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 2018 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 vs. Tennessee (Charlotte, NC)
We kick off the season with a neutral site game between the Mountaineers and the Volunteers, who are under new leadership with Jeremy Pruitt. WVU is the favorite and if Dana Holgorsen’s team is for real this season then they should win this game with relative ease. Kicking off the season with a Big 12 win over an SEC team? It’s a feel-good way to start our road trip.
Week 2: Kansas State vs. Mississippi State
Ah yes, another chance for the Big 12 vs. SEC. The Bulldogs will likely begin the year in the Top 25 and have one of the best quarterbacks in the conference in Nick Fitzgerald. They also have a stout defensive line and will be going up against one of the best offensive lines in the Big 12. Kansas State would love to make up for its SEC loss last season against Vanderbilt and this game should tell us more as to who Bill Snyder trusts to be his starting quarterback this fall.
Week 3: TCU vs. Ohio State (Arlington, TX)
It’s a quasi-home game for the Horned Frogs, but not really, as the Buckeyes fans will be out in full force. Ohio State is the Big Ten favorite, so this game gives TCU, and as a result, the Big 12 Conference, another chance in the non-conference to make its mark. Plus, a trip to Jerry World is always a good time, minus the absurd prices for parking, food and beer. Sure this is also the same week at Texas vs. USC, but there will be plenty of time to get to Austin, so let’s go watch this one in DFW.
Week 4: Texas vs. TCU
And just like that, let’s get down to ATX. We’ll keep it in the Lone Star State for conference play and shoot down I-35 for a trip to Austin as the Longhorns host the aforementioned TCU Horned Frogs. If this is the year Texas actually makes that big jump, and they’re right now holding the second-best odds in the Big 12 to win the National Championship, then these are the kinds of games they need to win. Getting the conference slate started off on the right foot is vital.
Week 5: Kansas vs. Oklahoma State
Let’s just get this trip to Lawrence over with while the weather is still warm. The only thing worse than watching another Kansas blowout in front of 10,000 fans is having to do it sub-35 degree temperatures in November. Lawrence is a really fun town with a good scene. So we are going to make sure we get there while the weather is nice and we can dabble in some outdoor drinking after the game to make sure we forget what happens on the field. That being said, if David Beaty has any hope of keeping his job, a quick start to the season is vital and KU should still be semi-optimistic in late September. Plus, this isn’t the Oklahoma State of recent years, so maybe the Jayhawks have a puncher’s chance.
Week 6: Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas, TX)
This is a no-brainer. If the Red River Rivalry is actually ready to come back as one of the most important games in the college football regular season, this is the year for that to happen. Both young head coaches Lincoln Riley and Tom Herman are in Year 2 and expectations are high for both programs. The Texas State Fair with this game as the backdrop is about as good as it gets, so if there’s a good reason to justify going to this game, you have to make it happen.
Week 7: Iowa State vs. West Virginia
Ames in October, from what I’ve been told, is pretty darn beautiful. So let’s get out of the Texas heat, which can certainly still be a factor at this point in the season, and travel north to where the leaves are already starting to turn. Both the Cyclones and Mountaineers will have a bye week the following week and will want to end the first half of their season on a high note.
Week 8: TCU vs. Oklahoma
Lots of Big 12 teams are off this week, but that’s OK, because we’ll head back down I-35 to Fort Worth to watch OU and TCU play for the third time in the past 12 months. It’s a rematch of the Big 12 Championship game when the Sooners dominated the Horned Frogs. But Baker Mayfield is no longer in town to terrorize Gary Patterson, so maybe GP’s fortunes start to change, especially since this game is in Fort Worth.
Week 9: Oklahoma State vs. Texas
Both Oklahoma State and Texas will be coming off bye weeks for this game. Oklahoma State has won 10 games in three-straight seasons, but could be due for a set back with so much turnover, while the Longhorns expect to be in Big 12 contention in the back half of the season. Last year, Texas nearly stunned the Pokes, but OSU held on for a miraculous 13-10 overtime win. Let’s try for a repeat of that.
Week 10: TTU vs. Oklahoma
It’s now time to make the ride out to West Texas. Kliff Kingsbury is going to be fighting to keep his job all season long. If he can beat the Big 12 favorite at home late in the season, it might buy him enough sympathizers to justify sticking around into 2019.
Week 11: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
It might not have the implications of previous seasons when the Big 12 title was on the line, but it’s still Bedlam. Mike Gundy just can’t get over the hump and beat Oklahoma. In a year where he is not expected to be in Big 12 contention, maybe the pressure is lessened on Gundy, he calls a looser game and Oklahoma State can play spoiler against Oklahoma down the home stretch of the season.
Week 12: Baylor vs. TCU
It’s become one of the best rivalries in the conference. I’m not sure how much will be on the line here, but possibly a bowl game could be at stake for the Bears. These two teams can’t stand each other, and with Baylor expected to make a big jump in the win column this season, I’m looking forward to a competitive game, not just a competitive half, which is what we got last season in Fort Worth.
Week 13: West Virginia vs. Oklahoma
We opened the season with a West Virginia game, but at a neutral site, and now it’s time to end the season and make our trip to Morgantown to wrap up the regular season. Could this be a game we get for two-straight weeks? The Big 12 Championship is the following weekend and I would be surprised if this game does not have some implications for deciding who plays in Arlington the following week.
Week 14: Big 12 Championship Game (Arlington, Texas)
We make the long road trip back to the DFW Metro for the Big 12 title game. As for who plays in this one, we obviously have no idea (predictions coming on this in a few weeks), but it’ll be a great weekend and way to wrap up an awesome season and (dream) road trip in which we visited every Big 12 stadium once and watched some of the best football in America.
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