As the 2021 college football season approaches, let’s look at some of the marquee matchups in the Big 12 Conference. There were no shortage of games to pick from in the Big 12 this fall, but we had to get it down to 15, and here they are in chronological order.
Louisiana at Texas
The Ragin Cajuns stunned a good Iowa State squad, 31-14, to open the 2020 season. They finished 10-1 a year ago and 19th in the AP poll, and 17th in the Coaches’ poll. This game is Texas coach Steve Sarkisian’s debut, the Longhorns’ third coach since firing Mack Brown eight years ago.
Iowa at Iowa State
The Cyclones look to snap the Hawkeyes’ five-game winning streak. Both teams did not meet a year ago due to the Coronavirus. Iowa lost its first two games last year and finished with six straight victories. Cyclones are making another bid to win the Big 12 after a 9-3 season in 2020. ISU lost to Oklahoma in the Big 12 Championship Game but finished strong with a Fiesta Bowl win over Oregon.
Texas at Arkansas
An old Southwest Conference rivalry renewed (which will soon be an SEC West match up). The Longhorns dominated the series, 52-20 as SWC mates, but the Razorbacks have won four of the last six out of conference matchups, including a 31-7 victory in the 2014 Texas Bowl. Arkansas was not very good a year ago (3-7), but this is an old rivalry renewed.
Nebraska at Oklahoma
This, too, is an old rivalry renewed even though the Cornhuskers haven’t been a major contender in 20 years. For three decades (1960s, 70, and 80s) these two dueled to determine the conference championship. They met twice in the Big 12 Championship Game. Oklahoma prevailed both times. This matchup was scheduled as a tribute to the 50th anniversary of the Game of the Century, which the Huskers won, 35-31, in Norman en route to a national championship.
SMU at TCU
Dallas-Fort Worth Metroplex rivalry. The Mustangs snapped a seven-game losing skid in the series two years ago. (They didn’t meet last year due to Covid-19). SMU commanded the series for the Iron Skillet 36-32-7 when both were Southwest Conference foes. When the SWC disbanded in 1995, the Frogs own an 18-5 edge since then.
Texas at TCU
The Horned Frogs have won two straight and six of the last seven meetings. They also won a three-game win streak over Texas in Fort Worth. This game should be the measuring stick of how good each team will be in their conference openers. TCU was 6-4 in 2020, while Texas finished 7-3.
Oklahoma at Kansas State
Chris Klieman is 2-0 vs. the Sooners in his first two years at the helm for KSU. Doubtful if the Wildcats will be shaking in their boots when Oklahoma comes to Manhattan. Sooners and Longhorns can’t afford to be caught looking ahead to the Red River Showdown next week in Dallas.
Oklahoma vs. Texas at Dallas
Texas owns the overall series (62-49-5), but the Sooners have won nine of the last dozen contests, including a three-game winning streak. This matchup is so intense that the favorite doesn’t always prevail. It is the greatest rivalry in college football, although not everyone will agree.
Oklahoma State at Texas
Mike Gundy has had success when his Pokes go to Austin, winning five of the last six on the Longhorns’ turf. This game should be a good measuring stick of who might contend for the Big 12 title. Texas, which owns a 26-9 edge in the series, also holds a two-game winning streak over OSU.
TCU at Oklahoma
Some of you might not think this to be a marquee contest, but the Horned Frogs return eight players on a defense that finished 35th in points allowed and 30th in yards allowed. A solid defense will have Lincoln Riley scheming a good chess match for the Sooners. OU has won seven consecutive in the series and five straight at home.
Oklahoma State at Iowa State
If Cowboys want to make a play for the league’s championship, they’re going to have to win in Ames. OSU was the only Big 12 team to beat the Iowa State Cyclones during the regular season last year, but that was in Stillwater. Mike Gundy is 10-3 vs. I-State; 5-2 in Ames.
Texas at Iowa State
This contest could be a deciding factor for one of the two spots in the Big 12. The Cyclones have won two straight over Texas by a combined five points (23-21 in 2019 and 23-20 in 2020). The Horns have a bye the week before, giving them two weeks to prepare.
TCU at OSU
This contest could be a battle for the top of the Big 12 or a better bowl position. The last three meetings have been won by seven points (TCU 29-22 in 2020, OSU 34-27 in 2019, and TCU 31-24 in 2018).
Iowa State at Oklahoma
What a show these two teams put on last year in two games. Cyclones stunned OU by a touchdown in Ames, and the Sooners had to rely on a late-game interception to hold onto a 27-21 victory in the Championship tilt. Both are expected to be in Arlington on December 4.
Oklahoma at Oklahoma State
OSU skipper Mike Gundy has beaten the Sooners twice in 16 years. Is this the year he snaps the Sooners’ six-game winning streak in the series? Pokes haven’t won this matchup at Boone-Pickens in a decade. This game features a couple of guys named Spencer behind center—Rattler (OU) vs. Sanders (OSU).