Berry’s college football predictions: A New Year’s Six bowl is unlikely for OU

Berry’s college football predictions: A New Year’s Six bowl is unlikely for OU

OU is a long shot for a New Year’s Six bowl, but it’s not impossible. The Sooners would need to finish in the top 10 or 11 of the playoff committee rankings.

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

| Nov 21, 2023, 11:00am CST

Berry Tramel

By Berry Tramel

Nov 21, 2023, 11:00am CST

The Big 12 has eight bowl contracts for 2023. The Big 12 has eight bowl-eligible teams.

But three more Big 12 teams could get eligible this season, and two of them will be in the state of Oklahoma: Texas Christian, which plays at OU (11 a.m. Friday), and Brigham Young, which plays at OSU (2:30 p.m. Saturday). The other hopeful is Central Florida, which hosts Houston on Saturday.

OU and OSU aren’t worried about bowl eligibility. They’ve got plenty of wins and both have been too enamored with making it to Arlington, Texas, for the Big 12 Championship Game.

OSU is in Arlington with a victory, unless the Big 12 interprets its ridiculously-written rules differently than perceived. Which always is possible.

OU needs a victory and an OSU loss, unless Texas also loses (to Texas Tech), in which case the Sooners also would need a Kansas State loss (to Iowa State). Again, with the Big 12 caveat.

Got all that? Don’t worry, we’ll keep you updated.

But let’s jump ahead to the bowl situation for the Big 12.

Here are some things we know, some things we suspect and some things we’re just guessing:

The Big 12 has no contract with the Sugar Bowl this year since New Orleans is hosting a College Football Playoff game. This means the Big 12 champion likely is headed to the Cotton Bowl or Fiesta Bowl, unless Texas makes the CFP.

OU is a long shot to be selected for a New Year’s Six bowl, but it’s not impossible. The Sooners would need to finish in the top 10 or 11 of the playoff committee rankings. The Sooners are expected to be ranked 13th or 14th in the rankings to be released Tuesday night. OU would need some help — like Ole Miss losing the Egg Bowl to Mississippi State or Missouri losing to Arkansas or Penn State losing to Michigan State. Or some combination of those results.

The Alamo Bowl in San Antonio likely would want the Sooners back. They were in San Antonio two years ago, when Bob Stoops was interim coach in the wake of Lincoln Riley taking the Southern Cal job. But that was OU’s first Alamo Bowl appearance, and San Antone wouldn’t mind the Sooners for the second time in three years. The Alamo twice has had Texas two years in a row.

San Antonio would salivate over an OU-USC game, but no way will the Trojans agree to that, and it’s not like the going-out-of-business Pac-12 has any leverage. OU-Oregon State, perhaps?

But two things to consider: 1) OSU hasn’t been to the Alamo Bowl since the 2016 game against Colorado, and 2) Kansas State hasn’t been to the Alamo Bowl since the 2015 game against UCLA.

Texas likely will be picked for a New Year’s Six bowl if it beats Tech but loses the Big 12 title game.

The Pop-Tarts Bowl in Orlando had OU last season and OSU in both 2020 and 2017. But the Orlando game never has had Kansas State, which traditionally travels well. Seems like KSU in Orlando makes a lot of sense.

The Texas Bowl in Houston has never had OU, so if somehow the Sooners fall in the bowl pickings, there’s no chance Houston passes. But OU will likely get scooped up by the Alamo, with KSU in Orlando and thus OSU in Houston.

The Cowboys played at the University of Houston last week and drew a big contingent, most of which are southeast Texans.

Kansas, Iowa State and West Virginia never have played in the Texas Bowl. But the Cyclones figure to be 6-6, and WVU fans have to be tired of traveling to Texas. So maybe Kansas? The Jayhawks figure to finish 8-4, and they traveled like crazy to the Liberty Bowl a year ago.

The Liberty Bowl in Memphis seems natural for West Virginia, which doesn’t have access to many bowls east of the Mississippi River. The Liberty is east of the mighty Mississipp, if only only by a few miles.

The Guaranteed Rate Bowl in Phoenix will have some options next year, with four Pac-12 members jumping conferences. But until then, geography is no big deal. The Guaranteed Rate would jump at Kansas, though Texas Tech is an option.

The Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth might want Iowa State, if Tech is not available.

The Independence Bowl in Shreveport might actually have a decision to make, perhaps between Central Florida and Iowa State.

With 41 bowl games, 82 slots are available. As of now, 68 teams have reached the needed six wins. Twenty-four teams are 5-6. So even if not every eligible Big 12 team has a Big 12 bowl lined up, every eligible Big 12 team is likely to make the post-season.

Let’s get to the predictions:

Last week: 37-18. Season: 457-146.

