Big 12: 2012 Big 12 schedule analysis

Schedule analysis: Baylor Bears

July, 6, 2012
Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. Next up, those Bears in Waco.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Nonconference (with 2011 records):
  • Sept. 2: SMU (8-5)
  • Sept. 15: Sam Houston State (14-1)
  • Sept. 21: at Louisiana-Monroe (4-8)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 13: TCU (11-2)
  • Nov. 3: Kansas (2-10)
  • Nov. 17: Kansas State (10-3)
  • Nov. 24: Texas Tech (5-7) at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas
  • Dec. 1: Oklahoma State (12-1)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 29: at West Virginia (10-3)
  • Oct. 20: at Texas (8-5)
  • Oct. 27: at Iowa State (6-7)
  • Nov. 10: at Oklahoma (10-3)
Non-con challenge: SMU. Baylor is one of two Big 12 teams taking on former Southwest Conference power SMU, which has seen a major revitalization under June Jones. Baylor's breaking in a lot of new faces in its Sunday night opener at home, and SMU is a solid team. Even at home, a poor performance could mean a nightmare start to the post-Robert Griffin III era. The Ponies are easily good enough to beat the Bears without shocking the world. Baylor has to play well to win.

Chance to impress: TCU. Baylor knocked off the Horned Frogs in a Friday-night opener last season, but the Frogs will come hungry and bearing a Big 12 patch on their jerseys this season. Baylor's good enough to reach a bowl, but if it wants to prove early on this coming season that it is very capable of more, beating TCU early in the conference season would be a good start.

Gut-check game: at Iowa State. The Cyclones will be on the bubble of bowl eligibility most of the season, and Baylor might find itself in the same spot. Last season, Texas Tech and Iowa State played a game that ended up deciding which team would make a bowl game. Don't be surprised if Iowa State and Baylor do the same on Oct. 27 this year. The Bears will need games like this badly if they're going to reach a bowl without truly sweating.

Upset watch: at West Virginia. This game is going to be an absolute zoo in Morgantown. Baylor gets to be the very first Big 12 opponent for the Mountaineers, and the whole city, fan base and team will be amped. Could that play to Baylor's advantage? West Virginia will have a lot of energy, but it will also have a lot of pressure to impress. Could that mean we see a tight or sloppy Mountaineers team? It's possible, and Baylor's good enough to take advantage. Baylor's got a shot to take some major air out of a WVU Big 12 title run early in the season.

Final analysis: Baylor has four Big 12 home games, four road games and one neutral-site game, but the first thing that stuck out to me about the schedule was the Bears have just one home game between Sept. 15 and Nov. 3. The home game against TCU breaks up a string of four road games in five weeks, including an awkward Friday night date at Louisiana-Monroe. Outside of that, it's a very balanced schedule. Baylor hosts three 10-win teams from last season, and travels to two 10-win team stadiums, plus Texas. It hosts TCU, but going to Fort Worth will be nothing new for the Bears. They played in Amon G. Carter Stadium (and got walloped) in 2010. Baylor does get its first trip to Morgantown as a Big 12 member out of the way very early, which should be fun. Even more fun if the Bears spring the upset and announce to the nation that they won't be falling back to the wayside without RG3.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Schedule analysis: Iowa State Cyclones

July, 3, 2012
Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. Next up, those Cyclones in Ames.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Nonconference (with 2011 records):
  • Sept. 1: Tulsa (8-5)
  • Sept. 8: at Iowa (7-6)
  • Sept. 22: Western Illinois (2-9)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 29: Texas Tech (5-7)
  • Oct. 13: Kansas State (10-3)
  • Oct. 27: Baylor (10-3)
  • Nov. 3: Oklahoma (10-3)
  • Nov. 24: West Virginia (10-3)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 6: at TCU (11-2)
  • Oct. 20: at Oklahoma State (12-1)
  • Nov. 10: at Texas (8-5)
  • Nov. 17: at Kansas (2-10)
Non-con challenge: at Iowa. Iowa State snuck out of Ames with a comeback, triple-overtime win over the Hawkeyes last season, coach Paul Rhoads' first over the in-state rivals. This year, though, it's about to get much tougher, and Iowa should be better, with plenty to prove. Add that it's been a decade since ISU has won in Iowa City and, well, you know why we're calling this one a challenge.

