West Virginia v. Texas A&M – Autozone Liberty Bowl – 12/29 @ 1 pm on ESPN
This matchup pits a former member of the Big 12 against a new member of the conference. Defense will come at a premium in this game as both teams are surrendering over 26 points per contest. The Aggie defense has been particularly porous late in the season. Texas A&M has lost 5 of their last 7 games and during that stretch they have given up an average of 36 points per game. The Aggies are particularly susceptible over the top, which should have Kevin White licking his chops. However, White will be relying on a new QB in Skyler Howard because former starter Clint Trickett has retired from football due to concussions. It will be interesting to see how quickly the starters have gelled with Howard during bowl prep. Vegas obviously thinks they will be fine considering WVU is still favored by two points. If Howard is up to the task, expect this game to be more of a shoot out since both schools like to push the tempo.
Staff Picks – WVU (5 Votes) Texas A&M (3 Votes)
This game is battle between the Big 12 and the ACC. The Sooners are going to face a tough test when they go up against the number one team in total defense in the FBS. Clemson is only giving up 259.6 yards and 17.6 points per game. However, Oklahoma will have its full complement of weapons back. Trevor Knight, Sterling Shepard and Samaje Perine will all be suiting up. Oklahoma has a high powered attack that relies on the legs of Perine and the arm and legs of Knight. The Sooner offense is averaging 38.9 points per contest. Clemson’s offense is not near as prolific and they are dealing with the departure of their OC Chad Morris, who took the job at SMU. Cole Stoudt will likely have the signal calling duties for the Tigers but he has a lackluster 6/10 TD to Interception ratio. Oklahoma has been vulnerable against the pass, as we saw against Baylor, but they are ranked 10th against the run. I expect the Sooners to stop the run and force Clemson to pass. Even though Clemson is ranked 17th, the Sooners are still five point favorites. This game will come down to Clemson’s ability to contain the Sooner offense.
Staff Picks – OU (8 Votes) Clemson (0 Votes)
Texas v. Arkansas – Advocare V100 Texas Bowl – 12/29 @ 8 pm on ESPN
Two former Southwest Conference rivals meet up to do battle in the Texas Bowl. Both teams are in the midst of being rebuilt and have shown flashes of improvement all year. Arkansas likes to run the ball in the old school, smash mouth fashion. Jonathan Williams and Alex Collins have both rushed for over 1000 yards this season for the Hogs. While Texas led the Big 12 in total defense they are still giving up 162.1 yards per game on the ground. The Razorback rushing attack could prove troublesome for the Horns if they don’t commit to stopping the run. Texas must also fix their sometimes-anemic offense. The Longhorns are only averaging 22.6 points a game. Texas has relied on their defense a lot this year, so it will be up to them to keep the game as low scoring as possible. This game will likely be a low scoring affair with both teams trying to win the time of possession.
Staff Picks – Texas (4 Votes) Arkansas (4 Votes)