Texas Christian at Oklahoma: Sooners 29-26. What is it with OU quarterback concussions and TCU? Baker Mayfield suffered a concussion against the Horned Frogs in 2015 and missed the second half. Dillon Gabriel suffered a concussion against the Frogs last October and missed 2½ quarters. Now Gabriel has suffered an apparent concussion last week against UCF and might miss the TCU game.

Oklahoma State at Brigham Young: Cowboys 32-24. BYU has been abysmal in its last three road games, but this OSU team is wacky enough to let the Cougars hang around.

Iowa State at Kansas State: Wildcats 27-17. ISU made a remarkable turnaround after losing to Ohio U., but the Cyclones seem destined for 6-6.

Texas Tech at Texas: Longhorns 24-23. Texas’ offense just isn’t clicking, so expect the Red Raiders to make it close.

West Virginia at Baylor: Mountaineers 35-27. WVU could check in with an 8-4 record, which would be quite good for a team picked last in the Big 12.

Houston at Central Florida: Knights 51-17. UCF is peaking too late but probably is in the upper half of the Big 12 right now in terms of quality.

Kansas at Cincinnati: Bearcats 27-20. Big 12 upset special. KU has stood tall for the longest of times but might be about out of gas.

Florida State at Florida: Gators 23-20. National upset special. Florida showed life last week in almost upsetting Missouri, and now FSU has lost quarterback Jordan Travis. The Gators need this game for bowl eligibility and would like nothing more than to spoil the Seminoles’ national title hopes.

Alabama at Auburn: Crimson Tide 40-14. Auburn lost to New Mexico State last week. Auburn might just boot out Hugh Freeze and hire Jerry Kill, whose Aggies are 9-3 overall after winning at Auburn.

Kentucky at Louisville: Cardinals 29-17. Can the Wildcats end Louisville’s magical run to a 10-1 season? Probably not.

Ole Miss at Mississippi State: Rebels 35-22. You can change coaches, but what the Bulldogs needed was to change offenses.

Missouri at Arkansas: Tigers 27-12. Will Mizzou become a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for OU? Unclear. Arkansas has moved into that role with Missouri, and OU’s other potential annual Southeastern Conference opponents (Texas, with Texas A&M, and Florida, with Florida State), already have rivals set.

Texas A&M at Louisiana State: Tigers 41-30. LSU quarterback Jayden Daniels probably deserves the Heisman Trophy. His passer rating of 208.3 leads the nation by a wide margin.

Clemson at South Carolina: Tigers 35-20. This could be Spencer Rattler’s final college game. The former OU quarterback has accepted a Senior Bowl invitation, and without a victory over Clemson, the Gamecocks won’t be bowl eligible.

Georgia at Georgia Tech: Bulldogs 48-16. Clean Old Fashioned Hate, they call this rivalry. But hate might be replaced by apathy. Georgia has won the last five meetings by an average score of 43-10.

Vanderbilt at Tennessee: Volunteers 44-7. I know it seems like ancient history, but the Commodores won three straight in the series from 2016-18.

Ohio State at Michigan: Wolverines 24-20. Wonder if the Big Ten will change the date of this rivalry, since it looks like the Buckeyes and Wolverines could be colliding in frequent Big Ten Championship Games, creating back-to-back scenarios.

Iowa at Nebraska: Hawkeyes 13-11. The Cornhuskers need a victory to be bowl eligible, but Iowa’s defense vs. Nebraska’s offense is a mismatch of epic proportions.

Northwestern at Illinois: Illini 21-19. Northwestern somehow is bowl eligible at 6-5; Illinois can get there with a victory over the upstate Wildcats.

Wisconsin at Minnesota: Gophers 18-14. Minnesota needs a win to join Wisconsin as bowl eligible. 

Maryland at Rutgers: Terrapins 25-15. The Big Ten’s annual East Coast game.

Penn State at Michigan State: Nittany Lions 26-6. A Friday night game on Peacock. I’ll probably pass.

Indiana at Purdue: Boilermakers 28-27. No bowl eligibility on the line. The Indiana schools are the Big Ten’s two last-place teams.

Oregon State at Oregon: Ducks 42-32. If Oregon loses, Arizona can make the Pac-12 title game.

Washington at Washington State: Huskies 38-22. Hey, the schools announced an agreement to keep the Apple Cup alive through 2028, even with UW headed to the Big Ten. Take heart, Bedlam fans.

Arizona at Arizona State: Wildcats 49-22. Jedd Fisch should be a candidate for national coach of the year for what he’s done at ‘Zona.

Colorado at Utah: Utes 33-20. Utah quarterback Cam Rising announced he’ll return for a seventh year in 2024. And remember, the Utes come to Stillwater next year.

Notre Dame at Stanford: Fighting Irish 29-16. Next year, Notre Dame can count this as one of their five required Atlantic Coast Conference games.