Gut-check game: Texas Tech. Iowa State beat the Red Raiders by 14 in Ames in 2010. The Cyclones embarrassed them at home last season a week after Tech's win at Norman over Oklahoma. If Iowa State wants to convince people it's once again a bowl team, winning this game will be key. Both teams have a bit of upside, but Tech has been rocked by injuries the past two seasons. If it's healthy this time around, can Iowa State still prove it's destined for the postseason?

Upset watch: West Virginia. Look out, Mountaineers. You've been warned. Iowa State did it to Nebraska in 2009, and followed it up with a win over Texas in 2010. Last year, Oklahoma State proved that ISU can beat anybody in this league. WVU will be coming off an emotional home game against Oklahoma, and will be making its first trip to Ames. Welcome to the Big 12. First lesson: Beware of the Cyclones.

Snoozer: Western Illinois. ISU has a pretty good nonconference schedule, but Western Illinois was an awful FCS team in 2011, and lost 69-0 in the one game it played against Big 12 competition. It could have been worse, too. Mizzou led 42-0 at halftime. Enjoy the cakewalk, Cyclones. There won't be any in the Big 12 this year.

Chance to impress: Kansas State. Iowa State always seems to play the Wildcats close, and this year could be yet another example. Last year's game was tied at 23 with four minutes to play, the Cyclones led by three in the fourth quarter of 2010's loss and the 2009 game was decided by a blocked extra point in the final minute. Maybe ISU doesn't knock off WVU, but K-State seems like a prime candidate for the Cyclones annual massive upset.

Final analysis: Iowa State gets five teams in Ames, an increasingly difficult place to win for Big 12 teams. The Cyclones saw record crowds in 2011, and expect that to continue with the league's new blood in 2012. Four of the final five games in Ames are against 10-win teams in 2011, though. Its first two road games are against 11-win teams in 2011. Iowa State also landed a bye before conference play begins, which may come in handy, but it follows a game against an FCS opponent. The Cyclones may have been better served by a bye week later in the season, but it's a relatively balanced schedule. ISU has one of the Big 12's toughest nonconference schedules, and faces an uphill battle to bowl eligibility, but by now, we should all have learned that doubting Paul Rhoads comes with inherent risks. Namely, a high probability of being incorrect.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Schedule analysis: Kansas Jayhawks

June, 29, 2012
Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. Next up, those new-look Jayhawks in Lawrence.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Nonconference (with 2011 records):
  • Sept. 1: South Dakota State (5-6)
  • Sept. 8: Rice (4-8)
  • Sept. 22: at Northern Illinois (11-3)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 15: TCU (11-2)
  • Oct. 13: Oklahoma State (12-1)
  • Oct. 27: Texas (8-5)
  • Nov. 17: Iowa State (6-7)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 6: at Kansas State (10-3)
  • Oct. 20: at Oklahoma (10-3)
  • Nov. 3: at Baylor (10-3)
  • Nov. 10: at Texas Tech (5-7)
  • Dec. 1: at West Virginia (10-3)
Non-con challenge: Northern Illinois. This is a tough pick. As the 2011 season wore on, KU's win over the Huskies became more and more unbelievable. Northern Illinois eventually won the MAC and finished 11-3 for a very, very good season. Kansas didn't win another game the rest of the season. Now, without all-everything QB Chandler Harnish, Kansas travels to Dekalb, Ill., to try to take on what seems like a perennially underrated team. This one won't be easy.

Gut-check game: at Kansas State. Bill Snyder has completely humiliated KU in each of the past two seasons, turning the Sunflower Showdown into a Sunflower Showcase for the Wildcats, who outscored KU 118-28 in the past two games. Kansas doesn't have to win this one, but it has to make it at least something close to competitive against a very good, very experienced in-state rival. The balance of power in Kansas has completely shifted west to Manhattan.

