It is the most wonderful time of the year! It’s time for the College Football bowl season! There are 40 bowl games (plus the National Championship game) to look forward to. In this series, I will be looking at all 80 teams who qualified for the postseason and breaking down their matchups. Each installment will focus on teams from a respective conference. This year, two teams will be making their bowl debut, one bowl-eligible team was left home, and there are 14 instances where the teams are facing for the first time in history! Let’s take a look at the 2019 Big XII Bowls.
2019 Big XII Bowls Preview
Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas Bowl
Oklahoma State vs Texas A&M
The first of the 2019 Big XII bowls is actually a rematch of old Big XII foes. Oklahoma State and Texas A&M will meet for the 28th time in the Texas Bowl. The Cowboys will be looking to improve upon their 10-17 record against the Aggies. Oklahoma State finished the regular season an uninspiring 8-4 (7-4 vs FBS foes). Their undoing, obviously, was their 5-4 Big XII record where they fell to the three of the best teams in the conference, as well as Texas Tech.
All season, the offense was led by Big XII offensive player of the year, redshirt sophomore running back Chuba Hubbard. Hubbard led the nation in rushing yards with 1,936 and tops the Big XII in touchdowns with 21. His emergence has earned the respect of defenses which has made the life of freshman quarterback Spencer Sanders so much easier. His 2,065 passing yard and 16 touchdowns may not seem like much when you look at the recent history of the Cowboys, but he added 625 yards and a pair of scores on the ground. Good news and bad news. The good news is that OSU will have Hubbard in this game as he has not decided on his draft future as of yet. The bad news is that they will be without leading receiver Tylan Wallace due to a torn ACL suffered in their loss in Bedlam.
Oklahoma State gives up points. In their losses, the Cowboys’ opponents scored at least 34 points. The 63rd scoring defense also gives up more than 400 yards per game. In the Big XII, it is understandable because most of the teams have explosive spread offenses. It will be interesting to see how they line up against a decent offense in Texas A&M. When it’s all said and done, I have the Cowboys winning this matchup. Hubbard and Sanders are an elite duo, so the Aggies will have their work cut out for them. I am selfish, so I want Hubbard to return to college football so we can have another year of phenomenal running back play.
Camping World Bowl
Iowa State vs Notre Dame
The Camping World Bowl features Iowa State and Notre Dame. This Cyclone team was probably a bounce away from challenging for the Big XII title. Yes, they have five losses but they were by one, two, seven, one, and ten points. Convert those three losses under three points and ISU would have beaten their rival, kept Oklahoma out of the Playoffs, and ended the season with 10 wins.
Iowa State has an explosive offense led by Sophomore quarterback Brock Purdy. Purdy tallied 3,760 yards through the air and converted 27 touchdowns. Purdy helped four of his receivers gain over 600 yards. While this is not as impressive as Hawai’i’s Cole McDonald, Purdy is a stud who is poised to take over the conference. Due to the fact that they spread the offense out, it opens up lanes for running back Breece Hall. The freshman has a bright future after amassing 1,049 yards from scrimmage and 10 touchdowns. This quarterback-running back duo is going to enjoy at least one more legendary season.
Thanks to the elite-level that the offense can operate on, the defense can afford to be a bit lackluster. This is where Notre Dame will be able to take over. On six separate occasions, the defense gave up more than 400 total yards. Their worst effort was, as expected, against Oklahoma where they gave up nearly 500 yards. Fighting Irish quarterback Ian Book will be able to get the better of this defense. It will be a good game, but the overall talent of Notre Dame should be the deciding factor. With a non-conference slate of South Dakota, Iowa, and UNLV, ISU is primed for a successful 2020. I, for one, am ready to watch.
CFP Semifinal at the Chic-Fil-A Peach Bowl
Oklahoma vs LSU
The first CFP semifinal is at the Peach Bowl and it will pit number four Oklahoma against number one LSU. All year, the Sooners have taken care of business, outside of their one letdown. It was certainly a tale of two halves. In the first seven games of the season, the Sooners’ average margin of victory was 31 points. After their letdown, they won their contests by an average of 6.6 points. Given, the competition was certainly much steeper, but, as the fourth-best team in the nation, Oklahoma is an interesting team in this CFP.
The 5th-ranked scoring offense is led by senior Jalen Hurts. The Alabama transfer was the runner up in Heisman voting this year and has deserved every bit of praise. At 51, his total touchdowns responsible lead the entire nation. In addition, he amassed a total of 3,634 yards passing and 1,255 yards rushing. The 2016 SEC offensive player of the year was on another level this season. His favorite target is one of the top receiving prospects in the nation, CeeDee Lamb. Again, Lamb went for more than 1,000 yards and increased his touchdown total by 14. Should he declare, he could very well be a top-15 pick. LSU’s defense is not elite, so do not be surprised to see this ridiculous Oklahoma offense light it up.
Like their adversary, the defense is the weak spot of this team. However, it is worlds better than last year. They may be the 50th-ranked scoring defense in the nation, but they give up about 330 yards per game. In the Big XII, holding opponents under 500 yards is an achievement. I think that this matchup will feature each team facing the best team they’ve faced thus far. It’s going to be a high-scoring bloodbath, but I predict LSU to come out on top.
