Denied a spot in the Big 12 title game, the Alamo Bowl is likely the final destination for Texas in 2022

As No. 12 Kansas State secures a spot in the Big 12 title game against fourth-seeded TCU thanks to the Wildcats’ 47-27 win over Kansas on Saturday, Texas’ postseason outlook has come into focus. Friday’s 38-27 win over Baylor in the regular-season finals will be the 23rd-ranked Longhorns’ last game until a yet-to-be-determined bowl game that’s all but guaranteed to be the Alamo Bowl.

Texas (8-4, 6-3 Big 12) finished in sole third place in conference standings, a game behind K-State (9-3, 7-2), who next meet the undefeated Horned Frogs at AT&T Stadium Saturday (11 a.m., ABC). The Wildcats are locked in the Sugar Bowl no matter what happens in Arlington, either as Big 12 champions or as regular-season conference runners-up if TCU (12-0, 9-0) wins and advances to college football playoff

Because the Sugar Bowl is not a CFP semifinal this season, the selection process will require substitute teams from the SEC or the Big 12 if those are conference champions in the CFP. According to the selection criteria for the game, which takes place at 11 a.m. on New Year’s Eve, the Big 12 backup team would be “the next non-playoff team with the best record in the regular season standings.”

The Longhorns aren’t going to New Orleans and they won’t be great picks for another New Year’s Six Bowl: The Fiesta Bowl and Peach Bowl are CFP semifinals, neither the Orange Bowl nor the Rose Bowl have an agreement with the Big 12 and Cotton Bowl will likely pit a high-ranked Power Five team against the highest-ranked Group of Five champion). That means the Alamo Bowl should be the goal of the postseason by earning first pick of the remaining bowl-eligible Big 12 teams.

Texas finished a game ahead of Texas Tech (7-5, 5-4) and Oklahoma State (7-5, 4-5) in conference standings, and it will likely be difficult for the Alamo Bowl, Red Raiders or Red Raiders to pick Cowboys over the Longhorns (an Alamo Bowl representative attended the 11-point win over the Bears and went to the Moncrief Complex with the media for post-game availability). Texas should be ranked in both the CFP rankings and the Associated Press top 25 at the start of the bowl season, meaning a matchup against a ranked member of the Pac-12 would have both local interest (i.e., ticket sales) and the television viewer would also be attractive.

It took after midnight to determine which Pac-12 club will face No. 6 USC (11-1, 8-1) in next week’s conference championship game, but No. 14 Utah (9-3, 7- 2) has the honor after winning a three-team tiebreaker with No. 9 Oregon (9-3, 7-2) and No. 13 Washington (10-2, 7-2). The highest ranked Pac-12 member in the final CFP rankings will go to the Rose Bowl when the Trojans are in the CFP, allowing the Alamo Bowl pool to have any combination of the Ducks, Utes, Huskies, No. 18 UCLA (9-3, 6-3) and No. 21 Oregon State (9-3, 6-3).

Longhorns head coach Steve Sarkisian is no stranger to Pac-12 competition, having served as an assistant coach at USC (2001-03; 2005-08), as Washington’s head coach (2009-13) and as head coach of the Trojans (2014-15). Sarkisian has also trained in an Alamo Bowl, a 67-58 loss by the Huskies to Baylor and the Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III in 2011.

Since participating in the first Alamo Bowl in 2006 (a 26-24 win over Iowa), the Longhorns have been to the Alamodome more postseason times than any other five-appearance program. A record-breaking sixth return to San Antonio would be Texas’ fifth in the last 11 seasons and third in the last three after beating Utah in 2019 (38-10) and Colorado in 2020 (55-23).

A 31-27 win over Oregon State in 2012 gave the Longhorns an Alamo Bowl record four wins. The only Texas loss in the program’s five appearances, a 30-7 loss to Oregon in 2013, had the second-best viewership in Alamo Bowl history, with 65,918 viewers for Mack Brown’s last game as the program’s head coach (a record crowd of 66,166 spectators Penn State’s 24-17 win over Texas A&M in 2007).

If the Alamo Bowl, played December 29 at 8 p.m., doesn’t want the Longhorns for any reason, they won’t advance past the Cheez-It Bowl. The game will be played at 4:30 p.m. on December 29 at Orlando’s Camping World Stadium and will feature a Big 12 program pitted against a member of the ACC, creating some interesting opportunities as Texas has never played No .16 (9-3, 5-3 ACC) during a game against Brown and No. 17 North Carolina (9-3, 6-2) would be juicy for obvious reasons.

With that in mind, Burned Orange believers should feel comfortable planning to be in San Antonio for the holidays, as that’s where the Longhorns will almost certainly finish the 2022 season.

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