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Ranking 2024 Big 12 Football Week 1 Games

NCAA Football: West Virginia at Penn State

There are about 10 Saturdays between us and the first week of the 2024 college football season.

While much of the conference will have a tune-up game in their opening contest, a few games will certainly be worth watching, even if it’s not your team.

Granted, all football in Week 1 is must-see TV, regardless of the matchup. We’ve gone seven months without college football, so filling up that first weekend with as much football as humanly possible is almost a rite of passage.

That aside, it’s easy to separate some of these games from the others in terms of watchability. So, here’s how we rank the 16 Big 12 games for the first week of action.


16. Lindenwood at Kansas

Thu, Aug 29 | 7:00 p.m. CT | ESPN+

I love watching Jalon Daniels put up video games as much as the next guy, but I’m not going to have this game on the TV with NDSU vs. Colorado airing on ESPN. It’ll be relegated to the iPad, if for nothing else but a score tracker.

15. Southern Utah at Utah

Thu, Aug 29 | 8:00 p.m. CT | ESPN+

Utah ought to win this game 55-0, and there’s a chance they’ll do that with Cam Rising sitting by halftime. I do want to see if Rising and Dorian Singer have that chemistry early on, but there’s just a better game going on in Boulder.

14. Towson at Cincinnati

Sat, Aug 31 | 1:30 p.m. CT | ESPN+

Yes, I’m curious about Brendan Soresby and how he fits in Cincy. But am I really going to learn anything about him against Towson? Plus, we will be 30 minutes into Oklahoma State facing the back-to-back defending FCS Champions. This one’s not getting much attention.


13. Tarleton State at Baylor

Sat, Aug 31 | 6:00 p.m. CT | ESPN+

Dequan Finn and Dave Aranda calling the defense are intriguing storylines for Baylor in 2024. However, we’re not learning anything about either of those things against Tarleton. Plus, Notre Dame vs. Texas A&M starts at 6:30. That’s gonna

12. New Hampshire at UCF

Thu, Aug 29 | 6:00 p.m. CT | ESPN+

The only reason, and I do mean the only reason this game is above any of the others, is because it’s technically the first Big 12 game of the season. This game will be on for about an hour while I wait for the Coach Prime show to start, and then it’s on over to ESPN.

11. South Illinois at BYU

Sat, Aug 31 | 7:00 p.m. CT | ESPN+

BYU is feeling the pressure this season, but I don’t think Kalani Sitake’s group has any trouble whatsoever in this game. I’m curious to see if Gerry Bohanon can win the QB battle, but this game isn’t getting the nod over the other games in the Saturday night window.

10. Abilene Christian at Texas Tech

Sat, Aug 31 | 6:30 p.m. CT | ESPN+

Is Behren Morton 100% healthy? That’s the top thing to watch for in this game, because if he can stay healthy, Texas Tech can make some noise. However, if he looks like he’s laboring to get started, it could be a bad omen. Nonetheless, this is another scoretracker game.

9. UT Martin at Kansas State

Sat, Aug 31 | 6:00 p.m. CT | ESPN+

What does the backfield combination of Avery Johnson, Dylan Edwards, and DJ Giddens look like? There’s no doubt that they’ll look dominant in this game, but if we can see Avery Johnson air it out a bit and combine that with a good running game, it should be as entertaining as you can get for a tune-up game.


8. North Dakota at Iowa State

Sat, Aug 31 | 2:30 p.m. CT | FS1

Iowa State has a tendency to let these season openers against lesser competition be closer than necessary, plus it’s the only Big 12 game on in the 2:30 window on Saturday. The one downside for this game is in a window that is dominated by Miami vs. Florida, but if this one is still close in the second half, it could be worth flipping over to during commercial breaks for the big game.

7. Wyoming at Arizona State

Sat, Aug 31 | 9:30 p.m. CT | FS1

If this game were in Laramie, I’d be concerned with the Sun Devils’ chances of starting their season out 1-0. However, in Tempe, I think they’ll be okay. Plus, Wyoming is breaking in a new head coach after a decade under Craig Bohl. Seeing what Sam Leavitt and Raleek Brown can do against respectable competition will be somewhat intriguing, but I’m not exactly hyperventilating with excitement.

6. New Mexico at Arizona

Sat, Aug 31 | 9:30 p.m. CT | ESPN

Am I going to tune into a 9:30 p.m. game to watch Noah Fifita destroy a Lobos team that went 4-8 last year? You bet I am. Fifita and Tetairoa McMillan are must-see TV, even in a late-night snoozer. I can’t promise to stay awake for the second half, but I’ll be dialed in for that first quarter of action.

5. UNLV at Houston

Sat, Aug 31 | 6:00 p.m. CT | FS1

UNLV is coming off a 9-5 season and returns much of their production from a season ago. In a high-scoring 49-36 loss to Kansas, UNLV looked the part of a team that can play spoiler to a Power Four team. On the other side, we have Wilie Fritz starting his tenure as the head coach of the Coogs. I respect everything about Fritz, and if he can pick up a win here—even against UNLV—it would be a huge boost for the program.

4. North Dakota State at Colorado

Sat, Aug 31 | 9:30 p.m. CT | ESPN

Colorado fans should be terrified about this game. North Dakota State will come to Boulder looking for a chance to prove themselves on a national stage. I’d expect this to be the most-viewed game in NDSU history, and that’s saying something for a program that expects national titles on a yearly basis. Meanwhile, Coach Prime enters Year 2 after another drama-filled offseason, but an unquestionably better roster. Will it equate to a big win, or will the Bison get the 2024 season started with some fireworks?

3. TCU vs. Stanford

Fri, Aug 30 | 9:30 p.m. CT | ESPN

Ah, TCU visiting Stanford. A classic Big 12 vs. ACC showdown. Nope, it still sounds weird.

Anyways, this Power Four clash provides one of the most intriguing Big 12 games of Week 1, and with the game in Palo Alto, it could be interesting… for a little while. I expect the Horned Frogs to be a much-improved team from a season ago, and while the Cardinal should be better as well, I don’t think they’ll be able to best Sonny Dykes’ Frogs. TCU is currently an 8.5-point favorite in this one.

2. South Dakota State vs. Oklahoma State

Sat, Aug 31 | 1:00 p.m. CT | ESPN+

A season-opener at 1:00 p.m. in August against the two-time defending FCS national champs. What could go wrong? Mike Gundy’s group should certainly win this game, and I expect them to, but the Jackrabbits are not to be taken lightly. They’ll carry a 29-game winning streak into Stillwater and return QB Mark Gronowski—who reportedly turned down six-figure NIL deals to stay at SDSU. Ollie Gordon ad the Oklahoma State offensive line should control this game, but if the Jackrabbits hit the Pokes in the mouth and start to smell blood in the water, all bets are off.

1. Penn State at West Virginia

Sat, Aug 31 | TBD | FOX

This game stands well above the rest of the Big 12 slate, and for good reason. Penn State is coming off a 10-3 season and finished the 2023 season ranked inside the Top 10. Meanwhile, West Virginia went 9-4 and returns plenty of production from the team that finished No. 25 nationally. Hosting a Nittany Lions team that will likely rank inside the Top 10 is a dream scenario for Neal Brown and company. If the Mountaineers can pull of the upset at home (+11.5 points), it would set the table for a potentially special season in Morgantown.

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