Big 12: 2014 Big 12 game rankings

Ranking Big 12 games: Part V

July, 18, 2014
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.

Ranking Big 12 games: Part IV

July, 17, 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.

Ranking Big 12 games: Part III

July, 16, 2014
As we await Big 12 media days next week, we're taking this week to rank all 75 Big 12 games, both in and out of conference, from worst to first.

Today we continue with Nos. 45-31:

No. 45. Kansas at Duke (Sept. 13): The Blue Devils are coming off an appearance in the ACC title game, but if the Kansas defense plays up to its potential, the Jayhawks might have a chance to make this one interesting.

No. 44. Minnesota at TCU (Sept. 13): Minnesota won eight games last year while TCU lost eight. But with the bulk of a stout defense returning, the Horned Frogs should have the better team in 2014.

No. 43. West Virginia at Texas Tech (Oct. 11): This was one of the more exciting games in the league last year. With a fourth-quarter comeback, Tech moved into the top 10 of the polls, while West Virginia won just once the rest of the year. This could be another fork-in-the-road matchup for both squads.

No. 42. West Virginia at Oklahoma State (Oct. 25): If Oklahoma State QB J.W. Walsh plays this season the way he did last year at West Virginia, the Cowboys will be in major trouble.

No. 41. Oklahoma State at TCU (Oct. 18): Oklahoma State will finally travel to Fort Worth after playing host to TCU the last two years.

No. 40. TCU at SMU (Sept. 27): Playing the Mustangs every year in this mild Metroplex rivalry has been a positive for TCU athletic director Chris Del Conte, who has one fewer game to worry about scheduling.

No. 39. TCU at West Virginia (Nov. 1): In their two meetings as Big 12 members, the Horned Frogs and Mountaineers have played three overtimes -- with the road team prevailing both times.

No. 38. Oklahoma at West Virginia (Sept. 20): To the relief of Oklahoma defensive coordinator Mike Stoops, Tavon Austin is not expected to be inside Milan Puskar Stadium this time.

No. 37. Kansas State at Iowa State (Sept. 6): As the first Big 12 game of the conference season, Farmageddon will get the limelight it warrants.

No. 36. Baylor at Iowa State (Sept. 27): Iowa State got spanked in Waco last year. But this game is in Ames, where the Cyclones often take highly ranked teams to the brink. Plus, the Bears could get caught looking ahead to a clash at Texas the following weekend.

No. 35. Oklahoma at Iowa State (Nov. 1): Iowa State got spanked in Norman last year. But this game is in Ames, where the Cyclones often take highly ranked teams to the brink. Plus, the Sooners could get caught looking ahead to a clash with Baylor the following weekend.

No. 34. West Virginia at Texas (Nov. 8): The Mountaineers and Longhorns have staged two thrilling finishes the last two years. West Virginia's trip to Austin two years ago was the last time the Mountaineers' faithful felt secure about their standing in the Big 12.

No. 33. Kansas State at West Virginia (Nov. 20): The Wildcats have bludgeoned West Virginia 55-14 and 35-12 in their two conference meetings. But a November trip to Morgantown on a Thursday night will not be an easy one for K-State.

No. 32. Iowa State at Texas (Oct. 18): The Cyclones -- and coach Paul Rhoads -- are still fuming at last year's no-call fumble at the goal line that essentially handed Texas the win. Iowa State will be out for revenge.

No. 31. SMU at Baylor (Aug. 31): Welcome to McLane Stadium, home of the Baylor Bears.

Ranking Big 12 games: Part II

July, 15, 2014
As we wait for Big 12 media days, we're taking this week to rank all 75 Big 12 games, both in and out of conference, from worst to first. Factors that went into the selection process included quality of opponent, interest level and expected competitiveness.

We got started with the bottom 15.

Today we continue with the next 15, Nos. 60-46:

No. 60. Texas Tech at UTEP (Sept. 6): UTEP played its old Border conference rival from the 1950s tough in meetings in 2006 and 2007.

No. 59. Oklahoma at Tulsa (Sept. 6): Even though this is technically a road game for the Sooners, there will be twice as much crimson as Hurricane blue.

No. 58. TCU at Kansas (Nov. 15): I don't remember a single thing about this game last year, which tells you how compelling it was.

No. 57. North Texas at Texas (Aug. 30): The first game of the Charlie Strong era.

No. 56. Iowa State at Kansas (Nov. 8): Maybe the Jayhawks' best chance of landing a conference win.

No. 55. Kansas at Texas Tech (Oct. 18): The Jayhawks are 1-14 all-time against the Red Raiders who, after a slow start, crushed Kansas in Lawrence last season.

No. 54. Oklahoma State at Kansas (Oct. 11): In the Cowboys' previous trip to Kansas, the Jayhawks had the ball in Oklahoma State territory in the fourth quarter with a chance to win.

No. 53. Iowa State at TCU (Dec. 6): Scheduled the final week of the season, this game will get more attention. As ugly as last year's meeting was between these two teams -- there were 21 punts -- that's not a good thing.

