The Valero Alamo Bowl debuted its new match-up as the Big 12 and Pac-12’s #1 bowl outside of the CFP in 2014. Based on past history, the Bowl projected that these improved selection rights would mean the average team coming to San Antonio would be ranked #17 in the country.
That would be a huge improvement as the average team in Valero Alamo Bowl’s first 21 games was unranked. All together those games from 1993-2013 featured only six Top 25 match-ups.
After four years, the quality of teams as the #1 bowl outside the CFP have exceeded expectations as the average team coming to the Valero Alamo Bowl has been ranked #13.
Even more impressive is all four match-ups have featured two Top 15 teams and three of those games had fantastic finishes where the outcome wasn’t decided until the final play. No other non-CFP bowl has had a single Top 15 match-up.
Considering the difficulty in getting such highly ranked teams when the CFP could claim the Top 12 teams for the New Year’s Six bowl games, will the Valero Alamo Bowl’s streak continue for a fifth year?
Let’s look at the current pool of ranked teams from each conference.
- #6 Oklahoma: The Sooners only appearance in San Antonio was their upset of #1 Missouri in the 2007 Big 12 Championship. With Heisman hopeful Kyler Murray at the helm, a CFP bowl is their most likely destination but they will have tough games at West Virginia and in Dallas at the Big 12 Championship if they qualify.
- #9 West Virginia: The Mountaineers have their own Heisman candidate at quarterback in Will Grier but their remaining schedule include Oklahoma State on the road, Oklahoma at home and a possible Big 12 Championship berth.
- #15 Texas: Lil’ Jordan Humphrey did his best Michael Crabtree impression in hauling in the game winner for the Longhorns over Texas Tech. Texas is hosting Iowa State this Saturday night for a game that will impact each team’s post-season destination.
- #16 Iowa State: Since the Cyclones gave West Virginia its only loss, Iowa State wins over Texas and Kansas State and a West Virginia loss to Oklahoma could put the Cyclones in the Big 12 Championship. Iowa State ends their season against University of the Incarnate Word (a Valero Alamo Bowl team practice site) on Saturday, December 1 but a Big 12 Championship berth or a possible Incarnate Word playoff game (the team is 4-0 at home and 6-4 overall) could cancel that game.
- #8 Washington State: ESPN’s Heisman Watch has four front-runners: Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, Murray, Grier and the Cougars’ Gardner Minshew, respectively. An Apple Cup and Pac-12 Championship would send the Cougars to the CFP Semifinals or the Rose Bowl and couple propel Minshew and his mustache to the Heisman Ceremony as a finalist.
- #18 Washington: Even with three losses, the Huskies control their own destiny. If they beat Oregon State in Seattle this week and Washington State in Pullman on Friday, November 23, Washington will play in the Pac-12 Championship for their chance to advance to the Rose Bowl. Washington is riding a 13-game home streak (second longest streak in the FBS), while the Cougars have won 12 in a row at home.
- #19 Utah: The Utes overcame injuries to their starting quarterback and running back and outlasted Oregon 32-25 last weekend. Redshirt freshman quarterback Jason Shelley threw for 262 yards and ran for two touchdowns in hist first career start. Utah also got strong performances from running back Armand Shyne who had 174 rushing yards and Pac-12 Special teams player of week May Gay who set a school record by making 6-of-6 field goals including a 55 yarder as time expired in the first half. The Utes finish their season at Colorado and against BYU.
All of these teams in the mix to play in San Antonio could finish their seasons ranked in the Top 15. However with the CFP taking 1, 2 or even possibly 3 teams along with the fact so many of the teams play each other means that a fifth straight Top 15 match-up for the Valero Alamo Bowl seems like a long shot.
The good news is it will be an exciting finish to the season with its normal upset of two and the current media projections some compelling options going into Week #12: