The Big 12's top five nonconference games

May, 17, 2012
5/17/12
2:30
PM ET
You saw us break down each team's 2012 nonconference schedule, and, well, it wasn't pretty.

So what's it look like if we skim off the top? Here are the Big 12's top five nonconference games in 2012:

1. Notre Dame at Oklahoma, Oct. 27: Chalk this game up as the lone Big 12 game against a team in the ESPN preseason top 25. Notre Dame checks in at No. 24, and even though the Irish have meager expectations in 2012, the Big 12 has to take what it can get in this one. These are two of the most storied programs in all of college football, and simply seeing the gold helmets and red helmets with the OU logo on Owen Field will be fun.

2. Oklahoma State at Arizona, Sept. 8: OSU has beaten the pants off of Arizona the past two times they played, including the Alamo Bowl in 2010 and a blowout in Stillwater last season. This time, it'll be a lot different. For one, OSU is heading out to Tucson. For another, former West Virginia coach Rich Rodriguez is taking over for new Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops as the head Wildcat. This one should be fun for the young Pokes.

3. Miami at Kansas State, Sept. 8: These two played down to the wire in the Miami mud last season. Collin Klein was bleeding all over everybody (literally) and K-State's dream season got its first big boost. As double-digit underdogs, a last-second goal-line stand gave the Wildcats an upset (?) win. Miami went on to win six games. K-State won 10. They say the sequel's always a disappointment, but sign me up for this one.

4. TCU at SMU, Sept. 29: Speaking of sequels, SMU pulled off a mammoth upset in the Battle for the Iron Skillet last year. The Mustangs raced to 17-0 second-quarter and 33-17 fourth-quarter leads, but TCU rallied to tie the game with 76 seconds to play. Then SMU sprung the upset in overtime. Now, TCU rejoined its Southwest Conference brethen in the Big 12. SMU's still on the outside looking in. Expect plenty more bad blood in this rivalry.

5. Texas at Ole Miss, Sept. 15: Hey, I'm serious. You've got to take what you can get. This is the only matchup of the entire season between the Big 12 and the SEC, and it looks like a bit of a mismatch. Texas travels to The Grove, but Ole Miss will be trying to find itself under new coach Hugh Freeze, while Texas begins the road to proving it's a team back on its feet as a national power. Will Ole Miss stand in the way?

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BIG 12 SCOREBOARD

Saturday, 12/20
Monday, 12/22
Tuesday, 12/23
Wednesday, 12/24
Friday, 12/26
Saturday, 12/27
Monday, 12/29
Tuesday, 12/30
Wednesday, 12/31
Thursday, 1/1
Friday, 1/2
Saturday, 1/3
Sunday, 1/4
Monday, 1/12