California at UCLA: Bruins 30-20. Maybe those reports for the Bruins firing Chip Kelly were premature. UCLA is 7-4 and should get to 8-4 after this game.

North Carolina at North Carolina State: Tar Heels 34-24. If the Wolfpack wins, the 14-team ACC Conference could have as few as four teams with a winning conference record.

Miami at Boston College: Hurricanes 28-20. Can you believe it’s been 39 years since Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary vs. Miami on Thanksgiving Friday 1984.

Pittsburgh at Duke: Blue Devils 23-17. Will this be Mike Elko’s final game at Duke? Texas A&M could come calling.

Wake Forest at Syracuse: Orange 21-14. The loser gets last place in the ACC, a fate that already has cost ‘Cuse coach Dino Babers his job.

Virginia Tech at Virginia: Hokies 24-20. Among those teams with a winning ACC record or a shot at it? Virginia Tech (4-3) and Georgia Tech (5-3) — teams that drew little preseason respect.

Tulsa at East Carolina: Pirates 31-28. The loser is relegated to last place in the American Conference.

Texas-San Antonio at Tulane: Green Wave 26-24. The American has three undefeated teams in conference play, including these two, so the winner makes the title game. The loser needs SMU to lose to Navy.

Navy at Southern Methodist: Mustang 25-17. The Midshipmen are playing better but aren’t likely to score big.

Memphis at Temple: Tigers 44-17. Owls are 3-8. Their next game after this is August 31 on Owen Field.

Florida Atlantic at Rice: Owls of Rice 27-24. Rice needs the win to be bowl eligible. FAU, 4-7, is out of the running.

Alabama-Birmingham at North Texas: Eagles 31-28. A couple of 4-7 teams. Man, the American is mediocre in the middle of the league.

Charlotte at South Florida: Bulls 45-35. See what I mean?

San Jose State at Nevada-Las Vegas: Rebels 33-23. With a win, UNLV secures a spot in the Mountain West Conference title game, against the Air Force-Boise State winner. Lose, and the Rebs fall into a tie with San Jose State and the Air Force-Boise State winner. A three-way tie that could down to computer rankings. Ouch.

Air Force at Boise State: Broncos 19-17. UNLV beat Air Force but didn’t play Boise State. Air Force and Boise State both beat San Jose State. 

Fresno State at San Diego State: Bulldogs 41-17. Goodbye to the retiring Brady Hoke, who did a fine job in two stints with the Aztecs, and in between was Jim Harbaugh’s predecessor at Michigan.

Colorado State at Hawaii: Rams 32-20. CSU needs the victory to be bowl eligible.

Wyoming at Nevada: Cowboys 28-19. The Mountain West must be a pretty good league if Wyoming is in a tie for fifth place.

Utah State at New Mexico: Aggies 35-15. Utah State needs the win for bowl eligibility.

James Madison at Coastal Carolina: Dukes 31-28. If Coastal pulls the upset, the Chanticleers qualify for the Sun Belt title game.

Georgia Southern at Appalachian State: Mountaineers 31-21. App State makes the Sun Belt title game with a win, provided Coastal loses to JMU.

Troy at Southern Mississippi: Trojans 29-7. Troy has clinched the Sun Belt West title.

South Alabama at Texas State: Jaguars 38-28. The conqueror of OSU (South Alabama) vs. the conqueror of Baylor (Texas State). Turns out, South Alabama’s accomplishment was more impressive.

Georgia State at Old Dominion: Monarchs 22-21. I picked ODU because I could remember its nickname more easily than Georgia State’s (Panthers).

Louisiana-Monroe at Louisiana: Ragin’ Cajuns 25-20. I remember when Southwestern Louisiana started the campaign to become Louisiana-Lafayette, then the University of Louisiana. I remember when Northeast Louisiana started the campaign to become Louisiana-Monroe. But where can ULM go from there? Louisiana A&M?

Arkansas State at Marshall: Red Wolves 32-21. A team that opened the season with a 73-0 loss (at OU) last week beat a decent Sun Belt opponent (Texas State) 77-31. Hats off to coach Butch Jones, who got Arkansas State bowl eligible.

Connecticut at Massachusetts: Minutemen 23-17. I’m giving this one to UMass based strictly on the nickname. Give me the American Revolution over a dog breed any day.

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Berry Tramel is a 45-year veteran of Oklahoma journalism, having spent 13 years at the Norman Transcript and 32 years at The Oklahoman. He has been named Oklahoma Sportswriter of the Year by the National Sports Media Association. Born and raised in Norman, Tramel grew up reading four newspapers a day and began his career at age 17. His first assignment was the Lexington-Elmore City high school football game, and he’s enjoyed the journey ever since, having covered NBA Finals and Rose Bowls and everything in between. Tramel and his wife, Tricia, were married in 1980 and live in Norman near their daughter, son-in-law and three granddaughters. Tramel can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at [email protected].

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