No. 52. North Dakota State at Iowa State (Aug. 30): The Bison pulled off a stunner at Kansas State with a game-winning drive in the fourth quarter last season. Can the three-time defending FCS champs knock off another Big 12 member in an opener?

No. 51. Texas at Kansas (Sept. 27): Kansas has hung tough with the Longhorns over the years, but has spectacularly failed to get a final stop (notably in 2012 and 2004). As a result, Texas has won 11 in a row.

No. 50. Iowa State at Oklahoma State (Oct. 4): The Cowboys have coasted past Iowa State twice now since dropping the 2011 heartbreaker that ultimately bounced them from the national title game.

No. 49. Texas Tech at Iowa State (Nov. 22): Traveling to Ames late in the year is part of another brutal November schedule for Tech that also includes Texas, Oklahoma and Baylor.

No. 48. West Virginia at Iowa State (Nov. 29): The Big 12 is clearly attempting to make this game a Thanksgiving tradition, with the previous two meetings falling on Thanksgiving weekend.

No. 47. Kansas at Kansas State (Nov. 29): One of the only Big 12 rivalries that's more important on the hardwood than the field.

No. 46. Kansas at West Virginia (Oct. 4): The Mountaineers will be out for blood after last season's debacle in Lawrence, while Kansas will look for its first winning streak against a Big 12 opponent since defeating Iowa State back-to-back in 2008 and 2009.

Ranking Big 12 games: Part I

July, 14, 2014
This week, the Big 12 football season begins (sort of) with Big 12 media days in Dallas. We’re ranking all 75 games in the league, both in conference and out, from worst to first.

Factors include quality of opponent, interest level and expected competitiveness.

We’ll get started with the bottom 15, then work our way to the top.

No. 75: Northwestern (Louisiana) State at Baylor (Sept. 6): The only compelling storyline in this one is whether Bryce Petty can get the Bears to 100. Last year, Northwestern State had the 74th-ranked pass defense -- in the FCS.

No. 74: Southeast Missouri State at Kansas (Sept. 6): Kansas coach Charlie Weis is guaranteed one win this season, and this is it. Southeast Missouri State is coming off a 3-9 record playing in the Ohio Valley Conference.

No. 73: Missouri State at Oklahoma State (Sept. 6): Missouri State is just the tonic the Cowboys will need after their opener with Florida State. As an aside, these two teams staged the first regular-season overtime game in college football history, with Oklahoma State escaping with a 23-20 victory in 1996.

No. 72: Central Arkansas at Texas Tech (Aug. 30): While West Virginia and Oklahoma State will be facing powers Alabama and Florida State, Tech QB Davis Webb will be getting warmed up against the Bears, who went 7-5 in the Southland Conference last year.

No. 71: Samford at TCU (Aug. 30): The Horned Frogs get a chance to test their new up-tempo offense against a middling FCS team. This will also be an opportunity for defensive end Devonte Fields to work his way back without much pressure after missing virtually all of the 2013 season because of a broken foot.

No. 70: Stephen F. Austin at Kansas State (Aug. 30): This game is mildly interesting, only because K-State lost last year’s opener to FCS school North Dakota State. Then again, Stephen F. Austin was among the worst teams in the FCS last year, while North Dakota State was the best.

No. 69: UTEP at Kansas State (Sept. 27): K-State could be coming off an emotional letdown after its clash with Auburn the week before. Of course, UTEP’s only two wins last season came against 1-11 Florida International and 2-10 New Mexico State.

No. 68: Louisiana Tech at Oklahoma (Aug. 30): This will be QB Trevor Knight's first appearance since shredding Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, so it'll be the first glimpse at whether Knight will be able to carry that level of play into this season.

No. 67: Kansas at Baylor (Nov. 1): In 2007, the Jayhawks hammered Baylor 58-10 on their way to the Orange Bowl. The Bears didn’t win a game in the Big 12 that season. How times have changed.

No. 66: Towson at West Virginia (Sept. 6): Games against Alabama and Maryland are why West Virginia’s nonconference schedule is considered the toughest in the league. But the Mountaineers had better not overlook Towson, which is coming off an appearance in the FCS national title game.

No. 65: Baylor at Buffalo (Sept. 12): The Bulls don’t have linebacker Khalil Mack anymore.

No. 64: Central Michigan at Kansas (Sept. 20): Central Michigan has 19 returning starters, but this is a winnable game for the Jayhawks, and probably a must-win if Kansas is to build off last year’s win total of three.

No. 63: Kansas at Oklahoma (Nov. 22): The Jayhawks gave Oklahoma a game in Lawrence last season. But since Bob Stoops’ arrival in 1999, the closest Kansas has ever gotten is a two-touchdown loss.

No. 62: Toledo at Iowa State (Oct. 11): This could be a dangerous game for the Cyclones, who are rebuilding on defense and revamping on offense. The Rockets return 16 starters and are a contender in the MAC.

No. 61: UTSA at Oklahoma State (Sept. 13): J.W. Walsh's best performance of 2013 came against UTSA. Maybe the Roadrunners can get the Oklahoma State QB cooking again.