The Big 12 goes on the road twice this week against BCS conference competition, with Iowa State trekking to Iowa City to face the Hawkeyes and Oklahoma State going on the road to face Rich Rodriguez's Arizona squad.
The Cyclones are a mild underdog, but the Cowboys are double-digit favorites, fresh off a headline-making 84-0 blowout win over Savannah State.
The league plays just one nonconference opponent in the preseason Top 25, but this weekend presents an interesting opportunity for the Big 12 to get a leg up in the BCS standings later this season, writes colleague Brad Edwards.
The Big 12 went 27-3 in nonconference play last season, with losses to only Arkansas (Texas A&M), Arizona State (Missouri) and Georgia Tech (Kansas).
Duplicating that feat -- or even exceeding it -- is a very real possibility. For the Big 12, that may pay off in the BCS later this month, writes Edwards.
Oklahoma State got a boost last year when the computers loved the Big 12's record and rated the conference as the nation's best. The Cowboys didn't edge out Alabama for the right to play LSU, but the league's nonconference record no doubt made the race closer.
The Big 12 had seven wins against teams with at least eight wins last year, but what will the computers think about the league this year? A better record but fewer quality wins?
The SEC is the league with the best chance to overtake the Big 12 in the computers this year, but it has to take care of business in low-profile games like Vanderbilt/Northwestern, Missouri/UCF and Mississippi State/Troy.
Should be an interesting race.
I picked the Big 12 to win two out of those three games this week, but nobody would be all that surprised if Iowa State springs the upset on the Hawkeyes.
Even more reason to ride the Big 12 bandwagon if you think your team's a contender this year. Interesting stuff.