Chance to impress: at Baylor. No doubt about this one. Kansas should have beaten the Bears last year. Heisman winner Robert Griffin III pulled a ridiculous Houdini act to erase a 21-0 fourth-quarter deficit and force overtime, where Baylor continued its march to a 10-win season. Kansas needs at least one conference win this year, and after playing the Big 12's top five teams in its first five conference games, this may be its first real chance to spring what could be a season-changing, momentum-building upset.

Snoozer: South Dakota State. I will always rail on games between FBS and FCS teams, even though Kansas provided one of the memorable ones in 2010, when North Dakota State knocked off KU, 6-3, in Turner Gill's debut. This one should be nothing like that disaster, but don't expect the Jackrabbits to entirely lay down.

Good luck with that: Texas. Nobody embarrassed KU last year like Texas did, and the Longhorns are coming back for more in Lawrence. The Longhorns should have the league's best running game, and it'll seriously test a suspect front seven at Kansas. Many of those who'll be playing in this game have yet to even participate in a real practice at KU. Meanwhile, the Longhorns should have a very good offensive line and arguably the conference's best offensive backfield.

Final analysis: Kansas finally beat K-State at something: having the toughest schedule we've seen so far. The Jayhawks have to face four 10-win teams on the road this year, and only get four Big 12 games at home. The schedule is heavily front-loaded, which actually sets up Kansas to do some good things late and build into what should be a more productive 2013 season. The first four teams KU plays in conference play all won at least 10 games last year, but Kansas gets its best chances at a conference win in successive weeks in November when it faces Iowa State, Baylor and Texas Tech. All three teams were in trouble against the Jayhawks last season. KU fans would be ecstatic to take two of three from that group. It seems a bit far-fetched now, but we'll see what KU learns about itself during that brutal stretch to begin conference play. Then, of course, KU has to close at West Virginia, which very well may be trying to close out a title, or keep its Big 12 title hopes alive on the season's final weekend. I expect KU to win about four games, but in a league this deep, it's going to have to earn it.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Schedule analysis: Kansas State Wildcats

June, 25, 2012
Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. Next up, those Wildcats in Manhattan.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Nonconference (with 2011 records):
  • Sept. 1: Missouri State (2-9)
  • Sept. 8: Miami (FL) (6-6)
  • Sept. 15: North Texas (5-7)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 6: Kansas (2-10)
  • Oct. 27: Texas Tech (5-7)
  • Nov. 3: Oklahoma State (12-1)
  • Dec. 1: Texas (8-5)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 22: at Oklahoma (10-3)
  • Oct. 13: at Iowa State (6-7)
  • Oct. 20: at West Virginia (10-3)
  • Nov. 10: at TCU (11-2)
  • Nov. 17: at Baylor (10-3)
Non-con challenge: Miami. Last year's game was a classic, with Kansas State taking home the win after a last-second goal-line stand on a muddy field in Miami Gardens. It's time for the Hurricanes to make a return trip now, and Al Golden's team should be improved. Kansas State should win, but Miami's more than capable of exacting a little revenge.

Gut-check game: at Iowa State. These two teams have played classic games in each of the past three years, and Iowa State will be gunning for the Wildcats once again. It's always one of the league's most physical matchups, and that should be the case again. Iowa State has a knack for upsets when we don't expect it. Could the Cyclones start the "Kansas State was overrated in 2011" parade? They'll have a chance.

Chance to impress: at Oklahoma. The skeptics are out for the Wildcats this season. I'm tentatively one of them, but I'm not quite sure how to feel about this team. Want to shut everybody up? Walk into Norman and knock off the Big 12 favorite Sooners. Last year, they lost to OU by 41. Win this game, and there won't be a single doubter remaining for the 2012 team. Kansas State is for real.

Snoozer: Missouri State. I hate these FCS games, and the Bears only wins last year were against Western Illinois and on the road at mighty Youngstown State. Arkansas and Oregon embarrassed them with 40-point wins, and the Wildcats should do something similar.

Good luck with that: at West Virginia. Kansas State's defense has some solid athletes at the top, but the lack of athleticism and speed behind the starters, especially in the secondary, concerns me. West Virginia is going to test every bit of that, with arguably the league's best and deepest corps of receivers. We saw what happened against Oklahoma last year, and the Wildcats gave up 52 to Oklahoma State. Kansas State better bring it, and making matters tougher, they'll be making their first trip to Morgantown.

