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Texas Longhorns Football: Big 12 Bowl Tie-Ins and Projections

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After completely falling apart last year in a 5-7 season that ended without a bowl for the first time in the Mack Brown era, much was made of Texas' sixth win of the season on Saturday. Although following the Longhorns' 52-20 dismantling of Texas Tech it will feel like quite a letdown if the team were to lose out and finish the season with just six wins, bowl-eligible Texas will be playing post-season football. 

It's time, then, to look at the Big 12 bowl picture and where Texas fits in.  With four games remaining, the possibilities for the Longhorns range from taking a 10-2 team to the Cotton Bowl, all the way to limping into the Pinstripe Bowl.  Below we break down the Big 12 standings, the remaining schedules, and Big 12 bowl tie-ins, before making various bowl projections for Texas and the rest of the Big 12.

Big 12 Standings and Remaining Schedule

Let's start with a look at the Big 12 standings and each team's remaining schedule:

Oklahoma State 9-0 6-0 @Tech, @ISU, OU
Oklahoma 8-1 5-1 @BU, ISU, @OSU
Kansas State 7-2 4-2 A&M, @TX, ISU
Texas 6-2 3-2 @MU, KSU, A&M, @BU
Texas A&M 5-4 3-3 @KSU, KU, TX
Baylor 5-3 2-3 @KU, OU, Tech, TX
Iowa State 5-4 2-4 OSU, @OU, @KSU
Texas Tech 5-4 2-4 OSU, @MU, @BU
Missouri 4-5 2-4 TX, Tech, n-KU
Kansas 2-7 0-6 BU, @A&M, n-MU

Heading into this week four Big 12 teams (Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, K-State, and Texas) are eligible and three more (A&M, Baylor, and Iowa State) sit one win away from bowl eligibility with five victories on the year. Although it's technically possible that all three could lose out, it's unfathomable that A&M or Baylor could lose to Kansas.  Iowa State's got the toughest road to six wins and could easily lose each of its final three contests.

More after the jump, including bowl tie-ins and projections.

Looking down the standings, Texas Tech looks like it may well miss a bowl game this year, as the Red Raiders need to win at least one on the road against Missouri and Baylor, and probably both considering their final home game is against Oklahoma State.  Missouri, meanwhile, looks likely to get to six wins provided they can take care of either Texas or Texas Tech at home and win the border war with Kansas. 

When it's all said and done, the Big 12 is likely to offer seven bowl-eligible teams, and could potentially have as many as eight teams finish with 6+ wins. 

Big 12 Bowl Tie-Ins for 2011

The Big 12 has seven bowl tie-ins for 2011, and of course the potential to send two teams to BCS Bowls should Oklahoma or Oklahoma State make the national championship game.  Below are each of the seven Big 12 bowl tie-ins, followed by the potential/likely opponents based on the standings at this point in the year.

                Bowl              Match Up Potential/Likely Opponents
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl

Big 12 Champion vs BCS

Oregon, Stanford, Boise State
AT&T Cotton Bowl

Big 12 #2  vs  SEC #2 or #3

Georgia, South Carolina, Arkansas
Valero Alamo Bowl

Big 12 #3  vs  Pac 12 #2

Arizona St., Southern Cal, Washington
Insight Bowl

Big 12 #4  vs  Big 10 #4

Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio State
Bridgeport Holiday Bowl

Big 12 #5  vs  Pac 12 #3

Arizona St., Southern Cal, Washington
Meinecke Car Care Bowl

Big 12 #6  vs  Pac 12 #6

Ohio State, Iowa, Illinois
New Era Pinstripe Bowl

Big 12 #7  vs  Big East #4

Rutgers, Louisville

Whether a Big 12 team will have to suffer the indignity of a bowl match up against the Big East #4 in New York City largely depends on whether the conference sends one or two teams to the BCS. If both Oklahoma schools wind up with BCS Bowl bids, the Big 12 won't send anyone to the Pinstrip Bowl unless eight teams wind up bowl eligible.

Projecting the Texas Longhorns Bowl Bid

With that, we can project where Texas is likely to play its bowl game based on its results across the remaining schedule.

If Texas wins out...  Four wins to close the season would net Texas a 10-2 overall record and third-place finish in the conference, barring two more losses by OU.  In that case the Longhorns would be Cotton Bowl bound if both Oklahoma schools went to BCS Bowls, and headed to San Antonio to play in the Alamo Bowl should the Big 12 send just one team to the BCS. There is also the possibility that the Fiesta Bowl chooses 10-2 Texas over 10-2 Oklahoma. The Sooners would be coming off a loss to Oklahoma State and their fan base may have Fiesta Bowl fatigue; on the flipside, Texas would be surging behind six straight wins, with an enthusiastic and re-energized fan base eager to travel.

If Texas goes 3-1...  Three more wins would give Texas a 6-3 record in the Big 12 standings, which would be good for either third or fourth, depending on who Texas lost to and how K-State and A&M closed out their seasons. If the Longhorns lone loss came against either the Wildcats or Aggies, Texas would could head either to the Alamo Bowl or Insight Bowl.  If the Longhorns loss came against Baylor or Missouri, Texas could wind up in either the Cotton Bowl or Alamo Bowl.

If Texas goes 2-2...  Should the Longhorns split their remaining four games, they'd likely receive either an Insight Bowl or Holiday Bowl bid.

If Texas goes 1-3...  Losing three out of four would send the Longhorns to either the Holiday or Car Care Bowl.

If Texas goes 0-4...  Although there's an outside chance four straight losses could send Texas to the Pinstripe Bowl, the most likely destination is the Car Care Bowl, which still might select a slumping Texas team over, say, 7-5 Baylor or 6-6 Missouri.

Big 12 Final Standings and Bowl Projections

Keeping in mind that the bowls get to choose the teams they want and aren't obligated to take the teams as they finish in the standings, here are my projections for the final Big 12 standings and bowl placements:

Oklahoma State (12-0, 9-0) -- BCS Title Game

Oklahoma (10-2, 7-2) -- Fiesta Bowl

Texas (9-3, 6-3) -- Cotton Bowl

Kansas State (9-3, 6-3) -- Insight Bowl

Texas A&M (7-5, 5-4) -- Alamo Bowl

Baylor (7-5, 4-5) -- Car Care Bowl

Missouri (6-5, 4-5) -- Holiday Bowl