It’s every college football fan’s dream, right? Spend 14 weeks on the road following the best games in whatever your favorite conference is. In my case, and in the case of most of you reading Heartland College Sports, that would be the Big 12. So, I decided to put together my ultimate 2017 Big 12 football road trip this fall. Here’s a look at how my fall would go in a perfect world, which would like result in my wife telling me to take a hike by mid-November.
Now the catch: As part of this “dream” Big 12 football road trip, I will visit at least every Big 12 stadium once. This is not predicting what I believe will be the best game of the week, but rather the best game of the week while scheduling every Big 12 stadium at least once. Remember that before you bitch and moan about what you’re about to read.
Week 1: West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Virginia Tech Hokies
Sunday September 3rd
An old Big East rivalry that will see the Mountaineers and Hokies battle at FedEx Field in the D.C. area. Will Grier’s debut. There’s pressure on Dana Holgorsen to not have a down year following a 10-win season in 2016. What does the revamped defense look like under Tony Gibson? This will be a great first test.
Honorable mention: Let’s start the season off with Tulsa and Oklahoma State in Stillwater on Thursday night. Will this be the Cowboys’ 2017 version of Central Michigan? Phil Montgomery’s Golden Hurricane will be a favorite in the AAC and has a loaded offense. It won’t be the usual snoozefest of an opening week match up for the Cowboys. There should be some fireworks as the Pokes pull away.
Week 2: Oklahoma Sooners @ Ohio State Buckeyes
Saturday September 9th
Lincoln Riley’s first real test is a huge one on the road in the Horseshoe. He has to play Urban Meyer on the road in Game 2. Good luck. The Sooners will look for revenge against the Buckeyes after losing last year’s game in Norman. Also, there is Big 12 respect on the line as the nation will be watching. Ohio State will, once again, be a favorite to reach the College Football Playoff. This will be one of the best games in all of college football over the first couple of weeks.
Week 3: Texas Longhorns @ USC Trojan
Saturday September 16th
Could this be Tom Herman’s breakout performance before Big 12 play even begins? If so, it would be one of the storylines of non-conference play. Also, getting a chance to see Todd Orlando’s defense in a really tough test against Heisman favorite Sam Darnold on the road will be fun. We saw what Darnold did against Penn State to end last season in the Rose Bowl, so what does Orlando, Malik Jefferson, and the rest of the defense have in store?
Week 4: Baylor Bears vs. Oklahoma Sooners
Saturday September 23rd
Baylor’s only tough non-conference game will be against Duke. It’ll only be September, but we’ll get a great chance to see what exactly Matt Rhule’s team is all about in his first year on the job. Is the lack of depth on the offensive line too much to overcome? The Oklahoma front seven will be a great chance for Baylor fans to learn how hamstrung they’ll be by their O-line.
Week 5: Texas Tech Red Raiders vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Saturday September 30th
Next, we’ll shoot out to West Texas and see a shootout between the Red Raiders and the Cowboys. Oklahoma State has goals of winning the Big 12 and possibly reaching the College Football Playoff. Meantime, the Red Raiders need to reach a bowl game to save Kliff Kingsbury’s job. Most will peg Texas Tech to be near the bottom of the Big 12, but pulling off the upset against Oklahoma State could change the direction, and the expectations, of the 2017 season for Tech.
Week 6: Texas Longhorns vs. Kansas State Wildcats
Saturday October 7th
Staying in the Lonestar State, we head back east to Austin to watch the Longhorns and the Wildcats. Both teams will be in the second tier of teams hoping to win the Big 12 (behind the two Oklahoma schools). The winner of this game will have the early-season momentum heading into the rest of the month of October and beyond. Plus, Tom Herman vs. Bill Snyder, new blood vs. old guard. This one should be fun.
Week 7: Iowa State vs. Kansas
Saturday October 14th
Our Big 12 football road trip now shoots up north to Ames to watch the two teams that will likely be picked at the bottom of the conference, but is winnable for both teams. Also, both programs have reasons to be optimistic about the future. The winner of this game will have bragging rights as being the ninth-best program in the Big 12. Plus, Ames in October is beautiful (so I hear).
Week 8: Kansas State vs. Oklahoma
Saturday October 21st
I’m staying in the old Big 12 North in Week 8 by shooting over to Manhattan for this one between the Kansas State Wildcats and the Oklahoma Sooners. This could very well be a game we see again in the Big 12 championship game, so the first tilt between the two teams will go a long way to deciding who wins the Big 12 conference. While Bob Stoops owned the Wildcats during his tenure, Lincoln Riley will try to do the same.
Week 9: Kansas vs. Kansas State
Saturday October 28th
The old Sunflower Showdown. It might not be a close game, but going K-State to Kansas in back-to-back weeks saves me some money on gas and gives me a good look at the Wildcats in back-t0-back games as well. Also, any chance this is a letdown game for the Wildcats after a huge match up at home against the Sooners? Crazier things have happened.
Week 10: Oklahoma State vs. Oklahoma
Saturday November 4th
I’ve got to get to Bedlam the first week of November. This is another game I’m looking at as a potential rematch in the Big 12 Championship Game. If Mike Gundy is ever going to get over his Oklahoma Sooners hump in a big spot, this would be the time to do it. New coach. Your home field and home crowd. A loaded offense. Let’s go!
Week 11: Oklahoma vs. TCU
Saturday November 11th
Once again, I’m budget conscious on my Big 12 football road trip by staying in Oklahoma in back-to-back weeks by getting to Norman for Oklahoma vs. TCU. Could TCU be one of the surprises in the Big 12 and the country by this point in the year? A revamped Gary Patterson defense living up to its expectations? Maybe Kenny Hill finally being able to beat top-tier teams? We’ll find out in Week 11.
Week 12: West Virginia vs. Texas
Saturday November 18th
Last year I was in Morgantown in early December for the final game of the season against Baylor. It was an awesome time, but a cold time. So let’s move this trip up a couple weeks. I also want to get to Morgantown while the fall foliage is not completely over. So peg me down for this game in mid-November against the Longhorns. Both these teams have Big 12 championship game aspirations and we’ll find out if either of them are still in the running at this point in the season.
Week 13: TCU vs. Baylor
Friday November 24th
Last but not least, we end our Big 12 football road trip (regular season) in Fort Worth for TCU-Baylor. A nice rivalry has been budding between these two private universities that are separated by all of 90 miles. I’d say neither are likely to be in the Big 12 title hunt in the final week of the season, but this game should still have some juice to it. Is Baylor fighting for a bowl game in Matt Rhule’s first year? Is TCU? (If so, things went very wrong for the Horned Frogs). The Big 12 set up the last week of the season so that it hopefully doesn’t result in a rematch the following week. I think it’s safe to say this game won’t be played again in December.
Week 14: Big 12 Championship Game
Notice the theme? My incredible ability to geographically plan these games well. I’ll be in Fort Worth in Week 13 and will just need to shoot right down the road to Arlington and head to AT&T Stadium for the Big 12 title game.
Thoughts? Let us know in the comments!
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