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Game Day

Best and worst bowl matchups

12/5/2012

FIRST DOWN: 

Wondering which bowls to watch? Here’s a postseason primer …             

Best Big 12 bowl matchup: Oklahoma vs. Texas A&M, Cotton Bowl, Jan. 4. Don’t you just love family reunions? After a year apart, two old Big 12 South rivals are set to lock horns, Marquee quarterbacks? Johnny Football in one corner; Landry Jones in the other. Marquee coaches? Bob Stoops remains the gold standard, while A&M’s Kevin Sumlin is one of the top up-and-comers in the business.                

Best Big Ten bowl matchup (tie): Michigan State vs. TCU, Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, Dec. 29; Northwestern vs. Mississippi State, Gator Bowl, Jan. 1. Spartans-Frogs is sort of a poor man’s Notre Dame-’Bama, with two defenses that prefer to draw blood first and ask questions later. Jacksonville is groaning over an unsexy ’Cats-Bulldogs matchup, but this one promises substance over style — and the potential for a crazy, memorable finish.                

Worst Big 12 bowl matchup: Kansas State vs. Oregon, Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 3. The Wildcats were as nasty as they come, and that 11-1 record was no fluke. Here’s the problem: Oregon is a faster, stronger version of Baylor — the one Big 12 team that gave Bill Snyder’s Wildcats absolute fits. K-State prefers to feel an opponent out for a half or so, and then strike hard in the third quarter. The Ducks won’t allow that luxury; sleep on Oregon at the start, and you’ll be down 21-0 before you know what the hell hit you.                 

Worst Big Ten bowl matchup: Purdue vs. Oklahoma State, Heart of Dallas Bowl, Jan. 1. The Boilermakers are without a coach — Danny Hope got the boot after a 6-6 finish — while the Cowboys could also be without one by next month; word on the street is that Mike Gundy could be had for the SEC power willing to pay the right price.

 

THE BIG 8:

Ranking the best eight teams in the Big 12 and Big Ten, one through eight … 

TEAM (RECORD) / UP NEXT                 

1. Kansas State (11-1) / Fiesta Bowl, Jan. 3                 

2. Oklahoma (10-2) / Cotton Bowl, Jan. 4                 

3. Ohio State (12-0) / Season complete                

4. Michigan (8-4) / Outback Bowl, Jan. 1                 

5. Texas (8-4) / Alamo Bowl, Dec. 29               

6. Wisconsin (8-5) / Rose Bowl, Jan. 1                 

7. Nebraska (10-3) / Capital One Bowl, Jan. 1                 

8. Northwestern (9-3) / Gator Bowl, Jan. 1

 

ONE MAN’S RUNNING HEISMAN BALLOT: 

1. Collin Klein, QB, Kansas State: Accounted for three scores in a rout of Texas, including a 55-yard beauty through the air — and it was probably a case of too little, too late. Manziel has the better numbers, the signature win at Alabama, the highlights, and the ESPN hype machine cranking at full throttle.              

2. Johnny Manziel, QB, Texas A&M: That said, some of that hype is absolutely deserved — you name the traditional Heisman metric, Manziel’s dossier fits. Except for one: His age. No freshman has ever won the award, and there are enough longtime, crusty voters out there who may resist “Johnny Football” Fever, regardless of the numbers.                 

3. Manti Te’o, LB, Notre Dame: Other than Charles Woodson, no defensive player has won the Heisman, either. The big Hawaiian makes a damned good case, though, setting a new school record for interceptions by a linebacker (seven).

 

THIS WEEK’S COACH ON THE HOT SEAT: CHARLIE WEIS, KANSAS

In the big man’s defense, it’s early, and no one expected miracles in Year 1. But they didn’t expect a season to end with 11 straight losses, either. After nearly upsetting Oklahoma State and Texas in Lawrence, the Jayhawks folded the tent in mid-November. Losing to Iowa State and West Virginia by a combined score of 110-33 ended a 1-11 campaign with an alarming thud. Despite Weis’ rep as an offensive guru, Kansas didn’t throw a TD pass to a wide receiver all season. The buzz in Lawrence is that incoming signal-caller Jake Heaps, a transfer from BYU, is the real deal, but after pounding so much of the Crist Kool-Aid in the spring and summer, many Jayhawk fans are justifiably wary. Weary, too. CV

 

Sean Keeler is a columnist/blogger with FOX Sports Kansas City and FOX Sports. In 2011, the Iowa native was named one of the Top 10 sports columnists in the nation by the Associated Press Sports Editors. You can read him at FoxSportsKansasCity.com and at FoxSportsMidwest.com. You can follow him on Twitter (@seankeeler) and through his Tumblr blog: seankeeler.tumblr.com.

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