This coming season there will be 130 FBS schools that will hit the field come fall. Each and every team all share the same dream, to be crowned as the national champion. While this may be every teams dream, realistically only a handful of teams have an actual chance to achieve it. To reach this goal you have to start by winning games in the regular season. Every game is just as important as the first because sometimes one loss can be the difference between being on the inside or being on the outside looking in. Here is my list of how long each Big 12 football team can stay undefeated before tasting the agony of defeat.
Baylor Bears: 3 games
The Rhule era officially begins on September 2nd at home against Liberty (Can you say cupcake?). This should be a walk in the park for Baylor and the same should apply to the UTSA game the following week. Week 3 is where things get interesting for the Bears. They will travel to Durham, NC to play the Duke Blue Devils. Even though they have struggled the past two seasons, they are no slouch of a football team. As long as they remain healthy through the first two games, they should be able to squeak by Duke. September 23rd will be a total 360 for Baylor because they will open conference play against the two-time defending conference champions, Oklahoma. I have a hard time seeing Baylor keep up with the Sooners due to depth and experience. Baylor will start off 3-0 before losing their first game in the Rhule era in what looks like be a rebuilding year for the Baylor.
Iowa State Cyclones: 3 games
It’s year two of the Matt Campbell era in Ames and the Cyclones look to shake off last year’s 3-9 season. They started off rusty in 2016, losing their first two games to in state schools (UNI & Iowa) but this season will be a bit different. The Cyclones finished 2016 winning 2 out of their last 3 and I expect them to continue that momentum to start off in 2017. They will not only get revenge against Northern Iowa at home, but they also will beat their in-state rival Iowa to bring the CY-Hawk trophy back to Ames. While this may be a big upset to many, this is a rivalry that has been a lot closer than people think with Iowa State winning 2 out of the last 5. Iowa has always been a heavy favorite in these games but you can toss everything out the window when it comes to rivalry games. The magic will run out when Texas comes to town September 28th in a Thursday night matchup. Texas will be too much for them talent wise in the trenches and on the outside. The Cyclones will start 3-0 before their first loss.
Kansas Jayhawks: 3 games
Kansas will begin their season with what most other teams would call “cupcakes”, but Kansas isn’t one of those teams who can overlook anyone on their schedule quite yet. Their first 3 games are against SE Missouri, Central Michigan at home (Yes, that small Michigan school who beat Oklahoma State on the Hail Mary that shouldn’t have counted) and finishing off their non-conference at Ohio (who beat them 37-21 last year). The first two games should be very winnable for the Jayhawks, but the Ohio game is very tricky. The Bobcats bring back an experienced team but the Jayhawks have added weapons to their arsenal to put them over the top in this one. Kansas will start 3-0 for the first time in forever before dropping the conference opener to West Virginia. Not bad for a team who has won 2 games in the last two years.
Kansas State: 4 games
Looking at the schedule, the Wildcats toughest road games are at Texas and Oklahoma State. They get OU, TCU and WVU at home which is very nice to have. However, Kansas State does have a very hectic three week stretch where they will play Texas, TCU and Oklahoma (Yikes). They will lose at least one of those three games and to me it will be against Texas on the road. The last two trips to Austin have resulted in losses for the Manhattan Wizard. It always seems like the home team always wins this matchup between the two. Defensively Texas should be able to figure out how to stop the rushing attack for Kansas State, forcing the offense to put up more points than their accustomed to. The Wildcats get off to a 4-0 start probably on their way to a 9 or 10 win season. This is a really solid football team.
Oklahoma Sooners: 1 game
The Sooners kick off the 2017 season by hosting UTEP in Norman. Barring a catastrophic disaster, the Sooners should handle their business easily in week one. Next comes arguably their biggest game of the season, the rematch against Ohio State. The Buckeyes spanked them last year in Norman and I am sure some of the players haven’t gotten the taste out of their mouth from that game. Unfortunately, the Buckeyes have too much firepower and with a crowd of 100,000 plus on hand, I don’t see Oklahoma escaping the horseshoe with a win. Lincoln Riley will start out 1-1 in his first two games as the head ball coach.
