Since it's the giving season, we're handing out (hypothetical) gifts in this week's Big 12 roundtable:
What gift would you give the conference?
Brandon Chatmon: Don’t expect a stellar Big 12 showing during the bowl season, but Oklahoma might give the conference a gift that transcends its national reputation by winning the College Football Playoff. The Sooners have the talent and momentum to win it all with Baker Mayfield transforming the roster into a title contender. I knew Oklahoma had national title talent, but I was unsure about the quarterback spot. Not only did Mayfield erase those concerns, he emerged as one of the nation’s top players. Oklahoma can win the national title, and if it does, it would help the overall reputation of the Big 12.
Max Olson: During this holiday season, I can’t think of a better gift to give the Big 12 than peace. Peace from all the offseason critiques, hand-wringing and overanalysis of the league’s format and College Football Playoff future. Peace from all the fruitless speculation about expansion. Oklahoma doesn’t have to deliver a national title to make this happen, but a nice showing from the Sooners in the playoff sure would take some of the negative attention off the Big 12 in 2016.
Jake Trotter: Six bowl wins and a national title -- what could top that? The Big 12 probably has the toughest collective bowl slate of any conference, with no Group of 5 opponents. Imagine what people nationally would be saying about the Big 12 if it ran the table this bowl season?
If you could give any bowl team a gift, what would it be?
Chatmon: A Texas Tech bowl win over LSU in the Advocate V100 Texas Bowl would not only help the Big 12, it could spark the Red Raiders into a positive offseason. Everyone expects Leonard Fournette to be too much for Texas Tech’s defense, but that is ignoring one of the nation’s top offenses. Receiver Jakeem Grant is one of America’s underrated talents and Patrick Mahomes is making people forget about any uncertainty at the quarterback position in Lubbock. The Tigers and Fournette will get their numbers against the Red Raiders defense, but I have a feeling Mahomes will carry his team to another surprising win over an SEC team during the bowl season after knocking off Arkansas on the road during nonconference play.
Olson: Let’s send the gift of patience out to the folks in West Virginia. The fact their athletic director felt he had to send out a statement confirming Dana Holgorsen will be back next year is, to me, pretty ridiculous. West Virginia is a tougher head coaching job than most realize. Holgorsen is building that program the right way and I like where it’s headed. Perhaps a bowl victory over Arizona State would help reduce the pressure and help people understand WVU is in good shape for the future.
Trotter: I'll hand out bowl gifts to all: to Oklahoma, some more Baker Mayfield magic; to Oklahoma State, a healthy Mason Rudolph; to TCU, a sterling Trevone Boykin swan song; to Baylor, no WR quarterbacks; to Texas Tech, more Jakeem Grant trick plays; to West Virginia, 200 yards from Wendell Smallwood; to K-State, a fifth Morgan Burns touchdown return.
If you could give any player a gift, what would it be?
Chatmon: I’d hate to see Boykin’s college career end with a loss. The Valero Alamo Bowl against Oregon won’t be easy, but what has been easy during Boykin’s career? He looked like a player who should cement a spot at receiver as a sophomore, displaying his playmaking ability before becoming one of America’s top quarterbacks as a junior. He’s dealt with injuries during the final stretch of his senior season and I’d hate to see Boykin go out with a loss. I can’t think of any single player who was more important to his team than Boykin has been during the past two seasons, so I’d love to see him finish strong.
Olson: I’m wishing Baylor QB Chris Johnson a healthy and prosperous holiday season. You can’t help but worry about a guy coming back from a concussion and how he’ll handle the pressure. Can he keep this offense moving without Corey Coleman and Shock Linwood? Will he be limited as a runner? If Johnson gets hurt again against North Carolina, a very promising bowl will get ugly very quickly.
Trotter: I'd give Boykin a win, too. He's been a special player in the Big 12 and a transformative one for TCU. He deserves to go out with a win.