Final analysis: This is probably the toughest schedule we've seen so far. Kansas State gets just four Big 12 home games, and must travel to face three of the league's top contenders for the title in Oklahoma, West Virginia and TCU. Three of Kansas State's first four Big 12 games are on the road, too. If the Wildcats are still in the driver's seat heading into November, it's still going to be tough. Trips to TCU and Baylor are sandwiched by games against Oklahoma State and Texas, who could both surprise and contend for a Big 12 title. That's not going to be easy, even with Kansas State's odd voodoo over Texas. They may need it this year. Don't be surprised if Kansas State takes the field against Texas on Dec. 1 with a share of the Big 12 title on the line.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.
Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. Next up, those Frogs in Fort Worth.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Nonconference (with 2011 records):
  • Sept. 8: Grambling State (8-4)
  • Sept. 22: Virginia (8-5)
  • Sept. 29: at SMU (8-5)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 6: Iowa State (6-7)
  • Oct. 20: Texas Tech (5-7)
  • Nov. 10: Kansas State (10-3)
  • Dec. 1: Oklahoma (10-3)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 15: at Kansas (2-10)
  • Oct. 13: at Baylor (10-3)
  • Oct. 27: at Oklahoma State (12-1)
  • Nov. 3: at West Virginia (10-3)
  • Nov. 24: at Texas (8-5)
Non-con challenge: at SMU. Bad, bad memories in the Battle for the Iron Skillet from last year for the Frogs. They fell behind early and lost in overtime to the Ponies. The old Southwest Conference rivalry will live on even as TCU enters the Big 12, but if the ball bounces the other way a couple times in that game, and TCU holds on against Baylor last year, the Frogs would have played for a national title. Believe it. Instead, they beat Louisiana Tech in the Poinsettia Bowl. Making matters even more interesting? Former Texas quarterback Garrett Gilbert may be the man behind center for June Jones' offense in Dallas.

Gut-check game: at Oklahoma State. If TCU wants us to take it seriously as a Big 12 title contender (and I'm wavering on that idea with all the offseason distractions and defections), it needs to prove that it's better than Oklahoma State. If it can't those doubts will remain. This game will set the stage for the late-season run, and if TCU can go into Stillwater and come away with a win, especially a convincing one, it'll be time to start taking the Frogs seriously as a challenger to Oklahoma and West Virginia in the title race.

Weird return trip: at Baylor. Baylor and TCU are quite familiar with one another. This will be the third consecutive season the two teams have played, and a second consecutive trip to Waco for the Frogs. There's no RG3 this time after the Heisman winner torched TCU in a thrilling season-opening Friday nighter last year. TCU has no Andy Dalton, who embarrassed Baylor back in 2010 in Fort Worth. This should be a fun one, though.

Snoozer: Grambling State. Texas is the Big 12's only team that didn't schedule an FCS team this year. Grambling isn't a bad team, but still ... To borrow a phrase from Charles Barkley in NBATV's recent Dream Team documentary: "I don't know nothin' about Grambling State, but Grambling State is in trouble."

Chance to impress: at Texas. TCU will play the part of Texas A&M this Thanksgiving, filling the Aggies' spot in that traditional holiday showcase. Eyes will be on the Frogs as they walk into the Big 12's biggest pigskin cathedral against what should be an improving Texas team. Will the Horned Frogs walk out of Darrell K. Royal Stadium as winners, with a shot at the Big 12 title heading into the season's final weekend? It's very possible.

Final analysis: The Frogs are the unfortunate recipients of a four-game Big 12 home schedule this year, and play five away games in the nine-game Big 12 conference schedule. No home game is bigger than the last, though. TCU has a lot to prove, but it gets to host Oklahoma on Championship Saturday, which could very well have serious Big 12 title implications. If I was betting, I'd think very seriously about giving the Frogs a shot to win a share of the Big 12 title with a win over Oklahoma on the season's final weekend. Other than that, it's a pretty balanced schedule, and a solid nonconference schedule for the Frogs, at least by Big 12 standards in a weak year of scheduling outside the league. A decent FCS team, plus two eight-win teams? Not bad, Frogs.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Schedule analysis: Oklahoma

