December 29, 2007

Fritch's Big 12 Bowl Tour: Part 2

For just the third time in the last eight years, no Big 12 Conference team will play for the national title. But for the first time since 2005, the league could finish with at least one team in the Top 5 as third-ranked Oklahoma seeks its fourth 12-win season in six years. D. Scott Fritchen breaks down the bowl season's final four games that involve Big 12 teams.


No. 7 Missouri (11-2) vs. No. 25 Arkansas (8-4)

Tuesday, Jan. 1 (FOX, 10:30 a.m. CST) • Dallas

Key wins

Key losses


Ill, Texas Tech, v. Kan

at Okla, at Colo, v. Okla


S. Car, at LSU

at Ala, Auburn, at Tenn

No problem finding storylines here. The teams? Missouri, the Big 12 North champions and the only school in the nation with two wins over teams playing in the five BCS bowl games (Illinois and Kansas), will make its first appearance in a New Year's Day bowl since 1970. But the Tigers, who suffered a 38-17 loss to No. 9 Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship game, must steer away from any woe-is-us letdown following their BCS snub. Arkansas capped its season with arguably the game of the year in a 50-48 three-overtime thriller at No. 1 LSU. The stars? A pair of Heisman finalists will meet as ace Missouri QB Chase Daniel shares the stage with explosive Arkansas running back Darren McFadden in Dallas. The coaches? Gary Pinkel, who touts the first 11-win season in Missouri history, is tied with Don Faurot for third in school history with four bowl appearances with the Tigers. Interim coach Reggie Herring gets the headset for a coaching staff that is splitting time between duties after Houston Nutt went to Mississippi. That reeks of trouble. As for the history? Interestingly, the schools from bordering states will meet for just the fifth time with each team winning two games apiece. Arkansas won the last meeting 27-14 in the 2003 Independence Bowl, its last bowl victory. Missouri is 5-2 in bowls against the SEC. Missouri was the only team in the nation to score 30 points in all 12 regular-season games.

A Missouri win means: The Tigers win two more games than any other team in school history and show otherworld-type resiliency after they were the victim of a cruel BCS joke. Note to Kansas: Beware.

An Arkansas win means: Herring is a magic man in keeping the Razorbacks focused after Nutt's departure and they finish winning six of thelr last seven games.

Who's hot for Missouri: QB Chase Daniel, the second-team All-American and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year who set MU records for passing yards (4,170 - No. 5 nationally), TDs (33) and total offense (4,454 - No. 4 nationally). He's completed 74.0 percent of his passes for 1,637 yards and 15 TDs and 2 INTs in his last five games.

Who's hot for Arkansas: RB Darren McFadden, the Walter Camp Player of the Year, has rushed for a school-record 1,725 yards with 15 rushing TDs, 1 receiving TD and 4 passing TDs. McFadden has 4,485 career rushing yards and needs just 74 to pass Kevin Faulk (LSU) for No. 2 in SEC history. McFadden's 2,172 all-purpose yards this season is an SEC single-season record.

D. Scott's stat: 0 - Opponents not named Oklahoma that have held Missouri to fewer than 36 points this season.

D. Scott's pick: Missouri 42, Arkansas 20


Texas Tech (8-4) vs. No. 21 Virginia (9-3)

Tuesday, Jan. 1 (CBS, 12 p.m. CST) • Jacksonville, Fla.

Key wins

Key losses


Texas A&M, Okla

at Okla St, at Mizzou, at Texas


Pitt, Wake, at Mia

at Wyo, at NC St, Va Tech

For Texas Tech and Virginia, well, it's been a while. The teams meet for the first time with the Red Raiders seeking their first January win in 54 years while the Cavaliers look for their first-ever win in January and are 0-5 in bowls in Florida. A 34-27 upset win at home against No. 3 Oklahoma gave the Red Raiders a needed lift after they posted just one victory in the previous four weeks leading to the regular season finale. This will be their eighth straight bowl appearance and while it might be hard to top the Red Raiders' biggest comeback in bowl history last season in which they scored 35 unanswered points in a 44-41 overtime win against Minnesota, QB Graham Harrell (5,298 passing yards) should provide some fireworks. He needs just 252 yards in this outing to finish with the second-most passing yards for a season in NCAA history and the Red Raiders rank No. 1 in passing (475.6) and No. 2 in total yards (537.0). Biletnikoff Award winner Michael Crabtree, the nation's top freshman, has caught 21 TDs and with two more scoring tosses from Harrell will tie for the third-most prolific scoring combo ever in Big 12 history. ACC Coach of the Year Al Groh has the Cavaliers back in the bowl business in a big way. The Cavaliers, who stayed at home last year, were one of eight teams to improve their record by at least four wins this season. They have won a nation-leading six games by six or fewer points, including an NCAA-record five games by one or two points. The Cavaliers boast the 17th-best defense (323.4) in the nation and have given up just 30 points once in a 33-21 loss at home to Virginia Tech to end the regular season, which kept the Cavaliers out of the ACC Championship game.

A Texas Tech win means: The Red Raiders capture their first nine-win season since 2005 and the Big 12's lone team to post a winning record in every season since the league's inception earns its fifth bowl win in the last six years.

A Virginia win means: The Cavaliers win 10 games to equal their most wins in school history (1989) by claiming their first win in a January bowl.

Who's hot for Texas Tech: WR Michael Crabtree, who not only leads the nation in receptions (125) and receiving yards (1,861), but debunks the dink-and-dunk myth as 86 of his catches have resulted in first downs or TDs and 55 have gone for 15 or more yards. Eight of his 12 receptions went for first downs in his last game against Oklahoma.

