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Big 12 Conference Bowl Season Calendar and Previews

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Taking a brief look at all seven Big 12 bowl games, starting with today's.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

Seven Big 12 football programs have extended their seasons by becoming bowl eligible and play their 13th game this week. The fun begins today with the Armed Forces Bowl where Baylor faces a tough ACC opponent in North Carolina and concludes Saturday with West Virginia playing Arizona State in the Cactus Bowl. That is, of course, unless Oklahoma plays for that Natty.

Oklahoma is the Big 12's representative in the second annual CFB Playoff, and plays #1 Clemson in the Orange Bowl on New Year's Eve.

The National Championship game will be played in the University of Phoenix Stadium, Monday, January 11th, 2016 at 7:30 PM on ESPN.

Sunday
Monday
Tuesday
Wednesday
Thursday
Friday
Saturday
27
28
29
30
31
1
2

-Russell Athletic Bowl (Baylor, 4:30 PM)

-Texas Bowl (Texas Tech, 8:00 PM)

-Orange Bowl (Oklahoma, 3:00 PM)

-Sugar Bowl (Oklahoma State, 3:00 PM)

-Liberty Bowl (Kansas State, 2:20 PM)

-Alamo Bowl (TCU, 5:45 PM)

-Cactus Bowl (West Virginia, 9:15 PM)

3
4
5
6
7
8
9

Nothing of real importance

10
11
12
13
14
15
16

-National Championship (Oklahoma?, 8:30 PM)

December 29th

Russell Athletic Bowl @ 4:30 PM - ESPN

#17 Baylor Bears (9-3) vs # 10 North Carolina Tar Heels (11-2)

Line: Baylor +3

North Carolina opened the 2015 season with a 17-13 loss to lowly South Carolina and ended it with a 45-37 loss to top ranked Clemson in the ACC Championship game. In between, the Tar Heels were undefeated and rose as high as #10 in the CFB Rankings late in the season. Their signature win was a 66-31 win over the Duke Blue Devils at home on November 7th.

Baylor, behind the leadership of two different backup quarterbacks, lost three of their last four games of the regular season while managing a win in Stillwater 45-35. Typically, I would say it doesn't matter who is playing quarterback for Art Briles, but Chris Johnson looked completely out of his class against the Longhorns' defense in the season ending loss to Texas, and has completed just 39.5% of his 38 attempts with 2 interceptions. Now, the third string QB will be playing without the Bears' top receiver (Corey Coleman) and running back (Shock Linwood) against a totally capable Tar Heels defense led by Cyclone legend, Gene Chizik.

Combine the loss of star power on the Baylor sideline with Art Briles seeming inability to win in the postseason, and this could be a rough start for the conference.

Prediction: North Carolina 45-24

Texas Bowl @ 8:00 PM - ESPN

LSU Tigers (8-3) vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders (7-5)

Line: TTU +7

LSU's star running back, Leonard Fournette, spent much of the 2015 season as the Heisman favorite and justifiably so with 1741 rushing yards and 18 rushing touchdowns. Overall, the Tigers averaged 245.9 yards per game on the ground and will be a matchup nightmare for a Red Raiders defense that ranked 117th in the nation against the run.

However, this will be the most explosive offensive team Les Miles has faced all season and should be a challenge for his defense that hasn't allowed more than 38 (Ole Miss) points all season.

Prediction: LSU 66-45

December 31st

Orange Bowl @ 3:00 PM - ESPN

#1 Clemson Tigers (13-0) vs #4 Oklahoma Sooners (11-1)

Line: Oklahoma -3.5

With all due respect to Alabama and Michigan State, the Orange Bowl matchup between Clemson and Oklahoma is destined to be the marquee matchup on New Year's Eve.

The Tigers destroyed Oklahoma 40-6 in last year's Russell Athletic Bowl, forcing an overhaul of Bob Stoops' staff. Offensive Coordinators Jay Norvell and Josh Heupel were fired and Lincoln Riley was brought in to lead a new offense. Baker Mayfield transferred from Texas Tech and replaced 2014 quarterback, Trevor Knight, quickly endearing himself to the Sooners faithful.