June, 19, 2012
Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. Next up, those Sooners up in Norman.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Nonconference (with 2011 records):
  • Sept. 1: at Texas-El Paso (5-7)
  • Sept. 8: Florida A&M (7-4)
  • Oct. 27: Notre Dame (8-5)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 22: Kansas State (10-3)
  • Oct. 13: Texas (8-5) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas
  • Oct. 20: Kansas (2-10)
  • Nov. 10: Baylor (10-3)
  • Nov. 24: Oklahoma State (12-1)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 6: at Texas Tech (5-7)
  • Nov. 3: at Iowa State (6-7)
  • Nov. 17: at West Virginia (10-3)
  • Dec. 1: at TCU (11-2)
Non-con showcase: Notre Dame. This may not end up being a challenge, but believe it or not, its the best opponent any Big 12 team will play this season, if you believe the preseason rankings. The Fighting Irish face a brutal schedule that includes a trip to Norman, but they're the only preseason top 25 team on a Big 12 team's nonconference schedule all season. Brian Kelly may have a hard time duplicating last year's 8-5 record, but the Sooners and Irish's signature helmets clashing will bleed history on a fall Saturday in Oklahoma.

Gut-check game: Kansas State. Oklahoma rolled in this one by 41 points last year, and most will figure the Sooners should do the same when they host the Wildcats at Owen Field where the Sooners have looked unbeatable so often. The early-season showdown will be the first major test for the Sooners, and K-State could be creeping in on a top 10 ranking versus the top five Sooners. Can Oklahoma prove its worth as a Big 12 title favorite?

Chance to impress: at West Virginia. I don't care if you're not Mountaineer or Sooner-inclined. Circle this date on your calendar. Period. Don't be surprised if this shapes up to be the closest thing we have to the Big 12 title game. Expect offensive fireworks and an absolutely insane crowd in Morgantown. If the Sooners win this one, they'll leave with some big time respect from just about anyone who saw or heard about it.

Snoozer: Florida A&M. Thanks to a sad, shocking scandal, the only attraction in this game won't be in attendance. Apparently A&M doesn't even have a live rattlesnake as a mascot? I feel robbed.

Rivalry redux: Oklahoma State. The Sooners lost to in-state rival Oklahoma State for the first time since 2002 last season. Making matters worse, they lost by 34 points with the Big 12 title and a BCS bid hanging in the balance. Now, the Sooners will try to restore the order in Oklahoma with a much more experienced team with higher expectations, not to mention the Big 12's most experienced passer versus its least experienced passer.

Final analysis: The biggest takeaway from Oklahoma's schedule is just how brutal its finish will be. If the Sooners are going to exit 2012 as Big 12 champs, they're going to earn it in the final month of the season. OU's schedule is a balanced 4-4-1 in terms of home-away-neutral, but there's no question its heavily backloaded, with the toughest stretch coming late in the season. Hosting Baylor won't be easy, but that precedes what could be a season-defining, maiden voyage to Morgantown. Then Oklahoma State comes to town before the Sooners make another trip to solid newcomer TCU to close the season. Buckle your seatbelts in November, Sooner fans.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Schedule analysis: Oklahoma State

June, 18, 2012
Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. Next up, those Cowboys up in Stillwater.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Nonconference (with 2011 records):
  • Sept. 1: Savannah State (1-10)
  • Sept. 8: at Arizona (4-8)
  • Sept. 15: Louisiana-Lafayette (9-4)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 29: Texas (8-5)
  • Oct. 20: Iowa State (6-7)
  • Oct. 27: TCU (11-2)
  • Nov. 10: West Virginia (10-3)
  • Nov. 17: Texas Tech (5-7)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 13: at Kansas (2-10)
  • Nov. 3: at Kansas State (10-3)
  • Nov. 24: at Oklahoma (10-3)
  • Dec. 1: at Baylor (10-3)
Non-con challenge: at Arizona. This will be a fun one, even if Oklahoma State rolls like it has in the matchup between these two teams in each of the past two seasons. OSU knocked off the Wildcats in the Alamo Bowl before embarrassing Arizona again in a game in Stillwater last year, the first of two Stoops brother-coached teams to lose at Boone Pickens Stadium. There's a new man in charge in Tucson, and former West Virginia/Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez will get a chance to prove himself early on. It'll also be a nice challenge in true freshman quarterback Wes Lunt's first road game and first real competition.

