Schedule analysis: West Virginia

Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. Next up, conference newcomer West Virginia.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Nonconference (with 2011 records):

  • Sept. 1: Marshall (7-6)

  • Sept. 15: James Madison at FedEx Field in Landover, Md. (8-5)

  • Sept. 22: Maryland (2-10)

Home Big 12 games:

  • Sept. 29: Baylor (10-3)

  • Oct. 20: Kansas State (10-3)

  • Nov. 3: TCU (11-2)

  • Nov. 17: Oklahoma (10-3)

  • Dec. 1: Kansas (2-10)

Away Big 12 games:

  • Oct. 6: at Texas (8-5)

  • Oct. 13: at Texas Tech (5-7)

  • Nov. 10: at Oklahoma State (12-1)

  • Nov. 24: at Iowa State (6-7)

Must-see game: Oklahoma. This is probably the biggest game of the Big 12 season, and Milan Puskar Stadium will be hosting it. Not bad for the first year in the Big 12 for the Mountaineers. Two high-octane offenses. Two legitimate Big 12 title contenders, and maybe more. Get to Morgantown for this late-season show.

Gut-check game: Baylor. The Bears will be flying under the radar and travel to West Virginia for the Mountaineers' Big 12 opener. Baylor will have the capability to beat almost anyone in the Big 12, WVU included. Win this one convincingly, and it could be the start of something special. Lose it, and hear the doubts about how well West Virginia will handle the transition.

Snoozer: James Madison. Playing in an NFL stadium will be cool, but this game will be one to forget. It's WVU's only matchup with an FCS opponent, and it could get ugly. Be careful with this one, though. James Madison knocked off 11-win Virginia Tech in 2010, which went on to go undefeated in the ACC.

Chance to impress: at Texas. Texas should be much improved, and when West Virginia comes to town Texas could very well be 4-0 with a win over Big 12 champion Oklahoma State. Want to endear yourself to your new conference mates? There's no better way than to beat the Longhorns. Call Texas' start fools' gold by way of inexperience and a soft schedule, but if West Virginia walks into Austin and wins as Big 12 newbies, it'll turn heads.

Final analysis: West Virginia plays five Big 12 games at home and four on the road, but that schedule has set up WVU to win big in 2012. Four of the five 10-win teams WVU will face in 2012 come to Morgantown, and the biggest competition for the Big 12 title (Kansas State, Oklahoma, TCU) have to face WVU on its home turf. That's a welcome sign. The Mountaineers must be careful with road trips to Texas Tech and Iowa State, who have a penchant for surprise upsets. Just ask Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. More than any team in the Big 12, WVU's schedule has it set up for a run to the title. Will it take advantage?

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.