1) Baylor at TCU, November 27th
Was there ever a doubt what the most highly anticipated game in the Big 12 was going to be this fall? Of course, a best case scenario: this game pits two undefeated teams against each other and it becomes a play-in game for the College Football Playoff. Add in the fireworks from last season, the budding rivalry between the only private schools in the conference, and the potential is there for one of the best games, in any conference, this fall.
2) Oklahoma at Tennessee, September 12th
The Big 12’s non-conference schedule does not have many marquee match-ups (thanks Mike Gundy and Bill Snyder, enjoy your FCS blowouts). So, the story lines behind this game include the Big 12 looking to state their case as a conference against an up-and-comer in the SEC. Also, if Bob Stoops and his Sooners are going to bounce back from last year’s disappointment, this game is a good way to make an early season statement to the conference and the nation.
3) Baylor vs. Oklahoma, November 14th
It’s entirely possible this game could feature two undefeated teams, or one undefeated vs. a one-loss. Of course, Baylor is predicted to be one of the top-two teams in the conference. If the Sooners are going to surprise us, they could come into this game nationally ranked. This begins OU’s final three games of a backloaded schedule, starting with Baylor and finishing with TCU and Oklahoma State.
4) Texas Tech at Arkansas, September 19th
Can Kliff Kingsbury turn the corner this season in Lubbock? With new defensive coordinator David Gibbs and improved personnel, this would be quite a statement game against an Arkansas squad some are predicting to win the rugged SEC West. Last year these two teams met and Arkansas rolled to a 49-28 win. In that game, Arkansas rushed for a ridiculous 438 yards. Nope, that’s note a typo. It’s a great early test to see how far along the Red Raiders have come from last season and gives the Big 12 another premier match up against the SEC.
5) TCU at Minnesota, September 3rd
TCU starts the season at Minnesota. Last year the Horned Frogs won this game 30-7, which was just the beginning of their run to national relevance. But, now they are the hunted, this game is on the road against a Minnesota team that wants to slow the game down with their running backs. How do all of TCU’s new faces on defense handle this? Will the Horned Frogs look like a team that can compete for a National Title?
6) Texas Tech vs TCU, September 26th
As I’ve noted previously, my most intriguing team in the Big 12 is Texas Tech, and part of the reason is due to their early season schedule. After their SEC showdown with Arkansas, they turn around to play National Title contender TCU at home. There is no time announced for this game yet, but I hope it ends up as the night game on FOX. There a few college football crowds more underrated than Tech’s. Jones Stadium, night atmopshere, the West Texas winds whipping … nothing better. And if Tech is coming off a win against Arkansas, forget it. The place will be nuts.
7) Texas at Notre Dame, September 5th
Will Charlie Strong resurrect the Longhorns a year earlier than predicted? He has a chance to start turning the page in front of the nation this Saturday in South Bend. Many believe the Irish can be in the CFB Playoff discussion. If Strong can take his ‘Horns on the road and put up a respectable showing, that could drastically change how the Big 12 plays out. Also, does he actually use a 2-QB system on Saturday with Tyrone Swoopes and Jerrod Heard? I find it hard to believe, but reports are he is likely to go that route.
8) Texas vs Oklahoma State, September 26th
These two teams have played some fantastic early season games. In 2011, both teams had kick returns for touchdowns on back-to-back plays, in a high scoring thriller ending with a 38-26 Cowboys win. In 2012, it was Joe Bergeron’s questionable 2-yard touchdown run with 29 seconds left to give UT the win. Then, the past two seasons the Cowboys and Longhorns played fairly mundane November contests. For whatever reason, this match up draws better results early in the season. OSU starts with 4 incredibly weak opponents. This is their first tough test.
9) Baylor vs Texas Tech, October 3rd
Speaking of tough tests … this is the first potentially tough one for Baylor, as they open the season with SMU, Lamar and Rice. As for Tech, it’s the final game in a ridiculously tough 3-game stretch of Arkansas, TCU and Baylor. Like the TCU game the week before, Tech gets Baylor at home. My goodness, if there is somehow, or someway, Tech is 4-0, or even 3-1, at this point of the season, the fans will travel from Lubbock to Arlington in droves! And if so, give Tech another Saturday night National TV showcase!
10) Oklahoma State vs Kansas State, October 3rd
Here are two teams hoping to surprise the conference and find themselves in the Big 12 race. For K-State, it’s their first conference game, and with their weak non-conference (South Dakota, Texas-SA, Louisiana Tech), it’s our first chance to see what Bill Snyder’s team is all about. Also, K-State should have their starting QB situation worked out. As for Oklahoma State, it follows the previously mentioned Texas game, before a trip to West Virginia (always tricky). We’ll have a good feel for the Pokes by mid-October.
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