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Mapping Out Oklahoma's Bowl Game Possibilities

The Sooners will play their final game of the 2021 season under interim head coach Bob Stoops.

While the obvious attention of Oklahoma fans currently reside in the ongoing search to find the replacement for former head coach Lincoln Riley, the Sooners still have another game to play to conclude the 2021 season.

When they do so, it will be under interim head coach Bob Stoops - who returns to the team to lead them through the next month of practices and the bowl game at the tail end of December.

The question of what bowl game and who it will be against will be answered on Sunday, but Oklahoma goes into the weekend knowing the possibilities as far as where they could be headed.

Here is a guide to what is the most likely outcomes for the Sooners’ 2021 bowl destination:

Most Likely: Valero Alamo Bowl (San Antonio, TX)

Valero Alamo Bowl

Valero Alamo Bowl

If things go as expected this weekend, Oklahoma will almost certainly be playing in the Alamo Bowl against likely the Pac-12’s next-best team after the Rose Bowl participant (presumably the loser of Oregon-Utah on Friday night).

For things to go as planned, Oklahoma State would need to win the Big 12 by defeating Baylor in the conference title game at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX.

Should the Cowboys take care of business, they will likely make the College Football Playoff thus leaving the Big 12’s Sugar Bowl bid to be occupied by Baylor.

The Alamo Bowl then has the next-highest selection for Big 12 teams and would certainly take the Sooners as the conference’s biggest draw.

Obviously, it isn’t out of the question for the Bears to beat Oklahoma State on Saturday and blow up this scenario.

But, given the Cowboys’ level of play the last month and the fact they knocked off Baylor in their first meeting - this seems like the most likely outcome as things currently stand.

Could Happen: Cheez-It Bowl (Orlando, FL)

Cheez-It Bowl

Cheez-It Bowl

While the Alamo Bowl has to be considered the favorite, the Cheez-It Bowl is also a definite possibility to be Oklahoma’s landing spot.

For this to happen, one of two things would need to occur.

The first scenario would be Oklahoma State wins the Big 12 Championship Game against Baylor but does NOT make the College Football Playoff.

The Cowboys would then head to the Sugar Bowl which would leave, theoretically, the Bears to head to the Alamo Bowl as the Big 12’s highest-ranked team remaining.

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The Big 12’s third bowl tie-in is then the Cheez-It Bowl, where the Sooners would line up with an ACC foe.

The ACC doesn’t have the same tie-in system as the Big 12, so it’s hard to guess what team it would likely be, with projections largely just taking guesses.

The most attractive potential scenario here would be for the Sooners to wind up playing against Clemson, which would provide a plethora of obvious storylines.

Not Likely: New Year’s Six Game

Allstate Sugar Bowl

Allstate Sugar Bowl

It isn’t impossible for Oklahoma to still wind up in a New Year’s Six game, but not overly likely.

The only way the Sooners could end up in the Sugar Bowl would be for the loser of the Big 12 Championship Game to fall below Oklahoma in the last edition of the College Football Playoff rankings.

Oklahoma State is No. 5 and Baylor is No. 9 and both hold wins over the Sooners, who sit at No. 14.

So, that is practically a guarantee not to happen.

The Fiesta Bowl is also unlikely but not completely impossible, either.

What makes the Fiesta Bowl unique is that it does not have conference tie-ins like the other New Year’s Six games do.

So, anyone who is remaining after the other five games are set is up for grabs here.

If things go as they are expected to this weekend, Notre Dame will almost definitely be playing in Arizona as a top-5 or top-6 team on the outside looking in for the playoff.

That would leave one more spot to go to either Michigan State, Iowa or Oklahoma.

Presumably, the Fiesta Bowl would go with the Spartans since they currently have the highest ranking at No. 11.

For the Sooners to get this nod would also mean for the Big 12 to get three teams into the New Year’s Six and for the Big Ten to only have two (Michigan and Ohio State) - which makes it seem even more unlikely.

The same goes for the Chick-Fil-A Peach Bowl, which would have to drop a third, higher-ranked SEC team (likely Ole Miss with Georgia in the CFP and Alabama in the Sugar Bowl) in favor of the Sooners.

So, while a New Year’s Six appearance isn’t completely impossible, it’s highly unlikely.