Texas Tech and Oklahoma State might be playing for more on Saturday than rivalry bragging rights. The Red Raiders and the Cowboys probably are playing for an inside track to a spot in the Alamo Bowl.
“This is a big game,” Alamo Bowl spokesman Rick Hill said Tuesday. “The winner of this game would have a pretty good shot of being in our game or higher, I think.”
Officials from the Alamo and Holiday bowls both will be on hand to watch Saturday’s game at Stillwater, Okla. Oklahoma State is an 101/2-point favorite, and if Tech loses, a trip to the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl in Tempe, Ariz., would become the more likely destination for the Red Raiders.
Most projections have Tech going to Tempe for the Dec. 29 game against a team from the Big Ten Conference.
Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl public relations director Kristen Pflipsen said scouts from Tempe have seen Tech in person more than any other team this season. They were at three Red Raiders games — West Virginia, Kansas State and Kansas — and were particularly impressed with the atmosphere when Tech beat West Virginia 49-14 on Oct. 13.
“That’s a plus, that we’re familiar with how the fans are excited about the program and all the support and enthusiasm surrounding it,” Pflipsen said.
Were Tech to lose both its remaining games, against Oklahoma State and Baylor, the Red Raiders could fall to the Holiday Bowl, which is Dec 27 in San Diego.
The Alamo Bowl, set for Dec. 29 in San Antonio, pits Big 12 Conference and Pac-12 Conference teams.
Hill said there are four teams from each conference that appear the most likely options: No. 18 Texas (8-2), Oklahoma State (6-3), No. 23 Tech (7-3) and TCU (6-4) from the Big 12, and No. 14 Stanford (8-2), No. 17 UCLA (8-2), No. 21 Southern Cal (7-3) and No. 15 Oregon State (7-2) from the Pac-12.
Texas might be off the board — most projections have the Longhorns in the Cotton Bowl — which is why the OSU-Tech game means a lot in San Antonio.
After hosting Big Ten Conference teams 16 of its first 17 years, the Alamo Bowl aligned with the Pac-12 for the last two years. It gets first choice of Pac-12 teams once the BCS teams are off the board.
“If it works out where Texas Tech is the team, they would be playing a high-powered opponent,” Hill said. “We’re hoping to have an eight- or nine-win team in the Top 25 (from the Big 12) and maybe on the Pac-12 side you could get a 10-win team.”
Tech has played in the Alamo Bowl three times, losing to Iowa in 1996 and 2001 and beating Michigan State in 2009. The Mike Leach firing overshadowed the Tech-Michigan State bowl week, but the Red Raiders have been good for the box office.
“The last two times, it was a capacity crowd,” Hill said. “I think (the 2009 game) obviously had additional attention with the coaching change. It was an interesting time, but it definitely made people focus on the team.
“This time, you would have the same kind of buzz based on quality of opponent.”
Stanford has played in BCS games the last two seasons. USC has a marquee quarterback in Matt Barkley. The Trojans and UCLA both would figure to be good for television, based on their tradition and Los Angeles market. Hill said Oregon State fans likely will travel well, having missed bowls the last two years.
“From where we sit,” Hill said, “I don’t think we’ve ever had better options. All four of those Big 12 teams will provide big attendance, good programs, and you match up with a highly ranked Pac-12 team. We’re excited where we are.”
Besides being almost certain to have a ranked team from the Pac-12, Hill said Alamo Bowl officials are fired up about the circumstances this year. It’s the game’s 20th anniversary, and it’s on a Saturday whereas many Alamo Bowls have been stuck in a midweek time slot.
The Alamo and Buffalo Wild Wings bowls take place back-to-back on ESPN, at 5:45 p.m. and 9:15 p.m., respectively.
The Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl, formerly known as the Insight Bowl, pits Big 12 against Big Ten. Northwestern or Michigan State are the most likely Big Ten teams.
The game now has a total payout of $6.65 million. Pflipsen said it’s more attractive than it was in 2006, when Tech rallied to beat Minnesota 44-41.
“We have a much better game now,” she said. “We doubled the payout (two years ago), and we invested to really get a higher level of teams. We’re coming off two years of record attendance, and our TV ratings have been growing each year as well. The bowl is really on a great path.”
To comment on this story:
email@example.com • 766-2166
A sampling of where media outlets project Texas Tech to go and the opponent it will face in a bowl game:
■ ESPN: Buffalo Wild Wings vs. Michigan State
■ The Sporting News: Holiday vs. Southern Cal
■ College Football News: Buffalo Wild Wings vs. Northwestern
■ CBSSports.com: Holiday vs. Oregon State
■ USA Today: Buffalo Wild Wings vs. Michigan State or Northwestern
■ National Football Post: Holiday vs. Oregon State
■ PhilSteele.com: Buffalo Wild Wings vs. Northwestern
■ Sports Illustrated: Buffalo Wild Wings vs. Northwestern
■ CollegeSportsMadness.com: Holiday vs. Southern Cal
■ CollegeBowlProjections.com: Buffalo Wild Wings vs. Michigan State