We are within 100 days until we kick off the 2018 college football season. Well, it’s 84 to be exact, but who’s counting? The Big 12 Conference has a slew of great non-conference games that will get fans juiced up for the conference schedule, which begins as early as mid-September for some teams. Heartland College Sports’ Pete Mundo and Derek Duke will be taking you through the top 10 non-conference games on the Big 12 football schedule, ranking from No. 10 down to No. 1. Let’s get to it!
No. 7: Oklahoma vs. UCLA, Norman, OK, September 8th, 2018
After a season-opening match up against FAU, the Sooners first Power 5 opponent of the season comes in Week 2 against the UCLA Bruins, led by new head coach Chip Kelly. The storylines here are endless. You have our first look at Kyler Murray against a legit opponent (FAU is good, but it’s still FAU’s defense, which is weak), which should be interesting enough as we start to find out how wise he was to delay his baseball career. Then, there’s Chip Kelly entering Norman, Oklahoma for his first big-time game since his return to college from his NFL days. Kelly isn’t going to turn around his Bruins program overnight, but he’s made for the Pac-12 and the west coast, and if he wants to make a statement early in his tenure, this would be a helluva time to do it.
Then, there’s Chip Kelly vs. Lincoln Riley. The Old Guard vs. the New Guard. Sort of. Kelly was an innovative, young offensive mind nearly ten years ago who changed the college game, got his Oregon Ducks team to a BCS Championship Game and then went to the NFL. Riley is now considered an offensive innovator in the college ranks, has reached the College Football Playoff in his first year as a head coach in his early 30’s, and has huge expectations running a program of OU’s caliber. What will these two have in store for each other? Will there be some gamesmanship as well? You better believe it.
It will also be a telling game for the Sooners because we will get a first look into what kind of team Lincoln Riley has this fall. We know all the big names and key players that are gone, but how well is the program stocked? OU is the favorite to win the Big 12 Conference, but is that warranted or is it simply because they have become the flagship program of the conference for the past half decade? The story will begin to be told on Saturday, September 8th.
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