The College Football Notebook

November 11, 2010 7:13 AM

Big 12 Bowl Battle Heats Up

RyanTannehillHasTexasAMInMiddleOfBig12BowlFight.jpgThe race for bowl spots is heated and nowhere more so than in the Big 12. The conference champion will get an automatic trip to the Fiesta Bowl, but after that there's five teams angling for what amount to two halfway decent bids before the dropoff becomes severe. The main consolation prize in this conference is the Cotton Bowl, where an SEC opponent, usually from the Western Division awaits. This year that probably means a chance to take on an Arkansas or LSU, or even Alabama if the Tide lose to Auburn. A bid like that gives a nice opportunity to finish a season strong and it's anybody's guess who will land where right now.

Texas A&M's win over Oklahoma complicated things considerably. Prior to that, the conference outlook was shaping up in that Nebraska would play the winner of Oklahoma-Oklahoma State for the championship, with the two that missed going Cotton & Alamo respectively. As far as the championship goes, that's still holding true, but A&M's now in the mix for the Cotton spot, along with Baylor and Missouri. It might get really interesting for Nebraska if they lose the conference championship game and Cotton Bowl officials in Dallas wonder if the Cornhusker faithful will really come to Dallas for the second time in a month. It's a concern that any of the Texas-based teams wouldn't face, but it could trigger a Husker free-fall in bowl slotting and adds to the pressure they have to make it to the Fiesta with no questions asked.

For teams like Nebraska and Oklahoma, anything less than the Fiesta is going to be a disappointment and the way Oklahoma State is playing, at 8-1, they're probably feeling the same way. But in places like Waco, where Art Briles has led Baylor to a 6-3 record and a big game with OU still ahead, the Cotton Bowl would be a perfect showcase for the talents of Robert Griffin III. For Missouri, it would be a chance to show their win over Oklahoma was not a fluke. For Texas A&M, now 6-3, it would be huge vindication for Mike Sherman, who's been under increasing scrutiny in College Station. There's a lot on the line in the Big 12 the rest of this month and not just at the championship level.

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Dan Flaherty is the editor of the Sports Notebook Family, published through the Real Clear Sports Blog Network, offering daily commentary in college football ,game analysis in the NFL. and coverage of college basketball. He is the author of The Last New Year's, a book that revisits the historic high points of college football's New Year's Day bowl games.

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