Leave it up to the BCS system to create havoc with the Big 12's bowl games. By virtue of Northern Illinois finishing in the top 16 plus finishing ahead of the Big East and Big Ten's champions, Oklahoma fell out of a probable BCS bid into the Cotton Bowl. That caused the domino effect to cascade through the rest of the Big 12's bowl selections
Look at it this way, in the end all the BCS bowl games are nothing more than a name so call them whatever you like. Northern Illinois vs. Florida State in the Orange Bowl? Great. I'll take Oklahoma and Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl any day, BCS bowl game or not. The same could be said for several other games that will be played outside of the traditional BCS games.
Schools lose out on some of the prestige that comes from playing in a BCS bowl and some bowl money to go a long with it, but that's not a worry to most fans. They want great football matchups, period.
The BCS failed to deliver in three of their five games this year, but their loss is several other bowl games gain and they'll soon have the TV ratings to prove it (Not that ABC/ESPN cares, I guess, because they're broadcasting all but two games. They'll get the ratings one way or another).
Here's a look at how the Big 12 bowl lineup ended up with a few comments to follow.
|Fiesta Bowl||Jan. 3rd||Glendale, AZ||Kansas State vs. Oregon|
|Cotton Bowl||Jan. 4th||Arlington, TX||Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M|
|Alamo Bowl||Dec. 29th||San Antonio, TX||Texas vs. Oregon State|
|Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl||Dec. 29th||Tempe, AZ||TCU vs. Michigan State|
|Holiday Bowl||Dec. 27th||San Diego, CA||Baylor vs. UCLA|
|Meineke Car Care Bowl||Dec. 28th||Houston, TX||Texas Tech vs. Minnesota|
|Pinstripe Bowl||Dec. 29th||New York, NY||West Virginia vs. Syracuse|
|Heart of Dallas Bowl||Jan. 1st||Dallas, TX||Oklahoma State vs. Purdue|
|Liberty Bowl||Dec. 31st||Memphis, TN||Iowa State vs. Tulsa|
*Outside of the BCS title game, there isn't a better bowl game on the schedule than Kansas State taking on Oregon. There's plenty of things wrong with the BCS system, but this is what is looks like when the system gets it right.
As do most teams, Kansas State will have their hands full trying to slow down the Ducks' offense, but give Bill Snyder a month to prepare for any team, and I like his chances.
*How about Oklahoma and Texas A&M in the Cotton Bowl? Another great, great game for a plethora of reasons. Oklahoma may not be in the Sugar Bowl, but this is about as soft a landing as the Sooners could have hoped for. They'll be plenty of hype and excitement leading up the showdown in Cowboys Stadium.
*The biggest surprise of the day had to be Oklahoma State falling all the way to the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Cowboys may have ended the season with a two game losing streak, but the Pokes still finished ahead of TCU, Texas Tech, and West Virginia (and tied with Texas) in the Big 12 standings. Each of those schools went to bowl games that selected before the Heart of Dallas Bowl who has the final selection of the Big 12's eight bowl agreements.
Much of the talk after Northern Illinois qualified for the BCS was how OU then got the short end of the stick, but no school was probably more adversely affected by it than were the Cowboys, at least as far as bowl prestige goes.
*How close did 6-6 Iowa State come to not being selected for a bowl game? I'll guess we'll never know, but the Cyclones bowl possibilities had to at least be in jeopardy when OU fell out of a possible Sugar Bowl bid. That left eight teams for seven Big 12 spots. Luckily, the Liberty Bowl was more than happy to take the Cyclones. The game is played in Memphis which will be within driving distance for many ISU fans.
*It was interesting to note that of the four teams in the Big 12 that finished 7-5, TCU was selected before any of the others. Not that the Horned Frogs weren't deserving. They had a 2-1 record against the other three (Oklahoma State, West Virginia, and Baylor) and they also beat Texas the second to last week of the season.
*Along those same lines, finishing the season strong appeared to be high on bowl committees list o criteria in making their selections.
Of the four teams that were 7-5, here's a look at how they finished the season over the final four games:
TCU: finished 2-2 with wins coming against West Virginia and Texas and a seven point loss to Oklahoma.
Baylor: finished 3-1 with wins over Kansas State, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State and lost to OU by eight. Before that stretch, it seemed like a long shot whether or not Baylor would even be eligible. Hats off to the Bears on the strong finish.
West Virginia: finished 2-2 but their wins were against Iowa State and Kansas.
Texas Tech: Lost three of their final four games and four of their last five with the lone win coming against Kansas.
All told, nine of the ten teams in the league are going bowling. Impressive? Yes, and then some.
What is another great aspect of the Big 12's bowl lineup? Not once during bowl season will another Big 12 team be playing at the same time as another team in the conference. The only day when there are multiple Big 12 games is December 29th when there are three, but all three games that day are in a different time slot. Well done.
That's something other conferences can probably learn something from (looking at you Big Ten when four of their five bowl games on January 1st kick off within an hour of each other. The only exception being the Rose Bowl).