Clemson, led by sophomore quarterback, DeShaun Watson, has been perfect this year with high profile wins over Notre Dame, Florida State and North Carolina. In fact, Clemson has not lost a game since a 28-6 loss to Georgia Tech in November of 2014. The Tigers are ranked 11th in total offense and 7th in defense, allowing just 295.7 yards per game.

Oklahoma won the Big 12 despite their head scratching loss to Texas back in October. Late season wins against Baylor, TCU and Oklahoma State were enough to secure the conference championship and a spot in the second annual playoffs.

Prediction: Oklahoma 55-48

January 1st

Sugar Bowl @ 7:30 PM - ESPN

#16 Oklahoma State (10-2) vs #12 Ole Miss (9-3)

Line: Ole Miss -7

A November trip to Ames was not the immediate undoing for an undefeated and highly ranked Oklahoma State team this time around, but it was their last win in 2015. Back to back losses to #18 Baylor and #4 Oklahoma following their narrow victory against Iowa State left the Cowboys out of the National Championship picture yet again.

Ole Miss was the only team this year, so far, to defeat Alabama. But, that was also true last season and the Land Shark defense was incapable of handling the Big 12's style of offense as TCU destroyed the Rebels in the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl 42-3.

Prediction: Oklahoma State 35-28

January 2nd

Liberty Bowl @ 2:20 PM - ESPN

Kansas State Wildcats (6-6) vs. Arkansas Razorbacks (7-5)

Line: K-State +13

Arkansas played, and lost to, Toledo and Texas Tech before beginning their SEC grind where they finished 5-3 in conference games. Notably, they did manage wins against LSU and Ole Miss.

Kansas State played, and won against, powerhouse non-conference opponents South Dakota, UTSA and Louisiana Tech before losing their first six conference games in the Big 12. Paul Rhoads' coaching inabilities re-ignited the Wizard's magical winning ways, and the Wildcats would go on to win their last three contests to gain yet another bowl berth for Bill Snyder.

Typically, I would favor the Big 12 in a matchup of conference middleweights, but Bill Snyder is appallingly 1-4 in bowl games since his resurrection in 2009 and Arkansas played pretty well towards the end of the year.

Prediction: Arkansas 38-24

Alamo Bowl @ 5:45 PM - ESPN

Oregon Ducks (9-3) vs. TCU Horned Frogs (10-2)

Line: PK

In what should have been a re-match of a semi-final matchup last season, Oregon and TCU instead match up for the first time since 1978.

Oregon is on a six game winning streak after a shaky start to 2015 and is 9-3 overall. Gone from the 2014 Ducks is their Heisman winning quarterback, now playing professionally for the Tennessee Titans, but not their high scoring offensive philosophy. The Ducks scored more than 40 points in all but five of their games, three of which were losses, and went Over in eight contests.

TCU was an up and down team defensively after most on that side of the ball were lost to graduation, injury or attrition from an impressive 2014 squad. Still, Trevone Boykin and his offense kept the Horned Frogs undefeated until November, where a 49-29 loss to Oklahoma State derailed their National Championship aspirations. A loss to Oklahoma, with Boykin on the sidelines due to injury, two weeks later solidified their exclusion from the Playoffs.

If you are a fan of scoring, this is a game for you.

Prediction: TCU 45-42

Cactus Bowl @ 9:15 PM - ESPN

West Virginia Mountaineers (7-5) vs. Arizona State Sun Devils (6-6)

Line: West Virginia -1

While West Virginia will travel across the country to play in their 13th bowl game in the past 15 seasons, Arizona State will stay much closer to home when the two meet in the Arizona desert in the Cactus Bowl. The Sun Devils rank in the top 25 of offenses, yet struggle to contain the pass, allowing an average of 321.7 passing yards per game.

The 2015 season was a bit of a disappointment for the Mountaineers. Impressive winners of their first three games built excitement within the program but West Virginia struggled with their front loaded Big 12 schedule where they faced the top four conference finishers during four consecutive weeks in October. November would ease some pressure off of Dana Holgorsen's job, and his team would go undefeated with the meat of their schedule behind them.

I expect a competitive, if not somewhat boring contest between these two teams.

Prediction: West Virginia 28-14

Let the games begin!