Gut-check game: Texas. This will be an early-season crossroads game. Neither team will necessarily prove itself with a win, but these two are just outside the legitimate contenders for the Big 12 title. Win this game, and people will start to take you seriously. It means the same for Texas, but OSU can win a third consecutive game against the Longhorns and sent a shot across the Big 12 that even without Justin Blackmon and Brandon Weeden, it's going to be a force in 2012.

Chance to impress: at Kansas State. Ask Baylor about how easy it is to go into Bill Snyder Family Stadium and get a win. Texas A&M can probably attest to the difficulty, too. OSU snuck out of its own stadium with a win last year in a game it may have lost if there were 30 more seconds on the clock, but the Cowboys were the only team to beat K-State in one of its nine one-score games last season. The Wildcats will be motivated and probably in the top 15. A win on the road for OSU in that scenario? Legit.

Snoozer: Savannah State. These guys went 1-10 in the FCS last season, and now they're signing up to try to beat the reigning Big 12 champs on their home field. Not gonna happen. The only intrigue in this game is how Lunt looks in his first game. Even if he's awful, OSU rolls. It'll be a learning experience for the young gun.

Final analysis: We didn't mention Bedlam yet, but the Thanksgiving weekend game will be a must-see date as the war of words heated up over the offseason. Oklahoma will be a heavy favorite, but Oklahoma State may still have Big 12 title aspirations. OSU gets a five-game home schedule, but plays three 10-win teams from 2011 on the road this season. Baylor won't be a 10-win team this year, but Kansas State and Oklahoma certainly have great shots to do it. Outside of the additional home game, it's a tough final stretch for the Cowboys, who finish the season on the road with trips to OU and Baylor. They also host West Virginia and travel to Kansas State as two more of their final five games. OSU isn't built to win big this year, but it will win, and if it can find a way to win a few of those close games down the stretch, should surprise some people and flirt with nine to 10 wins.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Schedule analysis: Texas

June, 15, 2012
Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. Next up, those Longhorns down in Austin.

See more Big 12 schedule analysis here.

Nonconference (with 2011 records):
  • Sept. 1: Wyoming (8-5)
  • Sept. 8: New Mexico (1-11)
  • Sept. 15: at Ole Miss (2-10)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 6: West Virginia (10-3)
  • Oct. 13: Oklahoma (10-3) at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas
  • Oct. 20: Baylor (10-3)
  • Nov. 10: Iowa State (6-7)
  • Nov. 24: TCU (11-2)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 29: at Oklahoma State (12-1)
  • Oct. 27: at Kansas (2-10)
  • Nov. 3: at Texas Tech (5-7)
  • Dec. 1: at Kansas State (10-3)
Must-see game: Oklahoma. It doesn't matter what the records are or how good either team's going to be. This game is an annual classic soaked in fried dough, turkey legs and corny dogs at the State Fair of Texas. More often than not, this game is about proving a point and stealing the inside track to the Big 12 title. Don't be surprised if that's the case in 2012.

Gut-check game: at Oklahoma State. Neither of these squads are among the favorites to win the Big 12, but both teams have an outside shot at making it happen. Texas has lost two consecutive games to the Cowboys after not losing to OSU since 1944. Both of those were in Austin. OSU is breaking in lots of new faces. Texas is maturing. Want to prove you're back on the way to the top of the Big 12 totem pole? Better win this one, Longhorns.

Chance to impress: West Virginia. Texas will probably be narrowly favored in this game, but West Virginia is the preseason Big 12 media darlings, coming off a 70-point outburst in the Orange Bowl. The Mountaineers have the most explosive offense in the Big 12 and Texas is supposed to have the league's best defense. If Texas truly wants to turn heads, this is the game to make it happen. It'll be playing a top 10-team and an offense loaded with hype. Manny Diaz & Co.? Better shut 'em down.