Autozone Liberty Bowl
Kansas State vs Navy
Back to the non-CFP games on the 2019 Big XII bowls slate, we have the Liberty Bowl. Kansas State takes on the Navy service academy. Kansas State posted an 8-4 record in 2019 in just their first season without legendary coach Bill Snyder. Their seven wins against FBS-level foes included the upset of Oklahoma in week seven. Aside from that matchup, they fell to every good team they faced. The Wildcats will have a chance to end on a high note against the always physical Navy Midshipmen.
Junior quarterback Skylar Thompson leads the offense. Thompson threw for a total of 2,191 yards and 12 touchdowns. In addition, his 402 yards and 10 scores were good for second on the team. Unfortunately, there are not too many athletes who stand out in this the 54th scoring offense in the nation. Ball State transfer running back James Gilbert was not quite able to replicate his sophomore year success. However, his 698 rushing yards and six scores led the team. I kind of feels like this team lacks an offensive identity. Look for them to struggle against a disciplined defense in Navy.
The Wildcats allowed more than 150 yards on the ground per game. If they can hold Navy to 150 rushing yards, they will be set. Unfortunately, this will not happen and I have Navy having their way with Kansas State in this contest. It’ll be an uninspiring end to a decent season, but I expect KSU to be able to bounce back and begin to contend again next year. This will be the first time the programs will meet.
There were three bowl matchups that I questioned when they were announced. This was certainly one of them. The Alamo Bowl will feature Texas and Utah. Perhaps we were all a bit premature when we declared that Texas was back. After another mediocre 7-5 season, doubts loom. It seemed like the Big XII blueblood was poised for a return after narrowing falling to LSU in week two, but they went on to lose to every other good team faced. The Longhorns also nearly fell to Kansas for the second time in four years.
In order to run a Tom Herman offense, one must have a quarterback that can throw and run. Sam Ehlinger has proven to be a solid quarterback after three seasons at the helm. Outside of a few questionable, game-ending mistakes, Ehlinger has proven that he is the man at UT. His 3,462 passing yards and 29 touchdowns pair nicely with his 590 yards rushing and six scores. Ehlinger’s favorite receiver is NFL-bound senior, Devin Duvernay. His status is uncertain for this game due to a shoulder injury, so the Longhorns may be without his 1,294 yards and eight touchdowns. He, along with Collin Johnson, paced the 18th-best scoring offense. Unfortunately for them, they have yet to face a defense like Utah’s.
No matter how solid the offense is, the defense lets Texas down. The nearly 29 points per game allowed stacks up as the 75th scoring defense. I get that they play in the offense-heavy Big XII, but allowing 446 yards per game is not ideal. Honestly, the Longhorns may show up more motivated than Utah because Utah deserved to get paired up with a better team. Motivation or not, I have the Utes in this matchup. The first contest between these two programs will go in Utah’s favor. They are just too good.
The final bowl on the 2019 Big XII bowls schedule features Baylor against Georgia in the New Year’s Six’s Sugar Bowl. The surprising 11-2 Baylor Bears lost to one team, twice. Amazingly enough, Baylor was not mentioned in the CFP discussion until the days leading up to their second matchup with Oklahoma. While it is true Baylor’s schedule was weaker, it still takes talent to play the way that they did.
All season, the leader of the offense was junior quarterback Charlie Brewer. His 2,950 passing yards and 20 touchdowns may be missed in this game due to injury. Enter: third-string quarterback, freshman Jacob Zeno. Zeno attempted a total of nine passes this year, all of which were during the Big XII title game. He went for 200 yards. The most impressive thing about this offense is that none of their guys are household names. Well, get to know senior Denzel Mims. At 945 receiving yards and 11 touchdowns, Mims will require Georgia to respect his presence. Mims did not suit up for the Big XII title game, so Zeno will get to play with one of the best receivers in the conference.
Not many teams can boast a 17th-ranked scoring offense and a 16th-ranked scoring defense. Baylor can. The Bears give up just over 19 points per game. In this conference, that’s impressive. This is probably why they won 11 games and have found themselves in this marquee matchup. Due to the fact that Georgia will be without tackle Andrew Thomas and stud running back D’Andre Swift, I will be siding with Baylor here. Truth be told, I was picking Baylor before this news hit, so my assertions are even stronger now.
2019 Big XII Bowls Results
This year’s Big XII was very top-heavy. They had a couple of great teams, then a mess of good-to-average teams. This is evident by the fact that their six bowls are easily the fewest of the Power 5 conferences. When the dust settles, the 2019 Big XII bowls mark will stand at a sad 2-4. With a win, Oklahoma State will be able to double up their losses by winning their 20th bowl game all-time. Iowa State will not be as lucky, as they will fall to 4-11. This will be Oklahoma’s 53rd bowl appearance, which is good for 5th in the nation. Kansas State sits at 9-12, while Texas is 2nd all-time with their 56th bowl game (29-24-2 all-time). Finally, Baylor sits at 13-11, so look for them to get a marquee win.
With two conferences to go, the SEC will be the penultimate article in this series.