NORMAN, Oklahoma — Brent Venables and the Oklahoma Sooners defeated their bitter rival at Oklahoma State to qualify for the Bowl for the 24th straight season. The last time Oklahoma missed a bowl game came in the 1998 season, where the Sooners went 5-6 in the final season of the year John Blake Era in Norman. After a 23-20 loss to West Virginia on Nov. 12 that put the Sooners 5-5 in the season, it was starting to look a little questionable whether Brent Venables would go to a bowl in his first season as head coach. However, Oklahoma would earn a much-needed sixth win over Oklahoma State after an impressive start that saw the Sooners take a 28-0 lead in the first quarter before giving up the final 13 points of the game to complete a 28-13 win in favor of the Sooners for their 91st win of the Bedlam rivalry.
Even at 6-5, this is still uncharted territory for Oklahoma fans. After Saturday’s Bedlam win over Oklahoma State, I began to form my own opinion on the potential bowl games the Sooners could be sent to, which I’ll discuss below.
DISCLAIMER: I’m not including the Cheez-It Bowl in anticipation of TCU being sent to the College Football Playoffs. This would likely mean Kansas State would go to the Sugar Bowl, Texas to the Alamo Bowl and Oklahoma State or possibly Baylor to the Cheez-It Bowl.
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Guaranteed Rate Bowl (Big 12 vs. Big Ten)
With the recent 40 and 50 degree highs in the OKC metropolis, the recent 60 and 70 degree highs in beautiful Phoenix, Arizona must be for the players and coaches who have endured a long and challenging 2022 campaign, sound very appealing.
The Guaranteed Rate Bowl would be played against a Big Ten opponent on Tuesday, December 27 should the Sooners be selected. Unfortunately for Sooner fans who aren’t “night owl” fans, the game starts at 9:15 PM CT, which wouldn’t be ideal for those who have work or other commitments the following morning.
With the Big Ten having the other tie to the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, Oklahoma could potentially face Maryland, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa, or even Michigan State, who must upset #11 Penn State on the road to qualify for the Bowl to be admitted.
AutoZone Liberty Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC)
The next potential target higher up the pecking order would be sending the Sooners to the Volunteer State to play at the AutoZone Liberty Bowl in Memphis, Tennessee. Should Oklahoma be selected, they would play Wednesday, December 28 at 4:30pm CT.
Some of the potential matchups for this bowl game would feature some interesting storylines that would make Oklahoma fans excited about this bowl. Who wouldn’t want a matchup against 7-4 Mississippi State led by none other than mike leachthe former Oklahoma offensive coordinator and later opponent in the conference, with whom he had many showdowns Bob Stops during his time in Lubbock as HC at Texas Tech? How about 6-5 Kentucky led by Markus Stoopsthe retired brother of the legendary Oklahoma HC Bob Stops and uncle of the current Oklahoma WR Drake Stoops? Another potentially fun matchup could be 6-5 Arkansas, which is just hours from Norman and has many divided families in Oklahoma and Arkansas cheering for the Sooners and Razorbacks. Other bowl-eligible teams in the SEC would also include Florida and South Carolina, as well as Auburn, Missouri and Vanderbilt battling to bowl-eligible this weekend.
To add another interesting spin, a game played in Memphis, Tennessee would serve as a homecoming game Eric Gray and Woody Washingtonboth of which could potentially be headed to the NFL Draft after this season.
TaxAct Texas Bowl (Big 12 vs. SEC)
Finally, Oklahoma could potentially play their fourth game of the season at the Lone Star State if they are selected to attend the TaxAct Texas Bowl at NRG Stadium in Houston, Texas. The game will be played on Wednesday December 28th at 20:00 CT. Yes, this would be the same day as the Liberty Bowl, so it’s looking increasingly likely that you can circle December 28th as the date for the last game of the season.
Given that the other conference compound for the TaxAct Texas Bowl would again be the SEC, the potential matchups for Oklahoma in the Texas Bowl would be fairly similar to those in the Liberty Bowl. However, I believe the Texas Bowl would be more beneficial to OU for a variety of reasons. OU has a huge alumni and fan base in Texas, particularly in the DFW and Houston metro areas. So I believe the Texas Bowl would offer OU the best chance of having the most fans. Houston is also a recruiting hotbed that OU staff want to prioritize going forward, and a greater Houston-area bowl game would give Oklahoma a chance to gain a foothold in a region heavily dominated by Texas, LSU, Texas, A&M, Alabama and others in recent history.
Oklahoma also has several players on the roster who are originally from the Houston metropolitan area, which would also present a unique opportunity for multiple players to play a homecoming game in a region where the Sooners would not typically play.
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