As soon as everything seemed to be falling into place, it all changed.
Kansas State’s 35-7 upset against then-No. 1 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Conference title game Saturday muddied the bowl picture, but the bowl bids are set at last and the Big 12 is well represented.
Eight Big 12 teams earned bowl berths, including two Bowl Championship Series spots. Things look a lot different than they did before Saturday’s shakeup, but there are plenty of interesting matchups.
Sugar Bowl, New Orleans
Oklahoma vs. Louisiana State
7 p.m. Jan. 4, ABC
Oklahoma has been slotted for the national championship game since the season began, but Saturday almost changed that. The Sooners survived their upset loss to Kansas State, earning a chance at redemption.
Oklahoma and LSU edged out Southern California, which is ranked first in the Associated Press and coaches’ Top 25 polls. LSU is coming off a 34-13 win against Georgia in the Southeastern Conference championship game.
The game features the country’s best defenses. Oklahoma leads the nation, allowing 255.6 yards per game to LSU’s 259.5. The Tigers have the top scoring defense at 10.8 points per game compared to Oklahoma’s third-best 14.9.
Fiesta Bowl, Tempe, Ariz.
Kansas State vs. Ohio State
7 p.m. Jan. 2, ABC
The Wildcats rolled into a BCS bowl after winning their last six regular-season games and beating mighty Oklahoma in the Big 12 championship game. Kansas State most recently lost Oct. 11, 38-34 to Oklahoma State, capping a three-game losing streak.
The Wildcats get defending national champion Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl. If Kansas State plays as it did against Oklahoma, it is tough to beat. Quarterback Ell Roberson and running back Darren Sproles are a tough duo to stop, and Kansas State’s defense is dominant when it is at its best.
Cotton Bowl, Dallas
Oklahoma State vs. Mississippi
1 p.m. Jan. 2, FOX
Expect nothing short of a shootout when these teams get together. The Cowboys’ biggest challenge will be trying to outscore Ole Miss and Heisman candidate quarterback Eli Manning. Oklahoma State boasts three big-time offensive threats in running back Tatum Bell, receiver Rashaun Woods and quarterback Josh Fields.
The Cowboys are one of the few teams whose bowl destination didn’t change when Kansas State’s title game win bumped everyone down a slot. The Cotton Bowl passed on perennial representative Texas to take new blood with Oklahoma State.
Holiday Bowl, San Diego
Texas vs. Washington State
7 p.m. Dec. 30, ESPN
Texas was the big loser in Kansas State’s upset of Oklahoma. The Longhorns slipped from a BCS bowl, and instead of stopping in Tempe for the Fiesta Bowl, Texas will head farther west.
Washington State had an outside shot at a BCS bowl until it lost its regular-season finale to rival Washington. The Huskies beat the Cougars 27-19 and sent them packing for San Diego.
The Cougars depend on quarterback Matt Kegel and the passing attack. Texas’ offense counters with freshman quarterback Vincent Young and running back Cedric Benson.
Alamo Bowl, San Antonio
Nebraska vs. Michigan State
8 p.m. Dec. 29, ESPN
Despite the firing of coach Frank Solich, Nebraska looked poised for a trip out west to the Holiday Bowl. Of course, Kansas State messed that up, and the Cornhuskers slid to the Alamo Bowl. Former defensive coordinator Bo Pelini will be the interim coach for the Cornhuskers in their NCAA-record 35th straight bowl appearance.
The Spartans boast quarterback Jeff Smoker, who will lead Michigan State’s passing attack against Nebraska’s vaunted Blackshirt defense, including safety Josh Bullocks. Bullocks leads the nation with 10 interceptions.
Independence Bowl, Shreveport, La.
Missouri vs. Arkansas
6:30 p.m. Dec. 31, ESPN
Although they are in bordering states, the Tigers and Razorbacks haven’t hooked up since 1963, which makes this an attractive matchup. The Tigers won the most recent meeting 7-6 in Little Rock, Ark.
Missouri, which hasn’t been to a bowl game since 1998, should be able to run the ball against Arkansas, but the Tigers could have a hard time stopping quarterback Matt Jones. Jones and Brad Smith, two of the nation’s best running quarterbacks, will certainly keep things interesting.
Houston Bowl, Houston
Texas Tech vs. Navy
3:30 p.m. Dec. 30, ESPN
One would be hard-pressed to find two more contrasting styles than these two teams represent. Quarterback B.J. Symons and pass-happy Texas Tech lead the nation in passing yards per game. Running back Kyle Eckel and quarterback Craig Candeto lead Navy’s option offense that leads the nation in rushing yards per game.
The Midshipmen come in riding high after a 34-6 win against Army on Saturday. The Red Raiders lost their last two regular-season games against Texas and Oklahoma.
Tangerine Bowl, Orlando
Kansas vs. North Carolina State
4:30 p.m. Dec. 22, ESPN
As if Jayhawks fans needed more motivation to attend the school’s first bowl game since 1995, Athletic Director Lew Perkins announced Wednesday that the school will give free tickets to any students who make the trip.
On the field, Kansas faces the difficult task of slowing down the Wolfpack’s high-powered offense, which features talented quarterback Philip Rivers. The Jayhawks have an impressive quarterback, Bill Whittemore, who has more than 2,500 yards of offense despite missing three games with a right shoulder injury.