- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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In this week's Big 12 roundtable, we examine the games we're most looking forward to, in league play and in the non-conference:
What nonconference game are you most looking forward to?
Brandon Chatmon: Although Texas’ trip to Notre Dame is intriguing, I’m looking forward to Oklahoma’s trip to Tennessee on Sept. 12. Anytime a pair of college football’s name programs meet in nonconference play it is much-watch television.
The Sooners visit to Neyland Stadium has the chance to be one of the best nonconference games of the season as UT has a roster full of talented youngsters who showed promise in their 34-10 loss to the Sooners in Norman, Oklahoma, a year ago, and OU is looking to return to the national stage after underachieving in 2014.
Add the fact it will be the first road test for Lincoln Riley’s new offense and this game becomes even more interesting. This early season matchup means OU has the chance to send a message that this season will be different for Bob Stoops team. Or an early loss could dampen the hopes of an OU rebirth in 2015.
Max Olson: In terms of the quality of opponents, yeah, it's probably hard to beat Oklahoma vs. Tennessee. In terms of the quality of tradition, man, Texas at Notre Dame is going to be a lot of fun.
You always appreciate a game with major quarterback intrigue, and the season opener in South Bend promises to deliver on that front. Is Charlie Strong going to send out redshirt freshman Jerrod Heard for his first career game on the road? Is Tyrone Swoopes going to get the call and display big-time progress? And just how good is Malik Zaire? Now that he's out of Everett Golson's shadow, the lefty could have a big year.
I guess that'd be my top nonconference game just because we'll find out a lot about what the Longhorns are working with in 2015, especially with so many freshmen slated to play right away. Another sneaky important opener? Don't look past TCU at Minnesota. Even though the Gophers lost David Cobb and Maxx Williams to the NFL, I'm sure they'll give the Frogs a heck of a challenge.
Trotter: 2014 was a special year for the Big 12 and nonconference showdowns. 2015 is not. That said, we're going to find out a lot about the Sooners when they travel to Tennessee in Week 2. Lose that game, and Oklahoma could be well on its way to another disastrous season. Win in Knoxville, and the Sooners could generate the momentum to challenge TCU and Baylor for the conference crown. Bob Stoops made a bunch of changes in the offseason. It won't take long for him to find out if they're going to make the immediate difference he's banking they will.
What in-conference game are you most looking forward to?
Chatmon: I’m looking forward to Baylor’s trip to Oklahoma State on Nov. 21.
It’s a game that should have significant Big 12 title implications as well as an opportunity for BU to redeem itself at Boone Pickens Stadium after stumbling at the home of the Cowboys in recent years.
The two-time Big 12 champions will be coming off a home battle with OU with a road trip to TCU set for the following week, making this a tough sandwich game for a Bears program that has lost by an average of 30.5 points in Stillwater, Oklahoma, since Art Briles took over in 2008.
The Cowboys could find themselves in the middle of the Big 12 title race when the Bears come to town with home tilts against BU and OU as the lone hurdles to clear in the final two weeks of the season. It’s a game with title implications that should promise plenty of excitement with two offenses that have become headline acts in the Big 12 in recent years.
Olson: I wrote earlier this month on the blog that the season finale at McLane Stadium between Texas and Baylor is going to have big-time stakes. Plus, the first Charlie Strong vs. Art Briles chess match was so good in 2014 that, from a strategic standpoint, I think we'll witness a really fun battle once again.
But the game I've got to circle on the calendar is TCU at Oklahoma on Nov. 21. The Frogs will go home and host Baylor six days later, so that trip to Norman is sure to draw a lot of scrutiny.
They'll need not only a convincing win for the College Football Playoff committee (assuming they're contenders) but also a relatively clean bill of health entering the rematch with the Bears. The Sooners, meanwhile, will be coming off their trip to Waco and probably get to play the underdog role and try for a spoiler on senior night. That's a recipe for entertainment.
Trotter: Am I the only one going with the Revivalry here? Not only could it wind up being the biggest game in the history of Baylor and TCU football history, but chances are, it could carry Big 12 title and playoff implications, as well. On top of that, the two sides do not like each other and they always seem to stage fourth quarter shootouts. Plus, the game will fall on Black Friday, which will give the game the attention it never has enjoyed. But definitely now warrants.
Oklahoma's trip to Tennessee holds some intrigue; no matter how you slice in-conference games, the biggest ones probably will involve Baylor.