NCAA Recap: It's Bowl Season!
Jimmy Isbell gives us a look at the seven bowl matchups featuring Texas teams.
Bowl: Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Teams: No. 6 Baylor vs. No. 15 UCF
When: Wednesday, Jan. 1 at 8:30 p.m. ET
Where: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Arizona
The Baylor Bears finished the year off at No. 6 in the country and the Big-12 conference champion, but their goal was much higher. After their loss to Oklahoma State, the Bears were no longer able to receive a bid to the BCS national championship game. However, head coach Art Briles did not fret and defeated their season off with conference wins over TCU and Texas. They come to Arizona hoping to finish their season with a win against a hot Central Florida team who placed the AAC on the map this year with their 11-1 record, and a conference championship. At the helm of UCF’s offense, quarterback Blake Bortles has thrown for nearly 3,300 yards on the year. Two high-powered offenses should make for an alluring Fiesta Bowl.
Bowl: Valero Alamo Bowl
Teams: Texas vs. No. 10 Oregon
When: Monday, Dec. 30 at 6:45 p.m. ET
Where: Alamo Dome, San Antonio, Texas
As the BCS era comes to a close, it is only destiny which defines the matchup between these two. The last time these teams met in a bowl game was back in 2000 in the Holiday Bowl, where the Longhorns lost 35-30. Mack Brown’s Longhorns may receive the home crowd with the location, but the unranked Texas team sits as the underdog in this bout against the reckless speed of the Oregon Ducks. Led by Marcus Mariota, the Oregon Ducks will hope to score at will against a banged up Texas defense and possibly score their season average 46.8 points per game.
Bowl: Chick-fil-A Bowl
Teams: No. 21 Texas A&M vs. No. 24 Duke
When: Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 8:00 p.m. ET
Where: Georgia Dome, Georgia, Atlanta
This might be the last time we see Johnny Manziel in the maroon and white, but he is certain to go out with a bang to increase his draft stock. The Aggies posted the NCAA’s best offense with 538 yards per game, but the worst defense with 460 yards per game. Their opponent, Duke, just lost a game to the No. 1 Florida State team in the ACC championship, but do not count them out against A&M. The Blue Devils might keep the game close through the efforts of their defense in the first quarter (just as they did against Florida State), but Manziel and company will make the adjustments needed to pull away with the win.
Bowl: Heart of Dallas Bowl
Teams: North Texas vs. UNLV
When: Wednesday, Jan. 1 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Cotton Bowl stadium, Dallas, Texas
The Running Rebels have not been in a bowl game since the millennium year, but their 7-5 finish puts them into the Heart of Dallas Bowl against another recently successful North Texas team. The Mean Green ended their season allowing only 18.1 points per game, which ranks them No. 9 in the country. The Running Rebels are led by quarterback Caleb Herring who came off a career-day 336 total yards and six touchdowns. The Mean Green plans to stop Herring and the rest of the Rebels offense from repeating their performance in Dallas.
Bowl: AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Teams: Rice vs. Mississippi State
When: Tuesday, Dec. 31 at 4:00 p.m. ET
Where: Liberty Bowl stadium, Memphis, Tennessee
The Rice Owls will face an opponent in the Southeastern Conference on New Year’s Eve, but might not have the best chances of surviving the Bulldog passing attack. However, the Bulldogs snuck into this game after winning their last two in overtime against Arkansas and in-state rival Ole Miss, finishing their season at 6-6. The Owl defense is better at stopping the run, which will face well for the Bulldogs. The Owl offense will put up big numbers with quarterback Taylor McHargue’s last game as an Owl, so expect him to lead his team to victory. The 55th Battle for the Bell will be an interesting game to feast your eyes on this year.
Bowl: National University Holiday Bowl
Teams: Texas Tech vs. No. 14 Arizona State
When: Monday, Dec. 30 at 10:15 p.m. ET
Where: Qualcomm Stadium, San Diego, California
Last time the Red Raiders were in the Holiday Bowl, they shocked the country after beating the California Golden Bears, 45-31. They are set to face a good Arizona State team and after losing out their last five games of the season, the Red Raiders look to repeat their historical Holiday Bowl game. The Sun Devils will come to California seeking a win against the Raiders, especially after their shot at a Rose Bowl was quickly diminished after their loss to Stanford.
Bowl: BBVA Compass Bowl
Teams: Houston vs. Vanderbilt
When: Saturday, Jan. 4 at 1:00 p.m. ET
Where: Legion Field, Birmingham, Alabama
Houston will also face an up and coming SEC opponent in the Vanderbilt Commodores. The Commodores are lucky to travel to Alabama without facing their conference foe, Alabama Crimson Tide. Houston has had a few successful seasons since former quarterback Case Keenum left the program on a good note. They finished at 8-4 this season losing a few close games, and with the quarterback-receiver combo of John O’Korn and Deontay Greenberry. The Cougar’s pass attack will challenge the Commodore defense.
Jimmy Isbell is a special contributor to Dave Campbell's Texas Football and TexasFootball.com.