Big 12 bowl capsules: Oklahoma’s CFP semifinal against Georgia in Rose Bowl highlights slate

Eight conference teams set for postseason matchups beginning with Texas Tech on Saturday

Quarterback Baker Mayfield (6), wide receiver Marquise Brown (5) and the Oklahoma Sooners headline the Big 12’s eight bowl qualifiers, earning a College Football Playoff matchup against Georgia in the Rose Bowl on Jan. 1. (File photograph/The Associated Press)

Eight of 10 Big 12 teams earned bowl invitations this football season, highlighted by Oklahoma’s Rose Bowl appearance against Georgia in the College Football playoff. Following are capsule looks at each game involving a Big 12 member:

 

ROSE BOWL (CFP semifinal): Oklahoma (12-1) vs. Georgia (12-1), 4 p.m., Monday, Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif. (ESPN)

For the first time since 2002, the Rose Bowl will be staged without a team from one of its usual tie-ins, the Pac-12 or Big Ten. Good. No sense letting the Granddaddy gum up the works for the College Football Playoff. Oklahoma has the most improvisational player (good and bad) in Heisman quarterback Baker Mayfield. Both Mayfield and his stout offensive line must be at their best to outfox Georgia’s physical defense, which is led by Butkus Award winner Roquan Smith. OU’s Lincoln Riley and Georgia’s Kirby Smart are two of the game’s brightest young coaches after guiding teams to titles in the Big 12 and SEC in their first and second seasons, respectively.

OTHER BIG 12 BOWLS

BIRMINGHAM BOWL: Texas Tech (6-6) vs. South Florida (9-2), 11 a.m. Saturday, Birmingham, Ala. (ESPN)

A win at Texas in the final game of the regular season thrust the Red Raiders into the bowl mix. After the win it was announced Kliff Kingsbury would return next season as Tech’s coach. Each team ranks in the top 20 nationally in total offense. South Florida will make a repeat appearance after beating South Carolina in overtime last year at Birmingham. Tech owns the best turnover margin in the Big 12 (plus-11) and also needs to capitalize on the Bulls’ penchant for penalties (9.1 per game).

HEART OF DALLAS BOWL: West Virginia (7-5) vs. Utah (6-6), 12:30 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26, Dallas (ESPN)

Mountaineers QB Will Grier announced he would return next season but figures to miss the bowl with a hand injury. All-Big 12 RB Justin Crawford is skipping the bowl to concentrate on his NFL ambitions. RB Kennedy McKoy is a strong rusher. At QB, Chris Chugunov is listed as the starter. Utah QB Tyler Huntley is expected to return from a shoulder injury. Huntley struggles with accuracy but can keep drives alive with his feet, which helps Utah control the clock and the pace.

CACTUS BOWL: Kansas State (7-5) vs. UCLA (6-6), 9 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 26, Phoenix (ESPN)

Winners in four of their last five games, the Wildcats recovered from a mid-season funk for the second straight year to gain bowl eligibility. QB Skylar Thompson brought some excitement to the K-State offense with his heroics late in the season. Chip Kelly won’t be directing the Bruins, but they are aware of the impression they can make on their new coach. K-State will attempt to exert its usual edge on special teams, while rushers should rumble against UCLA’s poor run defense.

TEXAS BOWL: Texas (6-6) vs. Missouri (7-5), 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 27, Houston (ESPN)

Reviews of Tom Herman in his first season as Longhorns coach were not altogether favorable. The 10-point lead they surrendered in the fourth quarter against Texas Tech as well as three turnovers in opposing territory put Texas in jeopardy of its fourth straight losing season. The authority Texas commands in the Big 12 was one of the reasons Missouri bolted for the SEC, so this would be a sweet win if the Tigers pull it off. They have won six straight behind strong-armed QB Drew Lock.

CAMPING WORLD BOWL: Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Virginia Tech (9-3), 4:15 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 28, Orlando, Fla. (ESPN)

Mike Gundy, who used a brief flirtation with Tennessee, to gain another raise as Oklahoma State coach, insists the Cowboys season is not a disappointment. QB Mason Rudolph and WR James Washington, two players that figure to go high in the NFL Draft, are both on board to play in the bowl. The Cowboys are bidding for their sixth 10-win season in nine years. Butkus Award finalist Tremaine Edmunds leads a talented Virginia Tech defense filled with underclassmen considering the NFL Draft.

ALAMO BOWL: TCU (10-3) vs. Stanford (9-4), 8 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 28, San Antonio (ESPN)

Both teams reached their league championship games in the Big 12 and Pac-12 before losing for the second time to Oklahoma and Southern Cal, respectively. Stanford RB Bryce Love is gifted, though the TCU defense will want to atone for a 41-17 loss the Frogs suffered in the Big 12 title match. Despite that setback, they rank 19th nationally in total defense, 12th in scoring and second in the red zone. Also, the game is a chance for TCU to prove it belonged in the New Year’s Six bowls.

LIBERTY BOWL: Iowa State (7-5) vs. Memphis (10-2), 11:30 a.m., Saturday, Dec. 30, Memphis, Tenn. (ABC)

The Cyclones were the trendy team in the Big 12 after beating Oklahoma and TCU. Matt Campbell was the trendy coach too. The buzz has worn off some, however, after ISU lost three of its last four. Now it must face Memphis on the Tigers’ home turf, where they went undefeated for the first time since Liberty Bowl Stadium opened in 1965. Memphis will look to bounce back from a 62-55 loss to Central Florida in double-overtime for the American Athletic Conference championship.

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