The No. 7 Texas Longhorns (11-1) are one of those teams with a championship game slated for Saturday. The Longhorns will face No. 19 Oklahoma State for the Big 12 crown to cap off what's been Texas' best season in years. Eleven wins are the most since the 2009 squad that made the BCS national championship game.
With four undefeated teams ranked ahead of the Longhorns, Texas' loss to No. 13 Oklahoma in the Red River game looms large ahead of the postseason. Here's a breakdown of the Longhorns' postseason possibilities ahead of the Big 12 title game.
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Can Texas make the College Football Playoff?
Yes, the Longhorns are in the conversation if a few things break their way for teams ahead of them in the rankings. If No. 4 Florida State, with former Heisman candidate Jordan Travis out for the season, loses the ACC title game against No. 14 Louisville, that's a start. If No. 3 Washington loses to No. 5 Oregon in the Pac-12 championship game, things get even more interesting.
In that scenario, two of the teams ranked ahead of the Longhorns would be 12-1. Assuming Texas beats Oklahoma State on Saturday, they'll be even record-wise and warrant a look for the College Football Playoff. If No. 1 Georgia and No. 2 Michigan win the SEC and Big Ten title games, respectively, this hypothetical could create a College Football Playoff field of Georgia, Michigan, Oregon, and Texas.
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Can Texas make a New Year's Six bowl?
This is the most likely scenario for the Longhorns. This hypothetical involves Florida State, Georgia, and Michigan all winning their respective title games and the Pac-12 winner getting the nod over Texas.
The College Football Playoff Selection Committee has another four bowl games for the New Year's Six: the Fiesta, Orange, Peach, and Cotton bowl games. Only one of those has specific conference affiliation - Orange - and would include an ACC team facing Notre Dame or a highly-ranked team from the SEC or Big Ten. The rest are at-large bids for other teams in the top 12 or so.
Assuming the Longhorns win the Big 12, they're a near-lock for the Cotton Bowl on Dec. 29 at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas. It's the sole bowl game for that day and the Longhorns would be a huge draw. A Cotton Bowl appearance would likely be against an SEC team, likely No. 8 Alabama or No. 9 Missouri.
But Texas could end up playing in the other two at-large bowl games. In a Peach or Fiesta bowl scenario, potential opponents include Alabama, Missouri, or No. 6 Ohio State.
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Which bowl games are most likely for Texas?
Of all of these scenarios and assuming Texas wins the Big 12, the Cotton Bowl makes the most sense. A Florida State win on Saturday all but seals this scenario. That'd make the College Football Playoff a very long shot but keep an at-large New Year's Six bowl quite likely.
Should the committee go a different route for the Cotton Bowl, the Fiesta Bowl seems more likely, given the history of top-ranked Big 12 teams making that game as an at-large. Iowa State played Oregon and Oklahoma State played Notre Dame for the 2020 and 2021 college football seasons, respectively.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: A look at Texas football's bowl game options prior to Big 12 title