- David Ubben, College Football
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We're only days away from the season starting, but you'll barely whet your appetite with this weekend's moderate set of games. When does the good stuff start? Glad you asked. Here are the five games you've got to see this season:
Sept. 22: Kansas State at Oklahoma -- So are the SnyderCats legit? An endless summer of debate will start to get some clear answers with this one. You couldn't ask for a much tougher task than this. OU walked into Bill Snyder Family Stadium and beat K-State by 41 last year, but how will the Wildcats handle the return trip? Time to find out. Want to convince people you're more a Big 12 contender than the league's sixth-best team? Make this competitive. Even if the Cats don't win, pushing the Sooners to the brink at home would impress.
Sept. 29: Texas at Oklahoma State -- There's nothing to lose and everything to gain for both of these teams. Win, and plenty of folks are going to be impressed. No shame in losing. This should be a Top 25 showdown and a huge conference opener for both squads. Both get two weeks to prepare, too. It's the first major test for true freshman Wes Lunt, and the first major test for Texas' uber-talented defense. Winner gets to be taken seriously as a Big 12 contender. Go get it.
Oct. 13: Oklahoma vs. Texas in Dallas -- This is a must-see every year. Everybody in the Big 12 compares themselves to these two, but no atmosphere compares to the annual October clash at the State Fair of Texas. And this game should be a fun one. It very well could be a showdown of two undefeated top-5 teams, too. Texas is still trying to prove it's back, and nothing would do more for that campaign than winning the Big 12's marquee matchup of the season. Grab a corny dog, funnel cake and park it in your seat for this one.
Nov. 3: TCU at West Virginia -- Wasn't this supposed to be a Big East game this year? I guess not. Odd to think both of these teams will be wearing Big 12 patches when they kick it off, but welcome to a whole new world in the Big 12. Missouri and Texas A&M are gone, but this will serve as an eye-opener in regards to the Big 12's current state. Oh, and there are two pretty good teams going head-to-head, too. Don't be surprised if this is a top-15 showdown between two great offenses.
Nov. 17: Oklahoma at West Virginia -- For as much pageantry as October at the Cotton Bowl has, this is my pick as the real Big 12 championship game in 2012. The league's two best offenses will go head-to-head at Milan Puskar Stadium, led by the league's top two quarterbacks, Landry Jones and Geno Smith. The winner of this one may have to seal its Big 12 title in the coming weeks, but WVU's road is much simpler than OU's. The Sooners host rival Oklahoma State and travel to TCU. West Virginia has just one Friday afternoon trip to Iowa State left on its schedule after this one.
3dDavid M. Hale