Chuck Carlton, Big 12 beat writer for SportsDayDFW.com and The Dallas Morning News, answered questions about the league during a live chat Wednesday. Here are some highlights.
Q: Big few days coming up for the Big 12: How do you think the league fares in its bowl games?
Carlton: At best, the Big 12 faces a challenging slate of games. Oklahoma, Texas and Oklahoma State are significant underdogs in their games. The Big 12 really can’t afford to go 0-3 in those games. The absence of Will Grier, who is skipping the Camping World Bowl to concentrate on the NFL draft, is a blow to West Virginia. Iowa State is an interesting matchup against Washington State and Baylor and TCU are basically in coin-flip games. After a bowl resurgence the last two seasons, if the Big 12 can finish over .500 that would be a significant achievement.
Q: The Orange Bowl is almost here. Why can Oklahoma pull off the upset?
Carlton: Start with quarterback Kyler Murray, assuming his illness at the media availability isn’t anything serious. It’s not just the numbers but the skillset, with Murray the kind of mobile dual-threat quarterback that has at times given Alabama’s defense trouble. Plus, it’s the mindset. Oklahoma is used to must-score shootouts as an offense. Alabama really hasn’t been in that situation much if at all recently. If it becomes an an up-and-down game, yeah, Oklahoma has a chance. But Alabama’s defense, while not vintage Saban, is still very formidable.
Q: Most surprising bowl result so far?
Carlton: Look, I really respect that Army has done this season with limited talent and it’s option offense. It can be difficult to defend. Eleven wins is a heckuva an accomplishment. And Houston was minus Ed Oliver and D’Eriq King. But man, there’s no way that the Cadets should be hanging 70 points on Houston. What was going on there? While it looks like coach Major Applewhite is safe for now, you would think he faces a hot-season season in 2019.
Q: Does the loss of a starting offensive guard (Deonte Brown) significantly impact Alabama’s chances against Oklahoma in the Orange Bowl?
Carlton: It’s not optimum, although Alabama has plenty of depth. Remember that Deonte Brown didn’t become a starter until midway through the season and the player he replaced (Lester Cotton) looks like he’ll step back into the lineup.
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