Update: A prevision version indicated the Longhorns of the Texas were giant unfun babies. This version has been corrected to properly indicate that it was the SEC and the Aggies of Texas Agriculture and Military that were unfun children.
The Big 12 Bowl Picture is a mess, so I’m going to attempt to offer some clarity.
First let’s get the ground rules down. The Big 12 has eight bowl eligible teams. They have seven total bowl tie-ins. This does not include an automatic berth to one of the so-called “New Years 6” games (which essentially take the place of the BCS bowls in the previous format) as the Sugar Bowl is hosting one of the two semifinal games for the College Football Playoff. Unlike some conferences, there is no predestined order for which teams are assigned to these bowls (e.g., the second-place team goes to the Beef O’Brady Bowl, the third-place team goes to the Mighty Mac Weedeater and Feed Bowl Presented by Cialis and so-on.) The conferences, the teams, and the bowls have input into the selection process, but ultimately each bowl will make their selection based on a combination of factors.
Don’t look for any real clarity anytime soon, either. While most of the bowls have an idea of who they’d like to select; there are plenty of variables and each will have a lot of different scenarios to work out. The biggest domino to fall will come after Championship Saturday and then announcements by the CFB committee and NY6 bowls. Other factors can come into play too — such as a coaching leaving for another job or being fired.
With all of that said, I’ll try to layout the scenario for each bowl and where I think WVU stands.
College Football Playoff (Sugar or Rose) — This is maybe a whole article in itself, but we’ll assume Oklahoma wins the Big 12 title game and gets slotted in here. If they don’t things get a little interesting for TCU.
Goodyear Tire Cotton Bowl — With Notre Dame’s loss to Stanford, it seems likely that the Cotton Bowl will take a Big 12 team in some capacity. As mentioned above, if TCU wins the B12CG, there will be a lot of discussion if they deserve a spot in the playoff, but Oklahoma would be a mortal lock for this game anyway. Either team is likely to play Penn State. Prediction: TCU Horned Frogs vs Penn State Nittany Lions
Valero Alamo — Unless TCU somehow fell out of the top 15, this one seems pretty sealed up for Oklahoma State. Their opponent also seems likely to be Washington of the Husky variety. Prediction: Oklahoma State Cowboys vs Washington Huskies
Camping World — Here is where the “fun” really begins. The remaining bowl eligible teams are all grouped pretty tightly and each present interesting strengths and weakness for the bowls to consider. The Camping World Bowl nee Russell Athletic looks poised to win the Notre Dame lottery, which opens up their Big 12 selection considerably, as Notre Dame will both bring a ton of fans and television viewers. They have previously been very complimentary of WVU, so it seems very possible that this could be our ultimate landing spot. One possible catch: bowls sometimes want to avoid selecting teams in back to back years; if that’s the case look for Texas, Iowa State or Kansas State to get the nod. Prediction: West Virginia Mountaineers vs Notre Dame Fighting Irish
AdvoCare V100 Texas — The Texas Bowl will have a lot of interesting matchups to consider. They seem very likely to select a team from the State of Texas for ticket sales purposes, but could have the option of selecting Texas A&M to check that box. As much fun as a Lone Star Shootout game would be, it’s also very unlikely. The Aggies’s previously nixed that match up in 2014, which resulted in WVU facing A&M in the Liberty Bowl instead of Tennessee; it’s seems hard to imagine that would have changed now. Prediction: Texas Longhorns vs Missouri Tigers
AutoZone Liberty — I am not sure you can find someone at WVU who has a positive thing to say about this bowl. The 2014 game was abysmal for a lot of reasons. The date is bad for fans (Dec 30), the team hotel sucks, and the stadium is awful. Double-bonus — there’s a pretty good chance you could be playing a pretty good Memphis team in a home game. Assuming WVU and Texas have already been selected, I would be surprised if the Liberty Bowl folks passed on either Iowa State or Kansas State to select Texas Tech, even if Memphis is the opponent because both travel extremely well. If WVU is still on the board they could get selected, though as mentioned above, I believe we’d prefer either of the two remaining options to this one. Prediction: Iowa St. Cyclones vs Memphis Tigers
Cactus — For 2017, the Cactus Bowl moved from January 2nd to December 26th. This made the bowl a lot more attractive for fans. Their choice will largely depend on who is left from their pool in the Pac 12/Big 12 selections but my guess is they’ll take which ever of Kansas State or Iowa State is available. If WVU is still on the board, hard to imagine them passing on us. Prediction: Kansas State Wildcats vs Arizona State Sun Devils
Zaxby's Heart of Dallas — With the last pick, the Heart of Dallas bowl is likely happy with whoever they get to be honest, but Texas Tech is a good fit here. Prediction: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs Marshall Thundering Herd