COLUMBIA — Time to crumple your old predictions.
Over the course of a few hours Friday in Ames, Iowa, Oklahoma State’s shocking loss at the hands of Iowa State changed the bowl picture for the entire Big 12 dramatically.
Oklahoma State now needs the stars to align (LSU loses to Arkansas on Friday, Alabama loses to Auburn on Saturday, and then Arkansas loses to Georgia in the SEC Championship on Dec. 3) to back its way into the National Championship.
That makes it increasingly unlikely that the Big 12 will have two teams in BCS bowl games. If Oklahoma State beats Oklahoma, the Sooners would be left with three losses, making them unlikely candidates for an at-large berth.
If the Sooners win, they take the Big 12’s automatic bid to the Fiesta Bowl, and the Cowboys are left at 10-2 and wondering what happened to their dream season. Chances are that a BCS bowl wouldn’t take an Oklahoma State team that had lost its final two games of the season.
If it finishes 10-2, Kansas State could be a dark horse but would likely be passed over for a more popular and exciting two-loss team such as Oregon or Michigan.
If indeed the Big 12 sends its champion to the Fiesta Bowl and everyone else is left out of the BCS, it could make for an interesting scenario for Missouri.
Why, you ask? The Tigers' BCS hopes went out the window months ago.
The Big 12 has seven bowl tie-ins including the Fiesta Bowl. Currently the league has eight bowl eligible teams. Texas Tech could make it nine with a win over Baylor on Saturday. What if Missouri is that extra team?
Before we get into what happens to that extra team (and the chances that it could be the Tigers), let’s refresh our memories on the selection order and what still holds true from last week.
Tostitos Fiesta Bowl
Jan. 2, Glendale, Ariz.
AT&T Cotton Bowl
Jan. 6, Arlington, Texas
Valero Alamo Bowl
Dec. 29, San Antonio
Dec. 30, Tempe, Ariz.
Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl
Dec. 28, San Diego
Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas
Dec. 31, Houston
New Era Pinstripe Bowl
Dec. 30, Bronx, N.Y.
We established last week that Missouri would not be selected for the Fiesta, Cotton or Alamo bowls. It’s safe now to add the Insight Bowl to that list. There is no way the Tigers would get selected over Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Oklahoma or Baylor.
That leaves four (or potentially five if Texas Tech springs the upset) teams for three bowls — Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri and Iowa State. Traditionally Texas and Texas A&M, because of their massive fan bases, have been selected ahead of Missouri regardless of the teams' records. Remember, bowl selection generally has less to do with standings and more to do with how well a team's fan base travels, the excitement level it brings on the field and the potential match-up.
As of right now, it’s hard to imagine Iowa State getting selected ahead of Missouri. But if the Cyclones surprise again and beat either Oklahoma or Kansas State in one of their final two games, that’s the kind of momentum that makes people want to buy plane tickets and fly to bowl games. And thus, gets Iowa State picked over Missouri.
So what happens to the extra team? Are they left behind with no bowl to keep them busy?
There are a couple of scenarios that have been floated out there. Here they are and why they are possibilities for that leftover Big 12 team:
Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl
Dec. 31, San Francisco
The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl is supposed to pit the No. 6 Pac-12 selection against a bowl-eligible Army team. Seems like a good match-up
Except Army is 3-8.
Not to worry though, the Fight Hunger Bowl has a backup plan. The No. 9 selection from the ACC will fill in for a non-bowl-eligible Army.
Except that there won’t be nine bowl-eligible ACC teams.
Enter that extra Big 12 team to save the day.
Jan. 2, Dallas
Conference USA sends its last pick to the TicketCity bowl. If Houston can finish its undefeated regular season, it’s headed to a BCS bowl, pushing everyone else up in Conference USA up the ladder one rung and potentially leaving the bottom rung empty.
The Missouri athletics department said it has been in contact with the TicketCity Bowl, so this could be a real possibility if the Tigers are the leftover team.
The TicketCity Bowl would pit Missouri against the seventh choice from the Big Ten, which could mean a rekindling of the Arch Rivalry with Illinois.
Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl
Dec. 30, Nashville, Tenn.
Autozone Liberty Bowl
Dec. 31, Memphis, Tenn.
BBVA Compass Bowl
Jan. 7, Birmingham, Ala.
The SEC has nine bowl tie-ins, but since the league is almost guaranteed to be sending two teams to the BCS this season, it would need 10 bowl eligible teams to fill its slots.
Why not an early entrance for Missouri into the SEC picture?
Currently the league has seven bowl-eligible teams, but Mississippi State, Tennessee and Vanderbilt are all one win away, and all have winnable regular season finales. Mississippi State takes on hapless rival Ole Miss (2-9), Tennessee faces Kentucky (4-7), and Vanderbilt draws the toughest test, heading to 6-5 Wake Forest.
If somehow all three of these teams were to lose (unlikely), then all three of these spots would conceivably be open. The Liberty Bowl has a backup agreement with the Big East, and the Compass Bowl has a backup agreement with the Sun Belt, so those could come into play as well, but these are names to keep in the back of your head as bowl season comes closer — just in case.