Snoozer: New Mexico. Texas' schedule, to its credit, is the only one in the Big 12 without an FCS team on the docket. Hats off to Texas in that sense. That said, all the teams Texas does play aren't very good, even if they're reasonably big names. Wyoming very well may be the best team the Longhorns play in nonconference. Ole Miss and New Mexico combined for a whopping three wins last season, and New Mexico might be the worst FBS team in the country. Bob Davie took the job to try to clean it up, but it won't be easy. Texas might run for 1,000 yards in this game alone.

Final analysis: Texas' schedule sets up the Longhorns well for success. They'll face six 10-win teams in 2012, but four of them come to Austin. The Longhorns have had their problems in Lubbock, but Texas Tech will struggle to stop the run, and two-win Kansas takes up one of Texas' four road trips. The Longhorns have their balanced 4-4-1 home-away-neutral schedule thanks to the Cotton Bowl date against Oklahoma. In the new Big 12, which employs nine-game, round-robin conference schedules, the difference between the toughest and easiest schedules is minuscule. That said, Texas is definitely on the easier end of the spectrum this season. It'll need to mature as last year's freshman invasion on offense become sophomores.

Schedule analysis: West Virginia

June, 14, 2012

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.

Schedule analysis: Texas Tech

June, 13, 2012
Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. First up, those Red Raiders out in Lubbock.

Nonconference (with 2011 records):
  • Sept. 1: Northwestern State (5-6)
  • Sept. 8: at Texas State (6-6)
  • Sept. 15: New Mexico (1-11)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 6: Oklahoma (10-3)
  • Oct. 13: West Virginia (10-3)
  • Nov. 3: Texas (8-5)
  • Nov. 10: Kansas (2-10)
  • Nov. 24: Baylor (10-3) at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Away Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 29: at Iowa State (6-7)
  • Oct. 20: at TCU (11-2)
  • Oct. 29: at Kansas State (10-3)
  • Nov. 17: at Oklahoma State (12-1)
Chance to impress: Oklahoma. The Sooners are coincidentally the last team Texas Tech beat in 2011 before losing its final five games, including four losses by at least 24 points. The Red Raiders get to host Oklahoma, which they embarrassed in 2009, the last time the Sooners traveled to Lubbock. Tech is 2-1 in its last three games versus the Sooners, and an early-season win would go a long way in convincing just about everyone that the Red Raiders are bowl bound.

Gut-check game: at Iowa State. Can you even call this a trap game? Iowa State knocked off Texas Tech in each of the past two seasons, including a 41-7 laugher in Lubbock that signaled the beginning of the end in 2011. Iowa State will be mostly the same team, and if Tech can't go to Ames and get a win, the Red Raiders will be dismissed early on, and Tommy Tuberville's seat will get very, very warm.

Snoozer: Take your pick. To each his own, Texas Tech, but you should be ashamed. In a league full of cupcake schedules, the Red Raiders are the worst offenders. New Mexico is a mess. Texas State is in its first year in the WAC after being independent in 2011 and Northwestern State is an FCS team. Pitiful. No, I don't care that Tech is playing at Texas State.

Day of reckoning: at TCU. Texas Tech hasn't played a nonconference game against a major-conference opponent since 2003, but TCU in 2011 would have been a tough matchup. Last January, though, Texas Tech squirmed out of the game and played Texas State, New Mexico and Nevada instead. Expect the Horned Frogs' fans to remind Texas Tech of that game, and plenty others from the old Southwest Conference in this rivalry renewal.

Final analysis: Texas Tech has a well-placed 4-4-1 conference schedule, featuring four home games, four away games and one game at a neutral site. With a nine-game conference schedule, neutral-site games are a nice move to help balance out the schedule and not have to play five road games in conference in a given season. It's the same format Texas Tech had last year, and it's a pretty balanced schedule. It's tough to simply look at the win-loss records of each team and figure out much. Every team in the Big 12's schedule is going to look loaded based on 2011 results, because the league has three conference champions and six 10-win teams suiting up in 2012. Outside of its awful nonconference schedule, Texas Tech will be pretty balanced. Expect the Red Raiders to make a bowl game, but if the ball bounces the other way in a few games, they could easily slip to 5-7 again.