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Bowl Projections All Guess Work Before Saturday
December 04, 2013
Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

One more weekend of the college football season remains and if the next-to-last weekend taught us anything it was this: Anything is possible.

The Big 12 will stage its Championship Saturday in two locations – Stillwater and Waco. Oklahoma will face Oklahoma State in Bedlam while Texas visits Baylor. If the home teams win, the Cowboys and the Bears will each finish with 11-1 overall and 8-1 league records. Oklahoma State would have the head-to-head tiebreaker and would be the Big 12 team in the Fiesta Bowl.

But what about Baylor? If the Bears finish with an 11-1 record, could they earn a BCS at-large bid?

Brad Edwards, the BCS Analyst for ESPN, says that Baylor has a shot at either the Orange or the Sugar bowls. If Northern Illinois loses in Friday’s Mid-American Conference championship game, that would open an at-large spot. But if Northern Illinois is an at-large team, Baylor’s hopes would hinge on the Orange Bowl.

“I think that the Orange Bowl is worried about selling tickets and that will be the main reason for the teams they select,” Edwards said on a teleconference Wednesday.

The projections have Clemson (10-2) facing defending national champion Alabama (11-1) in the Orange Bowl. However, both teams lost their final regular-season games and Crimson Tide fans traveled to Miami for last year’s national championship game.

“The Orange Bowl is concerned about the Clemson fan base traveling and they’re also unsure about how many Alabama fans will want to come back to Miami for a game that’s not for the national title,” Edwards said.

Over the next few days, Edwards says that Baylor will need to convince bowl officials that ticket sales will not be an issue.

“It seems to me that Baylor doesn’t have that big a fan base,” Edwards said. “On the other hand, playing in a BCS game would be the biggest bowl game in the lifetime of the Baylor fans. How many fans would travel, how many tickets would they sell? I really don’t know. Being a small, private school would be a knock against Baylor.

“But if the Orange Bowl believes Baylor can sell enough tickets, that opens up that possibility.”

Baylor’s bowl destination could become much simpler depending on Saturday’s results. If Oklahoma defeats Oklahoma State, the Texas-Baylor game will decide the outright title. The winner would then become the Fiesta Bowl representative.

So any bowl projections/predictions are based on guess work and assumptions. Between now and the final 0:00 at the final game Saturday, anything could happen.


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