Kansas City SB Nation staff writers Chip Rouse and Chris Schumerth preview, provide insight and make their picks among the bowl games involving Big 12 teams this postseason. They may not view things the same, but that's no matter because they have "agreed to disagree."
This is Part II of our Big 12 bowl picks. Today we preview Iowa State (Pinstripe Bowl), Texas A&M (Meineke Car Car Bowl), Kansas State (Cotton Bowl) and Oklahoma State (BCS Fiesta Bowl), as well as one extra pick, our take on: the BCS National Championship game.
Iowa State vs. Rutgers
New Era Pinstripe Bowl, New York City (Yankees Stadium), Dec. 30
Chip: Iowa State (6-6) is in a bowl game for the second time in three seasons. By upsetting then No. 2 Oklahoma State, the Cyclones probably prevented the Cowboys from an uncontested spot against LSU in the BCS title game. And a couple of weeks later, Iowa State came perilously close to knocking off the Big 12's second-place team, Kansas State. The Cyclones own a victory this season over Big East nonconference foe Connecticut, which defeated Rutgers (8-4) in the final regular-season game for both. I like what coach Paul Rhoads has done to get more out of less with this Iowa State team. They play tough, hard-nosed football and aren't intimidated by any opponent. ISU freshman quarterback Jared Barnett also has been impressive since becoming the starter late in the season. This game is in Rutgers' back yard, but I like underdog Iowa State to get the job done despite the Scarlet Knights' home advantage.
Prediction: Iowa State 24, Rutgers 21
Chris: Given Iowa State's inconsistency this year, this game was difficult for me to pick. Iowa State is the lone college football team to beat Oklahoma State this year, but they also lost four straight at one point and their last two in a pretty competitive Big 12 season. Two out of four of Rutgers' losses have been by a total of four points, so the Scarlett Knights can certainly compete. But then again, they haven't exactly beaten any teams of note. They're strength is their defense, only giving up 19 points a game (12th in the nation). As long as the Scarlett Knights aren't undone by their young quarterbacks, Gary Nova and Chas Dodd, I think their defense will be the deciding factor in this one.
Prediction: Rutgers 21, Iowa State 20
Texas A&M vs. Northwestern
Meineke Car Care Bowl, Houston (Reliant Stadium), Dec. 31
Chip: Outside of Oklahoma, Texas A&M has to be the biggest disappointment in the Big 12 this season. The Aggies (6-6) played their last season in the Big 12, losing four out of the last five games. They were in most all of their games, however, with five of their six defeats coming by seven points or less. A&M had trouble all season holding on to halftime leads. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill does a very good job directing the Aggies' offense, which found the end zone often this year, averaging nearly 40 points per game. Northwestern started out the season at 2-5 before winning four of its last five games. It will be interesting to see what impact the month-long layoff since the Wildcats last game will have on this late-season momentum run. Northwestern will probably try to attack A&M's suspect secondary, which will make it paramount for the Aggies' defensive front to shut down the Northwestern running attack. A&M has not played well in the postseason historically (one win in last ten appearances), and with an interim head coach on the sideline, I don't think they will break that string this time, either.
Prediction: Northwestern 31, Texas A&M 27
Chris: Maybe I'm in a disagreeable mood, or maybe I'm too aware that this game is being played in Texas, but I think Texas A&M overcomes a frustrating season and a departing coach and finally finishes a game against this Northwestern team that has been just as disappointing. Tannehill will do whatever he wants in this one against a team that already gives up almost 30 points a game. Interestingly, A&M's interim coach, Tim DeRuyter, will be leaving after the bowl game regardless of the outcome. He'll be heading to California to take over the Fresno State program. I expect him to be leaving with a 2011 bowl-game victory.
Prediction: Texas A&M 45, Northwestern 30
Kansas State vs. Arkansas
Cotton Bowl, Arlington, Texas (Cowboys Stadium), Jan. 6
Chip: This might be the best matchup of the entire bowl season from a competitive standpoint. No. 6 Arkansas in the BCS vs. No. 8 Kansas State. Big 12 vs. SEC. Does Kansas State coach Bill Snyder have another magical win in his pocket to close out the Wildcats' improbable season in grand style? Arkansas, like Kansas State, only lost twice this season in arguably the toughest football conference in the country. The Razorbacks' only two losses were to No, 1 LSU and No. 2 Alabama. Heading into the final weekend of the regular season, Arkansas was ranked No. 3 behind LSU and Alabama, the two teams playing for the national championship this season. As in most every game Kansas State played this year, the Wildcats are the underdog. K-State's offense pretty much revolves around the play of junior quarterback Collin Klein, who gets a lot of the Cats offense from his legs, which forces opposing defenses to respect that aspect of Kansas State's game. Special teams is another area where Snyder's teams always excel. K-State has had a great season and converted many nonbelievers, but it will take more than luck to turn away Arkansas.
Prediction: Arkansas 34, Kansas State 28
Chris: You're right about one thing: this is a fascinating match-up. Arkansas and Kansas State were two of the teams that thought themselves deserving of a BCS bid, but didn't get one. And while Arkansas comes out of the mighty SEC, K-State head coach Bill Snyder and quarterback Colin Klein aren't playing a team from Oklahoma, so I like their chances. The Wildcats will do what they've done all season long: run the football all over the yard, pass enough to surprise, and play solid on defense and special teams. Arkansas will put up some points, but it won't be enough.
Prediction: Kansas State 38, Arkansas 31
Oklahoma State vs. Stanford
BCS Fiesta Bowl, Glendale, Ariz. (University of Phoenix Stadium), Jan. 2
Chip: Along with K-State and Arkansas, this is another great matchup (No. 3 vs. No. 4). This game will feature two of the country's best quarterbacks in Oklahoma State's Brandon Weeden and Stanford's Andrew Luck, who finished second in the Heisman Trophy balloting for a second straight year. OSU (11-1) can't afford to look past Stanford (also 11-1), harboring the feeling it was unfairly turned away and should be playing LSU for the national title. The Cowboys will have to be on their game to beat a very good Stanford team whose only loss.this season was to Pac-12-champion Oregon. Expect this game to be high scoring. And it won't be because the defenses are bad, but rather a testament to how prolific the offenses are. I am among those who feel Oklahoma State's resume this season was deserving of having its chance against LSU. Alabama already had its shot, and couldn't get it done, and at home on top of it. The Cowboys will take out their disappointment on the Cardinal.
Prediction: Oklahoma State 38, Stanford 28
Chris: I, too, expect this to be one of the most interesting games in the bowl season. I think you underestimate Luck's Stanford team. I wish the Cowboys were playing LSU for in the BCS Championship, too, but I also think all the players are thinking that, too. The Cardinal is a bit of a consolation prize, and they are too good of a team to beat haphazardly. It will be Luck's final collegiate game, and I think he'll win it in style, with a game-winning drive in the final minutes. Oklahoma State's defense gives up plenty of yards and points, and it will haunt them in this one.
Prediction: Stanford 34, Oklahoma State 31
LSU vs. Alabama
BCS National Championship
Chip: Alabama had every chance to exert its will and beat LSU the first time these two teams met, but the Tigers persevered and came away with the road victory, out-field-goal-kicking the Crimson Tide three to two to win 9-6. Both defenses are outstanding. The difference, this time around, I believe, is that Alabama's offense is better than LSU's, and the Tide's defense is good enough to take plays away from the Tigers when LSU is on offense. Two times a is charm in this one, and Alabama gets the win when it means the most: a national championship
Prediction: Alabama 21, LSU 17
Chris: I really admire your willingness to pick the Crimson Tide here, and it is really difficult to beat a quality (Nick Saban-led) team twice. But against all the hope I could muster, this LSU team has just continued to cruise past excellent competition all year (including Oregon, West Virginia, Alabama, Arkansas, and Georgia). I expect this game to go as so many of the Tigers' have before. Alabama takes an early but small lead, the LSU defense and special teams clamp down, drive some momentum, and LSU wins by double digits.
Prediction: LSU 27, Alabama 13
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