome, will choose between the Bedlam loser — No. 9 Oklahoma vs. No. 10 Oklahoma State — or No. 16 West Virginia from the Big 12. The Pac-12 opponent is likely to come from the loser of Friday night’s Pac-12 title game between No. 4 Washington and No. 8 Colorado, or No. 11 USC.
The best guess at the moment is Oklahoma State vs. Colorado, two former Big Eight rivals.
Texas fans, meanwhile, should not expect to see the Longhorns in any bowl, even if they get an invitation as the third-highest-ranked 5-7 team in the Academic Progress Rate used to fill final bowl openings. Multiple bowl officials who didn’t want to be identified told the American-Statesman they’ve heard Texas won’t accept a bid.
Two Texas rivals could meet in the AdvoCare V100 Texas Bowl as Texas A&M and TCU are at the top of many projections for the Dec. 28 game at NRG Stadium in Houston.
Unlike other conferences, the SEC office places its teams, so Texas Bowl officials can’t actually pick A&M. But the Aggies seem a natural fit.
“We’re in a great situation, part of the SEC family, so we know we’ll get an attractive team,” said David Fletcher, executive director of the Texas Bowl. “The Aggies were here last year for our kickoff classic against Arizona State, but they haven’t been in our bowl for five years.”
The Big 12 component is likely to be the winner of the Kansas State at TCU game.
“All six bowl-eligible Big 12 teams are playing Saturday, so a lot can still happen, but we’d be very high on the K-State/TCU winner,” Fletcher said. “TCU, with a win, would be finishing strong, and Gary Patterson is one of the best coaches.
“Kansas State has a fantastic traveling fan base, and Bill Snyder is is a living legend. K-State also is on a winning streak and hasn’t been in our game since 2006.”
The Kansas State-TCU loser could be bound for the Liberty Bowl, although the Wildcats played there last year. Baylor appears headed for the Cactus Bowl.
Even with attractive options, the Alamo will have a hard time duplicating last year’s game, TCU’s 47-41 triple-overtime thriller over Oregon. Yet Hill is excited about the possibilities.
“Amazingly, we’ve never had Oklahoma in our game and we’re in year 24,” Hill said. “They are 1-0 in the Alamodome, having beaten Missouri in a Big 12 title game here. Oklahoma State was in our most attended game, in 2004 against Ohio State. We had hotels doing backflips after that one.
“West Virginia could be a 10-win team on a nice streak and with a fan base that likes to travel.”
On the Pac-12 side, USC,is on an eight-game winning streak and has never played in the Alamo Bowl. Resurgent Colorado hasn’t been there in 14 years.
Hill said it’s also conceivable that Stanford, with star running back Christian McCaffrey, and Washington State, led by former Texas Tech coach Mike Leach, could come into play.
The Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth is still hoping to land 19th-ranked Navy, although the Midshipmen could still play their way into a New Year’s Six game.
The Armed Forces has a tie-in with the Big 12, but the league does not have an eligible team to fill that spot. Executive director Brant Ringler said he does not expect Texas to be a possibility. He is hoping to hang onto Navy and trying to arrange the best opponent for the Midshipmen.
“I can’t even begin to tell you the options. There are far too may,” he said. “The Navy situation is really complicated.”
The Midshipmen play Temple in the American Athletic Conference title game Saturday and still play Army on Dec. 10.
“If Navy finishes higher ranked than Western Michigan and earns a New Year’s Six invite, it causes a chain reaction that could go down to maybe a dozen different bowls,” Ringler explained.
Staff writer Kevin Lyttle forecasts the postseason lineup. Check StatesmanU all weekend for updates:
Big 12 bowls
(in order of selection)
Sugar: Oklahoma (9-2) vs. Auburn (8-4), Jan. 2, New Orleans
Alamo: Oklahoma State (9-2) vs. Colorado (10-2), Dec. 29, San Antonio
Russell Athletic: West Virginia (9-2) vs. Miami (8-4), Dec. 28, Orlando
Texas: TCU (6-5) vs. Texas A&M (8-4), Dec. 28, Houston
Liberty: Kansas State (7-4) vs. Georgia (7-5), Dec. 30, Memphis
Cactus: Baylor (6-5) vs. Boise State (10-2), Dec. 27, Phoenix
Armed Forces: * Mississippi State (5-7) vs. Navy (9-2), Dec. 23, Fort Worth
Other Texas bowls/teams
Cotton: Western Michigan (12-0) vs. Penn State (10-2), Jan. 2, Arlington
Sun: Pittsburgh (8-4) vs. Utah (8-4), Dec. 30, El Paso
Heart of Dallas: Louisiana Tech (8-4) vs. South Alabama (5-6), Dec. 27
St. Petersburg: Houston (9-3) vs. Army (6-5), Dec. 26
New Mexico: Texas-San Antonio (6-6) vs. New Mexico (8-4), Dec. 17, Albuquerque