An overview of the 6-6 Kansas football team’s 2022 bowl prospects
There has been some question, concern and confusion among Kansas fans surrounding whether the 6-6 Jayhawks are a lock to play in a bowl this postseason.
They are. And we’ll officially know which bowl they’ll be playing in one week from today, when the bowl pairings are announced on ESPN.
Not every 6-6 college football team has always played in a bowl game after becoming bowl eligible. Few programs know that better than Kansas, which was left out of the bowl picture back in 2006 despite finishing with a 6-6 record.
But there are more bowls than ever today (41) and the Jayhawks will safely land in one of them. CBS Sports’ Jerry Palm reported Sunday that 79 of the 82 slots needed to fill the 41 bowls had been filled. That means it’s still possible that a 5-7 team or two makes a bowl this season.
The Big 12 has eight bowl tie-ins and eight teams that are bowl eligible. So there will be a seat at the table for everyone.
TCU and Kansas State will fill the top two spots, with the Horned Frogs still vying for a spot in the College Football Playoff. If TCU gets there, Kansas State will be headed to the Sugar Bowl.
After that, the Big 12’s bowl partners get their pick of the rest of the pack in the following order:
Valero Alamo Bowl
TaxAct Texas Bowl
AutoZone Liberty Bowl
Guaranteed Rate Bowl
Servpro First Responder Bowl
Lockheed Martin Armed Forces Bowl
At 3-6 in Big 12 play, Kansas finished tied for seventh with Oklahoma (6-6, 3-6) and West Virginia (5-7, 3-6).
The Sooners had a horrible year but likely would still be considered a huge get for one of those lower-tier bowls. The Mountaineers are not eligible to go bowling.
Texas (8-4, 6-3), Texas Tech (7-5, 5-4), Oklahoma State (7-5, 4-5) and Baylor (6-6, 4-5) all finished ahead of the Jayhawks in the final Big 12 standings, but that does not guarantee that those teams will be picked ahead of KU in the bowl selection process.
In fact, given that the Kansas fan base has been dying to see its team qualify for a bowl game for more than a decade, KU quickly could become a pretty attractive option for several of the Big 12 Conference’s bowl tie-ins because the Jayhawks figure to bring quite a crowd with them wherever they wind up playing.
Palm currently has KU pegged to play BYU in the First Responder Bowl in Dallas on Dec. 27. The 247 Sports bowl projections currently have the Jayhawks playing in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl against Maryland on Dec. 27. A pair of ESPN college football analysts have the Jayhawks pegged for the Armed Forces Bowl in Fort Worth, Texas, on Dec. 22, against Memphis or UCF.
There’s been some hope and speculation among Kansas fans that longtime rivals KU and Missouri, which both are 6-6, could meet up this postseason.
In order for that to happen, it would have to come in the Liberty Bowl in Memphis on Dec. 28 or the Texas Bowl in Houston, also on Dec. 28. Both of those automatically pit a Big 12 team against a team from the SEC.
Of the two, the Liberty Bowl is much more likely, though, because of the Texas Bowl’s position in the pecking order, where Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Baylor and possibly even Texas Tech could look more attractive. That’s assuming Texas is not chosen for the Alamo Bowl, which seems like a virtual lock.
We’ll know soon enough how it all shakes out. No matter what happens, though, the Jayhawks are officially bowl bound in Year 2 under Lance Leipold, which is no small feat no matter how or when the six wins came.
“I mean, obviously the second half’s been disappointing,” Leipold said of his team’s 1-6 record after a 5-0 start following Saturday’s 47-27 loss at Kansas State. “But again, if you’d sat here at any other time (and said we’d be) a 6-6 football team, I’m proud of this group, proud of the staff.”