Teams from Texas–all former members of the Southwest Conference, yup–went 5-1 in the pre-New Year’s college football bowls. Only TCU, playing last and latest in Saturday’s Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, marred the state’s perfect record.
The best and biggest game is yet to come, when Texas A&M plays Oklahoma in the Cotton Bowl on Friday. But for now, here’s how we ranked the other bowls.
Beat Fresno State, 43-10, in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
The Mustangs were 12.5-point underdogs in Vegas, and likely four-touchdown losers according to such soothsayers as SB Nation’s Bill Connelly and Sports Illustrated’s Stewart Mandel (though Mandel’s callback to the 2009 Hawaii Bowl proved prescient). Not only did the 6-6 Mustangs deliver the bowl season’s most dominant performance against 9-3 Fresno State, but the fans who saw it spent their Christmas on Oahu. Win-win.
Beat UCLA, 49-26, in the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
This year, Art Briles transitioned from Heisman-winning quarterback RG3 (who is now with the Redskins) to senior Nick Florence with only a slight drop-off (from 10-3 to 8-5), earning himself a contract extension at the beginning of December that should also help scare off other, richer schools from poaching him.
“Got to show some love for the Baylor Bears, who drilled UCLA and have now gone 11-1 in November-December the past two years,” wrote Kirk Bohls of the Austin American-Statesman. “Art Briles is the man, and Lache Seastrunk is a stud whether he wins the 2013 Heisman or not.”
Beat Oregon State, 31-27, in the Valero Alamo Bowl.
It started ugly, both off and on the field, but in the end, the era of Major Applewhite, offensive coordinator, began well, while defensive coordinator Manny Diaz’s group finished a tough year on a high. The most exciting game of the the Top 3, it sits below the others because the University of Texas should never, ever, ever lose in front of what’s essentially a home crowd at the Alamo Bowl (whereas Baylor had to win a virtual road game in San Diego).
4. Texas Tech
Beat Minnesota, 34-31, in the Meineke Car Care Bowl of Texas.