Big 12: 2014 Big 12 road trip

We've reached the final week of the season. Here's hoping the 2014 season finale matches the 2013 finale, which ended up featuring two games that decided the destination of the Big 12 title.

For the past few weeks, we've taken a closer look at the 2014 Big 12 schedule during our Big 12 Ultimate Road Trip series. This week, we'll wrap up the series with the final stretch of the regular season.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

We conclude the series with Week 15.

Dec. 6

Kansas State at Baylor
Oklahoma State at Oklahoma
Iowa State at TCU

Jake Trotter’s pick: Oklahoma State at Oklahoma

Kansas State-Baylor is no slouch of a matchup. But I’m ending my ultimate road trip by going to the Big 12 game that has produced the best drama and most thrilling finishes over the last decade – and that's Bedlam.

In 2004, Bedlam came down to a missed field goal in the final seconds.

In 2006, a failed heave in the end zone as time expired.

In 2008, a fourth-quarter shootout.

In 2010, four touchdowns in the game’s final four minutes.

In 2012, an overtime comeback.

And last year, a game-winning touchdown pass in the final seconds from a third-string quarterback.

The Red River Showdown remains the biggest rivalry in the Big 12.

But Bedlam has been Big 12’s best rivalry over the last decade -- and not one I want to miss.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Kansas State at Baylor

It’s tough to turn down Bedlam, but the Wildcats' matchup with the Bears is just as intriguing.

It wouldn’t be a major surprise if this matchup had CFB Playoff implications and should have Big 12 championship ramifications at the very least.

The Wildcats will be ending the season with their third road game in four contests while the Bears will be coming off a bye week.

The last two Big 12 BCS bowl representatives each return proven quarterbacks, elite receivers and strong defensive lines. BU’s Bryce Petty could find himself in the thick of the Heisman race at this point, and KSU’s Tyler Lockett could be cementing his All-American status. I’ll get to watch two of the Big 12’s best players for one last time.

I’m expecting plenty of points with two of the best offenses in the conference meeting in what promises to be a beautiful venue, McLane Stadium. It’s the perfect way to end my Big 12 Ultimate Road Trip schedule.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)
Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State
Week 3: Trotter -- Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon -- Tennessee at Oklahoma
Week 4: Trotter -- Auburn at Kansas State; Chatmon -- Auburn at Kansas State
Week 5: Trotter -- Texas Tech at Oklahoma State; Chatmon -- Baylor at Iowa State
Week 6: Trotter -- Baylor at Texas; Chatmon -- Baylor at Texas
Week 7: Trotter -- Texas vs. Oklahoma; Chatmon -- TCU at Baylor
Week 8: Trotter -- Kansas State at Oklahoma; Chatmon -- Oklahoma State at TCU
Week 9: Trotter -- Texas Tech at TCU; Chatmon -- Texas at Kansas State
Week 10: Trotter -- Texas at Texas Tech; Chatmon -- TCU at West Virginia
Week 11: Trotter -- Baylor at Oklahoma; Chatmon -- Baylor at Oklahoma
Week 12: Trotter -- Oklahoma at Texas Tech; Chatmon -- Texas at Oklahoma State
Week 13: Trotter --Kansas State at West Virginia; Chatmon -- Kansas State at West Virginia
Week 14: Trotter -- Baylor vs. Texas Tech; Chatmon -- TCU at Texas
Happy Thanksgiving! We've reached the holiday season.

For the past few weeks, we've taken a closer look at the 2014 Big 12 schedule during our Big 12 Ultimate Road Trip series. This week, we'll wrap up the series with the final stretch of the regular season.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let's continue with Week 14.

Week 14

TCU at Texas
Kansas at Kansas State
Baylor vs. Texas Tech (AT&T Stadium in Arlington)
West Virginia at Iowa State

Jake Trotter’s pick: Baylor vs. Texas Tech

Fourth of July is coming up. But on Thanksgiving weekend, there will be another fireworks show in Arlington, Texas.

