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Friday, July 18, 2014
Ranking Big 12 games: Part V

By Jake Trotter

This week, we’ve ranked the Big 12 games, both in and out of conference, from Nos. 75 to 16.

Today we wrap up this series with the top 15 games:

No. 15: Kansas State at Oklahoma (Oct. 18): K-State toppled the Sooners in its previous trip to Norman. Oklahoma had best cover Tyler Lockett better than it did last season (278 receiving yards, three touchdowns) to avoid a similar result.

No. 14. West Virginia vs. Alabama in Atlanta (Aug. 30): A strong showing against the nation's preeminent program would bode well for coach Dana Holgorsen’s future in Morgantown.

No. 13. Oklahoma State vs. Florida State in Arlington, Texas (Aug. 30): Even if they don’t beat the defending national champs, a resilient performance would be a good sign for the young Cowboys for the rest of the season.

No. 12. Texas at Texas Tech (Nov. 1): The Red Raiders haven’t defeated Texas since Michael Crabtree’s catch in 2008. This could be a prime chance to end that streak and finally get off to a good start in November.

No. 11. Kansas State at Baylor (Dec. 6): K-State watched its national championship hopes vanish with emphasis in Waco, Texas, two years ago. The situations could be reversed this time around, but the Wildcats hope they’ll go into this regular-season finale with more on the line than the role of spoiler.

No. 10. Baylor vs. Texas Tech in Arlington, Texas (Nov. 29): In their past four meetings, these two sides have averaged more than 96 total points per game. This game has shootout written all over it, especially with Davis Webb and Bryce Petty at quarterback.

No. 9. Oklahoma at TCU (Oct. 4): The league’s two best defenses will be on full display here. The Horned Frogs have played tough against the Sooners in the past two years but have come up empty in the fourth quarter.

No. 8. Oklahoma at Texas Tech (Nov. 15): Texas Tech has traditionally struggled in November, but Oklahoma has traditionally struggled in Lubbock, having lost three out of four games there. Something will have to give.

No. 7. Texas vs. UCLA in Arlington, Texas (Sept. 13): The BYU game will be Texas coach Charlie Strong’s first test. But this will be his debut on the national stage. This is a huge game in setting the tone for the Strong era and for this season, with Big 12 co-favorites Baylor and Oklahoma looming early on Texas’ schedule.

No. 6. TCU at Baylor (Oct. 11): These sides clearly care little for one another, underscored last season by Ahmad Dixon’s targeting ejection followed by Gary Patterson’s postgame rant. The Big 12 needs to regenerate rivalry games after conference realignment destroyed many of them. This one has potential.

No. 5. Baylor at Texas (Oct. 4): Texas linebacker Steve Edmond pumped more acrimony into this game by calling Baylor “trash” in the spring. The high-powered Bears will be eager to trash Texas in its own stadium.

No. 4. Auburn at Kansas State (Sept. 18): The Big 12 has several chances to land a marquee non-conference win, and this might be its best shot at such a victory. The Little Apple will be uncontainable for this Thursday night showdown. Hopefully for the Wildcats, Tyler Lockett will be, too.

No. 3. Oklahoma State at Oklahoma (Dec. 6): The Cowboys might be down, and the Sooners might be up, but the Bedlam series always delivers in the drama department. Oklahoma State took Oklahoma to overtime in its previous trip to Norman and was in control until its fourth-quarter lead evaporated.

No. 2. Texas vs. Oklahoma in Dallas (Oct. 11): The coach at either school has been defined by how he fares against his Red River counterpart. Just ask Blair Cherry, who went 9-2 in 1950 but was chased out of Austin after losing three in a row to Bud Wilkinson. Charlie Strong will be much better off if he fares better against the Sooners than Cherry or Mack Brown did.

No. 1. Baylor at Oklahoma (Nov. 8): This is the one most likely to decide the Big 12 title. The Bears may have defeated Oklahoma by 29 points last year, but they have never won in Norman. On the other side, this could be Oklahoma’s biggest conference bout since 2008, when Texas Tech visited and was ranked second in the polls.