Oklahoma State Cowboys: 6 games
Ah, the new conference favorites. Many have the Cowboys winning the Big 12 title this year and I have seen some predict the Pokes to go undefeated or finish the season with one loss. The biggest question is who can knock off the Cowboys? Oklahoma? Kansas State? Look no further than the Tom Herman led Longhorns. I know what you are thinking, Texas, really? The Cowboys have a back-loaded schedule this year and their first big road test will be in Austin. I strongly considered them losing to TCU in week 4 but they have the Horned Frogs at home this year and I have no idea how TCU QB Kenny Hill will play in that one. Texas is 2-5 in their last seven meetings with Mike Gundy and I would bet Texas has a chip on their shoulder come October 21st when the Cowboys come to town. In the last 19 years the Longhorns are 18-1 following their Red River game against the Sooners and I expect them to bounce back after a loss to beat the Cowboys at home. The Pokes will start 6-0 to start the season before tasting defeat.
TCU Horned Frogs: 3 games
TCU had their 2nd worst year last season since joining the Big 12 in 2012. They finished 6-7 but they could have easily been 9-5 with a bowl win in 2016. The Horned Frogs had trouble finishing games but most of that was due to some sporadic quarterback play by Kenny Hill. The biggest question is which Kenny Hill will we see this year? This is a team that has all the pieces to make a run for a conference title but in a quarterback driven league, you need excellent play from your signal caller. TCU will start off the season with Jackson State (Easy win), @ Arkansas (Lost in double OT last year) and SMU at home. I see them turning the pigs into bacon in Fayetteville and starting off 3-0. The trouble will start when the visit Stillwater where the conference favorite Oklahoma State Cowboys will be waiting for them on September 23rd.
Texas Longhorns: 2 games
Year one of the Tom Herman era will begin with a match up against Maryland for the home opener. Texas is simply a better football team than Maryland talent wise and while Texas may look a bit rusty, they should take care of business at home. The same can also be said for their second opponent, San Jose State. The real game begins in week 3 when they visit the coliseum in Los Angeles, where the mighty USC Trojans will be waiting for them. The last time these two teams met they were playing for the national championship back in January of 2006. Now while this game might not be as important as that one was, this is still one of the best non-conference matchups in all of college football. Sadly for the horns, USC and Sam Darnold will be too much for them to handle this early in the season. Then again the Trojans might be too much for anyone to handle this season. Texas starts 2-0 before their first loss.
Texas Tech Red Raiders: 2 games
2017 will be a make or break year for Kliff Kingsbury. Another 5-7 finish could put him out of a job if he doesn’t turn it around this season. How many wins can he pile up this season? I am not sure of the exact number but what I am sure of is that every game is crucial for this squad to retain their coach for another year. The Red Raiders start off the season with Eastern Washington, who is one of the best FCS programs. Tech is 28-1 in their last 29 home openers, but this one will be close. Week 2 will be a matchup with Arizona State at home. After last year’s meltdown in the desert, Texas Tech will seek revenge. Where they will suffer their first loss is September 23rd at Houston. The Cougars will have former Texas A&M QB Kyle Allen running the show and Houston will still be a very talented and dangerous team. This will be a shootout that will end up in Houston’s favor. Texas Tech will start 2-0 before their first loss.
West Virginia Mountaineers: 4 games
There is no team people are more unsure about than the Mountaineers heading into 2017. Nobody is quite sure how they will look this season after losing some good starters up front on the offensive line as well as some playmakers at receiver. Heck, even the defense may take a small step back this year. Either way, new QB Will Grier should cover up some of those questions marks that will lead them to victory over team like Virginia Tech, East Carolina, Delaware State (Yawn) and Kansas. Now the VT game will be huge as the entire country will be watching that game but I see the Mountaineers coming away with a victory over their formal Big East rival. As for East Carolina, Delaware State and Kansas, those will be wins or at least they should be. Dana Holgorsen will start off 4-0 before getting cooled off by TCU in Fort Worth. The Horned Frogs will be improved defensively to stuff the run game for the Mountaineers, forcing Will Grier and the receivers to win the game in which they will come up short. WVU starts off 4-0 before the loss at TCU.
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