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Why this bowl season will provide some serious southern exposure for OU and OSU

Bowl season in our state will have a decidedly southern feel.

It’s not just that both major-college programs are headed south for bowl games, Oklahoma to the national semifinal at the Orange Bowl in Miami and Oklahoma State to the Liberty Bowl in Memphis. The Sooners and the Cowboys will clash with opponents from the Southeastern Conference, too.

OU vs. Alabama.

OSU vs. Missouri.

On a day when bowl invitations were announced, neither Sooners nor Cowboys knew where they were headed. Would OU make the College Football Playoff or be left outside the top four settling for the Sugar Bowl? Might OSU make the Texas Bowl, fall to the Liberty Bowl or maybe go lower?

The first answer came a little before noon Sunday — the playoff selection committee ranked the Sooners fourth and set up a Dec. 29 showdown with the top-ranked Crimson Tide.

“We feel we have a team that can go make a run,” OU coach Lincoln Riley said in an interview during ESPN’s selection show. “The most exciting thing for us is that we feel like our best ball is still ahead of us.”

There may be evidence to back up that assertion. While the Sooner offense has rolled along all season at a historic clip, the defense has sputtered and stalled. But in OU’s last two games, the defense has shown signs of life, scoring two touchdowns in a win at West Virginia, then turning in its best overall performance against Texas in the Big 12 title game.

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