Who's hot for Virginia: DE Chris Long (son of Howie Long), who won the Ted Hendricks Award and was named the ACC Defensive Player of the Year. He had his jersey retired prior to his final home game against Virginia Tech, then went out and had two sacks. He ranks No. 3 nationally with a school record-tying 14.0 sacks and has 19.0 tackles for a loss with seven pass break-ups and one interception.

D. Scott's stat: 46.3 - On average, pass attempts between sacks for Harrell, who has been sacked just 15 times in 694 pass attempts, second-best in the nation.

D. Scott's pick: Texas Tech 45, Virginia 27


No. 3 Oklahoma (11-2) vs. No. 11 West Virginia (10-2)

Wednesday, Jan. 2 (FOX, 7 CST) • Glendale, Ariz.

Key wins

Key losses


Mia, Texas, Mizzou, v. Mizzou

at Colo, at Texas Tech


at Rut, Lville, Conn

at USF, Pitt

Oklahoma and West Virginia enter carrying a school-record streak of bowl appearances. It will be the ninth straight bowl under Bob Stoops. It will be the sixth straight one for the Mountaineers. But that's where the similarities stop. The Sooners appear to be playing better football than anyone in the country. The Mountaineers remain muddled in turmoil. Think about it: With the national championship game in its sites, West Virginia lost to Pitt 13-9 at home on Dec. 1. Two weeks later, it lost popular coach Rich Rodriguez, who had guided his team to three straight Top 10 finishes and five consecutive New Year's bowl games. He resigned and became coach at Michigan. That was it for some West Virginia fans who returned some 7,500 Fiesta Bowl tickets. Oklahoma boasts its second highest-scoring team ever and in averaging 6.5 yards per play is the most potent OU offense since 1986. Its defense has held 11 teams under their season average in total offense and 12 under their scoring average. This will mark the fourth meeting between the teams but they have never met in a bowl. Oklahoma leads the series 2-1 and the winner has eclipsed 40 points in each game. Oklahoma has scored at least 40 points eight times this season.

An Oklahoma win means: Stoops ends a three-game losing streak in BCS bowls and improves to 3-3 in BCS bowls, including 2-2 in the Fiesta Bowl. Oh, and the Sooners get 12 wins for the fourth time in six years.

A West Virginia win means: The Mountaineers get their 33rd victory to further their school record-setting trend during the past three seasons - and this one without Rodriguez.

Who's hot for Oklahoma: QB Sam Bradford[db], who has completed 72.7 percent of his passes for 1,007 yards and 14 TDs and 1 INT in the last five games (he attempted 3 passes against Texas Tech before leaving with an injury).

Who's hot for West Virginia: QB [db]Pat White, the two-time Big East Offensive Player of the Year, who has 1,307 yards in total offense (685 rushing, 622 passing) in the last five games, including 100-yard rushing efforts in four of the last five contests. He is 25-4 as starting quarterback.

D. Scott's stat: 42 - Victories in the last 43 contests when West Virginia has won the turnover battle.

D. Scott's pick: Oklahoma 45, West Virginia 17


No. 8 Kansas (11-1) vs. No. 5 Virginia Tech (11-2)

Thursday, Jan. 3 (FOX, 7 CST) • Miami

Key wins

Key losses


at Kan St, at Texas A&M, Neb

v. Mizzou


at Va, v. BC

at LSU, BC

Kansas and Virginia Tech meet for the first time with both seeking a piece of history. Led by National Coach of the Year Mark Mangino, the Jayhawks made a season of crushing old streaks prior to a 36-28 loss to No. 3 Missouri but enter with their first 11-win season and are tied for the second-biggest turnaround in the nation. They make their third bowl appearance in five seasons, the best stretch in school history. A 56-26 loss to N.C. State in the 2003 Tangerine Bowl dropped them to 2-16 against current ACC teams. ACC Champion Virginia Tech is one of only two teams to win 10 regular season games during each of the last four seasons and is one of only four current teams to advance to 15 straight bowls. Frank Beamer guided the Hokies to five straight wins to end the regular season - each by at least 12 points. Kansas will mark the Hokies' third straight ranked opponent. It will be a matchup between two high-ranking squads as Kansas ranks in the Top 7 in six different major statistical categories, including No. 1 in turnover margin (plus-1.58) and is the only team in the nation to rank in the Top 5 in both scoring offense (No. 2 with a school-record 44.3 points) and scoring defense (No. 5, 16.0). Virginia Tech ranks fifth in total defense (293.1), including second in scoring defense (15.4) and fifth in rushing defense (86.0).

A Kansas win means: The Jayhawks end their best season in history by capturing a victory in their first-ever BCS bowl on their way to a school-record 12 wins and earn their fourth win in their last five bowls.

A Virginia Tech win means: The Hokies cap an emotional season with a school-record 12 wins and a school-record 43 victories by the senior class.

Who's hot for Kansas: QB Todd Reesing, a Davey O'Brien finalist, who with 200 passing yards would become the first passer in school history to record nine 200-yard performances in one season. The first-year starter has thrown 18 TDs and 2 INTs in the last seven games.

Who's hot for Virginia Tech: MLB Vince Hall, who since missing four games with a broken wrist against Clemson has resumed his starting role and posted 13 tackles against Miami and 11 against No. 12 Boston College, including a late interception to help seal the ACC Championship. Hall, who had an ACC-leading 128 stops a year ago, has 92 tackles, including 6.5 for a loss and 3.5 sacks this season.

D. Scott's stat: 36 - Scoring drives by Kansas of two minutes or less, which ranks only behind Tulsa (38) in the nation.

D. Scott's pick: Virginia Tech 31, Kansas 27

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