Last season, Baylor and Texas Tech combined for 97 points, and it’s not unthinkable that both offenses will be even more potent in 2014.

This game will also pit one of the best pure passing quarterbacks in the country in Baylor’s Bryce Petty against one of the best young pure passing quarterbacks in the country in Texas Tech’s Davis Webb.

Coaches Art Briles and Kliff Kingsbury are friends off the field, dating to when Briles was an assistant and Kingsbury was a quarterback at Texas Tech. But that doesn’t mean they don’t want bragging rights in this game, either.

The AT&T Stadium jumbotron will be on overdrive replaying all of the big-time offensive plays made in this game, which could be won by the team that puts up 60 first.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: TCU at Texas

A Thanksgiving day game in Austin, Texas? What could be better?

This should be a great game with two of the Big 12’s top defensive ends, Cedric Reed of Texas and Devonte Fields of TCU, in action. I'd rather see Reed and Fields in action than watch Petty and Webb battle it out in Arlington.

We’ll know a lot more about this Texas team in its final home game of the season. Either the future will look extremely bright after a run toward Big 12 title contention or there wil lbe murmurs about the hiring of Charlie Strong after another disappointing campaign.

For TCU, a bowl appearance is critical in 2014, and this game could be the deciding factor. I wouldn’t think of going to this game if I didn’t believe the Horned Frogs will improve on their 4.5 yards per play against the Longhorns in their past two meetings.

TCU’s offense could have a good rhythm by this point, making a head-to-head battle with Strong’s defense very intriguing, and the Longhorns offense has more than enough playmakers to test TCU’s defense.

I’m expecting a back-and-forth game with plenty of big plays and lead changes to keep everyone engaged. No post-turkey nap needed.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)
Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State
Week 3: Trotter -- Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon -- Tennessee at Oklahoma
Week 4: Trotter -- Auburn at Kansas State; Chatmon -- Auburn at Kansas State
Week 5: Trotter -- Texas Tech at Oklahoma State; Chatmon -- Baylor at Iowa State
Week 6: Trotter -- Baylor at Texas; Chatmon -- Baylor at Texas
Week 7: Trotter -- Texas vs. Oklahoma; Chatmon -- TCU at Baylor
Week 8: Trotter -- Kansas State at Oklahoma; Chatmon -- Oklahoma State at TCU
Week 9: Trotter -- Texas Tech at TCU; Chatmon -- Texas at Kansas State
Week 10: Trotter -- Texas at Texas Tech; Chatmon -- TCU at West Virginia
Week 11: Trotter -- Baylor at Oklahoma; Chatmon -- Baylor at Oklahoma
Week 12: Trotter -- Oklahoma at Texas Tech; Chatmon -- Texas at Oklahoma State
Week 13: Trotter --Kansas State at West Virginia; Chatmon -- Kansas State at West Virginia
Week 13 features some interesting matchups but no clear game of the week.

For the past few weeks, we've taken a closer look at the 2014 Big 12 schedule during our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series. This week, we'll wrap up the series with the final stretch of the regular season.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let’s continue with Week 13.

Nov. 20-22

Kansas State at West Virginia
Oklahoma State at Baylor
Kansas at Oklahoma
Texas Tech at Iowa State

Jake Trotter’s pick: Kansas State at West Virginia

Two years ago at West Virginia, Kansas State proved it was a Big 12 title contender while the Mountaineers showed they were just a pretender. Ever since, these two programs have been going in opposite directions.

This is almost a must-win for West Virginia if it wants to get back to a bowl game, and a must-win for Dana Holgorsen if he wants to show athletic director Oliver Luck he has the Mountaineers back on track. West Virginia has talent in the backfield and at wide receiver, and the defense could be sneaky good under the Tony Gibson/Tom Bradley regime. But the Mountaineers better hope a quarterback has emerged (Clint Trickett? Paul Millard? Skyler Howard? William Crest? Logan Moore?) well before this game comes around.

