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Texas Longhorns will 'go bowling' ... but where?

With a 6-3 record, there are a few bowl game possibilities for the Longhorns. Here are some of those bowl game projections laid out for you.

AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: On Dec. 20, the Longhorns announced their bowl game destination. Click here to find out where they'll go bowling.

The year 2020 has been a whirlwind in sports and elsewhere, and that has shown up time and time again during the college football season. 

Games were postponed and some were canceled outright, which continues to potentially change the landscape of conference title games (we'll get to that in a second) and affect the College Football Playoff's (CFP) selection. 

For Texas and the Big 12, however, a college football playoff appearance has all but vanished. UT lost three tight ball games, including the longest Red River Showdown in series history, a two-point home loss to TCU where running back Keaontay Ingram fumbled on the one-yard line, and a three-point loss to Iowa State in a game where UT led the entire time until 1:25 left in the fourth quarter. 

RELATED: Report: Texas Longhorns would be first replacement team for Big 12 title game, officials say

With its three conference losses, UT was eliminated from a chance to compete in the 2020 Big 12 Championship, unless some sort of COVID-19 craziness happens to either Iowa State or Oklahoma, and Big 12 officials have confirmed Texas would be the first replacement team. 

While a Big 12 Championship "replacement berth" is very unlikely, going to a bowl game is not. UT will be one of numerous Big 12 teams invited to play in a bowl game. 

The question is, which one? Here's how the bowl game selection process goes, starting with the College Football Playoff:  

The Big 12 Champion would go to either the College Football Playoff semifinal (Sugar and Rose this season) and or to one of the College Football Playoff bowls not included in the bracket, which this season are Peach, Fiesta, Orange and Cotton. 

With the current landscape of the rankings, it does not seem a Big 12 team will make the playoff and thus would be the conference's representative in one of those other four New Year's bowls. So that takes care of either Iowa State or Oklahoma. 

Once the CFP has filled its bowl slots, Big 12 bowl partners will make selections from the remaining conference teams. A bowl may pick from any available teams with .500 or better records when it reaches its spot in the selection order. After the placement of those teams, slots will be filled from among the pool of remaining teams.

Here are how the Big 12 tie-ins play out:

  1. Valero Alamo
  2. Cheez-It
  3. Academy Sports + Outdoors Texas
  4. AutoZone Liberty
  5. Guaranteed Rate
  6. SERVPRO First Responder Bowl

Whoever loses between Iowa State and Oklahoma will be the next highest ranked Big 12 team and will likely be selected for the Alamo Bowl. 

Now, this where Texas comes in. The rankings above are simply the order in which bowls can make invitations for schools. So, just because Texas is the next ranked team in the Big 12 standings doesn't automatically mean they would go to the Cheez-It bowl, but does make it a possibility. The Cheez-It bowl may want Oklahoma State instead of Texas, and thus give the Cowboys an invite over the Longhorns. 

ESPN analysts are split on the location where Texas will go bowling. Kyle Bonagura has the Longhorns in the Texas Bowl versus Arkansas. Mark Schlabach slated UT for the Cheez-It Bowl versus Miami

Bonagura's selection came because he believes the Cheez-It Bowl would choose Oklahoma State over Texas, opening up the Longhorns for the Texas Bowl to invite. 

Our take: 

It's clear the two most likely choices are either Cheez-It or Texas, but is a matter of whether or not Cheez-It likes Texas or Oklahoma State. Texas did beat Oklahoma State in the head-to-head matchup, so perhaps Cheez-It chooses UT for the sake of "having the better team," but that is all subjective. 

Texas and Oklahoma State was another one of UT's close games, but the Longhorns outlasted the Cowboys in overtime. 

These bowls are about marketability and making money. If Cheez-It passes on the Longhorns, there's no way the Texas Bowl does. If I had to bet on it, I think the Cheez-It Bowl reps would see how close UT has been this season to potentially being undefeated or a one-loss team and thus ranked even higher.

I'll have the Longhorns going to Orlando to play the ACC's representative simply because the Texas Bowl reps didn't get their chance to ask the Longhorns out to their dance. 

Granted, if UT somehow finesses their way into the Big 12 Championship because of COVID-19 and somehow won the whole thing, then throw all of this out of the window. But we'll only cross that bridge if we get to it.

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