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Ranking the Watchability of the Big 12’s Bowl Games in 2016

Mason Rudolph

Mason Rudolph

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The Big 12 as a whole took a tiny step forward during the 2015 bowl season by notching a 3-4 record, one win better than the conference’s ‘14 mark.

The quality of play in the league tumbled this year, evidenced by the fact that only six teams even qualified for a postseason trip. As a sign that things might get even worse for the Big 12 this postseason, the oddsmakers have installed five of the conference’s representatives as underdogs in their games.

Related: Ranking All 40 College Football Bowls for 2016 From Must-See to Must-Miss

Even though it could get ugly for the league, its bowl slate doesn’t lack for compelling matchups. Chief among them is a Sugar Bowl showcase.

Bowl Watchability Rankings by Power Five Conference: ACC I Big 12 I Big Ten I Pac-12 I SEC

Note: All times are ET.

1. Sugar Bowl – Oklahoma (10-2) vs. Auburn (8-4)

Jan. 2 – 8:30 p.m., ESPN

In the lone game feature a Big 12 favorite, the immovable object goes up against the unstoppable force and whatnot. According to the S&P+ efficiency rankings, the nation's No. 1 offense will take the field against the No. 7 defense on Jan. 2 in New Orleans. Of course, the outcome will likely come down to the matchup between OU's No. 57 defense and Auburn's No. 34 offense.

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2. Texas Bowl – Kansas State (8-4) vs. Texas A&M (8-4)

Dec. 28 – 9 p.m., ESPN

The Aggies' split from the Big 12 in 2012 probably feels like old news to plenty of fans outside the flyover states. Inside them, it's a different story, and a good bowl battle should fire up the pettiness this time of year. Trevor Knight could even get a chance to make one last start in this game.

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3. Alamo Bowl – Oklahoma State (9-3) vs. Colorado (10-3)

Dec. 29 – 9 p.m., ESPN

Another battle of former conference foes. Befitting the kind folks of Boulder, the animosity in Big 12 country for the Buffaloes doesn't burn all that hot. A better reason to watch: This marks CU's first bowl game since 2007. That’s a hell of a long wait.

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4. Russell Athletic Bowl – West Virginia (10-2) vs. Miami (8-4)

Dec. 28 – 5:30 p.m., ESPN

The fine folks at Russell Athletic have to be wondering what it will take to get something other than a clunker in their game. The last three contests have been decided by an average of 24 points. The three-point spread in favor of Miami suggests a tight one could finally be coming this year.

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5. Liberty Bowl – TCU (6-6) vs. Georgia (7-5)

Dec. 30 – 12 p.m., ESPN

Hard to imagine that a holiday trip to Memphis will do much to lift the spirits of two of the most disappointing programs in all of college football this year, so don’t expect quality football in this season’s edition of the Liberty Bowl. This game does pose an intriguing contrast in styles, though. It also gives Bulldogs head coach Kirby Smart a chance to build some goodwill after such a lackluster debut season.

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6. Cactus Bowl – Baylor (6-6) vs. Boise State (10-2)

Dec. 27 – 10:15 p.m., ESPN

This game sets up as a slaughter. Baylor’s coaches are all looking for work, and the team fell apart in the back half of the year. If that’s not bad enough, true freshman quarterback Zach Smith threw six interceptions in the team’s final three games of the year. The Broncos’ defense could have a field day.

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— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.