K-State has an open date before and after this trip to West Virginia, which bodes well. When Bill Snyder has time to prepare, the Wildcats can be tough to beat (just ask Michigan). If K-State can escape Morgantown, that season finale at Baylor could loom large.

You won’t find a prettier drive than the one along the country roads from Pittsburgh to Morgantown. I can’t wait to make it again.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Kansas State at West Virginia

A Thursday night game in Morgantown, W. Va.? Yes, please.

Both teams have a bye week before this weekday matchup, meaning the bumps and bruises of the season could have time to heal. This allows both coaching staffs, which feature some of the conference’s most creative minds, some time to come up with new wrinkles for each other as well.

If the Mountaineers’ quarterback situation is not settled by this point, I have little hope for a great game. If it is, I expect a great game. WVU could be fighting for a bowl appearance, and K-State could be fighting for quite a bit more.

To top it off, a potential matchup between WVU cornerback Daryl Worley, who I think is poised for a breakout sophomore season, and KSU receiver Tyler Lockett, who I think is the Big 12’s most dynamic receiver, is enough to make a trip to Milan Puskar.

A great environment, great individual matchups and two hungry teams make this the game of the week.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)

Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State

Week 3: Trotter -- Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon -- Tennessee at Oklahoma

Week 4: Trotter -- Auburn at Kansas State; Chatmon -- Auburn at Kansas State

Week 5: Trotter -- Texas Tech at Oklahoma State; Chatmon -- Baylor at Iowa State

Week 6: Trotter -- Baylor at Texas; Chatmon -- Baylor at Texas

Week 7: Trotter -- Texas vs. Oklahoma; Chatmon -- TCU at Baylor

Week 8: Trotter -- Kansas State at Oklahoma; Chatmon -- Oklahoma State at TCU

Week 9: Trotter -- Texas Tech at TCU; Chatmon -- Texas at Kansas State

Week 10: Trotter -- Texas at Texas Tech; Chatmon -- TCU at West Virginia

Week 11: Trotter -- Baylor at Oklahoma; Chatmon -- Baylor at Oklahoma

Week 12: Trotter -- Oklahoma at Texas Tech; Chatmon -- Texas at Oklahoma State
Texas and Oklahoma face tough road tests as we enter the final few weeks of the season.

For the past few weeks, we've taken a closer look at the 2014 Big 12 schedule during our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series. This week, we'll wrap up the series with the final stretch of the regular season.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let’s continue with Week 12.

Nov. 15

Texas at Oklahoma State
TCU at Kansas
Oklahoma at Texas Tech

Jake Trotter’s pick: Oklahoma at Texas Tech

Depending on how the Red Raiders fare in road tests at Oklahoma State, Kansas State and TCU, this mid-November tilt could hold Big 12 title implications on either side. At the very least, it could be a huge roadblock standing in the path of Oklahoma’s Big 12 title and playoff hopes.

Traditionally, Lubbock has been a disaster zone for the Sooners, who at one point fell to Tech three straight times at Jones AT&T Stadium.

In 2005, a controversial call at the goal line lifted the Red Raiders to a game-winning touchdown. In 2007, quarterback Sam Bradford was knocked out of the game with a concussion in the first quarter of another Oklahoma loss. And in 2009, Tech simply obliterated the Sooners, who wore Nike combat uniforms that afternoon.

Oklahoma played one of its best games of the 2012 season in a victory in Lubbock. But over the years Tech has given the Sooners as many problems as any team in the conference.

This will be a prime spot for Kliff Kingsbury to earn a program-defining conference win and a chance for me to wolf down another Blue Sky cheeseburger.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Texas at Oklahoma State

I have a feeling this will end up being a critical game for both teams.

It will be the third road game in four weeks for Texas and the lone home game for OSU during a season-ending four-game stretch, which includes trips to Baylor and Oklahoma.

