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Ranking Big 12 games: Part IV

7/21/2014

As we await the Big 12 media days, we’re taking this moment to rank all 75 Big 12 games, both in and out of conference, from worst to first.

This list is Nos. 30-16:

No. 30. Baylor at West Virginia (Oct. 18): Baylor has the firepower to put up 63 points like it did in its previous trip to Morgantown. But West Virginia is a long way from scoring 70 again.

No. 29. Oklahoma State at Kansas State (Nov. 1): The Cowboys have just one win in Manhattan (2010) since 1988, when Barry Sanders was the Oklahoma State tailback and Bill Snyder had yet to appear on the K-State sideline.

No. 28. West Virginia at Maryland (Sept. 13): Could what happened to the Mountaineers against Maryland last season easily happen again? UTSA, Central Michigan, Indiana, Florida International and Nevada are the only schools in the FBS with more returning starters than the Terrapins’ 17.

No. 27. Texas Tech at Kansas State (Oct. 4): Whoever wins this game could emerge as a challenger to Big 12 co-favorites Oklahoma and Baylor.

No. 26. Iowa State at Iowa (Sept. 13): Strength of schedule is going to be a major component to the playoff. And though Iowa State is not a playoff contender itself, winning a game like this out of conference will do wonders for the Big 12. And as they’ve proved nine times in the past 16 years, this is a game the Cyclones can win.

No. 25. Tennessee at Oklahoma (Sept. 13): This would be a sexy matchup if the Vols were still any good.

No. 24. Arkansas at Texas Tech (Sept. 13): This nonconference matchup is overflowing with compelling storylines. QB Davis Webb’s first test since the Holiday Bowl. A reunion of old Southwest Conference foes. And Kliff Kingsbury’s up-tempo attack pitted against Mr. Slow-It-Down, Bret Bielema.

No. 23. Texas Tech at TCU (Oct. 25): This game last year was hideous, yet highly entertaining. TCU’s complete inability to score would haunt it the rest of the season, while Tech fans got a brief glimpse of Davis Webb, who tossed the game-winning touchdown.

No. 22. TCU at Texas (Nov. 27): Despite going 4-8, TCU played everyone tough last season with the exception of Texas, which trashed the Horned Frogs 30-7 after a lengthy rain delay. But TCU stunned Texas on Thanksgiving two years ago, shutting down David Ash in a 20-13 win in Austin.

No. 21. Kansas State at TCU (Nov. 8): Place-kickers Jaden Oberkrom and Jack Cantele put on a show last season. Oberkrom nailed a 56-yarder to put TCU up 31-30 with two minutes remaining. But Cantele countered with his fourth field goal of the day -- a 41-yarder with three seconds remaining to lift K-State to the comeback victory. Both are back this season.

No. 20. Brigham Young at Texas (Sept. 6): Charlie Strong’s first test as Texas coach will be a good barometer in determining just how far the Longhorns have come -- or not -- since last season's debacle in Provo, which probably sealed Mack Brown’s fate.

No. 19. Oklahoma State at Baylor (Nov. 22): The Cowboys bounced Baylor from the national title picture last season with an emphatic 49-17 win in Stillwater. The Bears will be out to beat up on a young Oklahoma State team in rebuild mode.

No. 18. Texas Tech at Oklahoma State (Sept. 25): This game, when played in Stillwater, has produced plenty of drama -- and a few theatrics. This will be a potential tone-setting game for Texas Tech, which has lost five in a row to Oklahoma State. For the Cowboys, this will be a chance to show everyone they’re being underestimated in the preseason yet again.

No. 17: Texas at Kansas State (Oct. 25): Strong’s first season includes road tilts in Manhattan, Lubbock and Stillwater. That doesn’t even include neutral-site matchups with Oklahoma and UCLA in the Metroplex. The Longhorns will have to win a couple of those to avoid having a repeat of the last four years of the Mack Brown era.

No. 16: Texas at Oklahoma State (Nov. 15): Good thing for the Longhorns this game isn’t in Austin, where Oklahoma State has reeled off three straight wins. The Longhorns dream of having the success the Cowboys have enjoyed under Mike Gundy the past four seasons.