The Cowboys are 3-2 against the Longhorns over the past five seasons but, surprisingly, have not beaten UT at Boone Pickens Stadium since 1997. The last time UT played in Stillwater, Okla., David Ash had the moment of his career, leading the Longhorns to a controversial late win in a game that also could be considered the best of J.W. Walsh's career. If both quarterbacks are still taking the snaps for their respective teams, odds are it’s been a pretty good season in both Stillwater and Austin, Texas.

Simply put, I want to go to this contest because games like these show us what the coaches and players in both programs are truly about. Both teams will be physically and mentally exhausted. There will be no surprises, as both teams will be well-scouted by each other, and both teams will need a win.

And I like the odds for another great game between the two teams, so I’m making a trip to BPS hoping that it won’t be as chilly as my last couple of visits against Baylor and Oklahoma last season.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)

Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State

Week 3: Trotter -- Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon -- Tennessee at Oklahoma

Week 4: Trotter -- Auburn at Kansas State; Chatmon -- Auburn at Kansas State

Week 5: Trotter -- Texas Tech at Oklahoma State; Chatmon -- Baylor at Iowa State

Week 6: Trotter -- Baylor at Texas; Chatmon -- Baylor at Texas

Week 7: Trotter -- Texas vs. Oklahoma; Chatmon -- TCU at Baylor

Week 8: Trotter -- Kansas State at Oklahoma; Chatmon -- Oklahoma State at TCU

Week 9: Trotter -- Texas Tech at TCU; Chatmon -- Texas at Kansas State

Week 10: Trotter -- Texas at Texas Tech; Chatmon -- TCU at West Virginia

Week 11: Trotter -- Baylor at Oklahoma; Chatmon -- Baylor at Oklahoma
It's championship time.

For the past few weeks, we've taken a closer look at the 2014 Big 12 schedule during our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series. This week, we'll wrap up the series with the final stretch of the regular season.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let’s continue with Week 11.

Nov. 8

Iowa State at Kansas
Kansas State at TCU
West Virginia at Texas
Baylor at Oklahoma

Jake Trotter’s pick: Baylor at Oklahoma

Where else would I be this weekend? This showdown could be for all the marbles in the Big 12, and possibly a de facto elimination game for inclusion in the inaugural College Football Playoff.

After the way Baylor whipped the Sooners in Waco last year, Memorial Stadium will be especially -- as Bob Stoops terms it -- “raucous” for what could be Oklahoma's biggest home game since second-ranked Texas Tech came to town in 2008. And the Sooners will be aiming to pay back Baylor the way they paid back Tech in that “jump around” 44-point blowout six years ago that catapulted Oklahoma into the national title game.

Of course, these Bears could be the best squad to waltz into Norman since the Graham Harrell-Michael Crabtree Red Raiders of '08. And with Eric Striker and Oklahoma’s attacking defense squaring up against Bryce Petty and Baylor’s big-play offense, this has all the makings of a Big 12 classic.

I’ll be starting the day at the Greek House on Campus Corner for a pregame gyro before dashing over to what should be one of the games of the year in all of college football.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Baylor at Oklahoma

The easiest pick of the year.

My preseason co-favorites square off at Oklahoma Memorial Stadium with the Sooners looking to avenge their 41-12 shellacking at the hands of Art Briles’ team in 2013 and the Bears looking to show everyone their Big 12 title run was no fluke.

NFL talent will be all over the field with Baylor quarterback-receiver duo Bryce Petty and Antwan Goodley going head-to-head with a stout Sooners defense led by Striker along with defensive ends Charles Tapper and Geneo Grissom.

What happens when the Sooners have the ball will likely decide the game, with the Bears' defense and Sooners' offense as the wild cards for each team heading into the fall. Oklahoma sophomore Trevor Knight will try to show he’s the best quarterback on the field despite Petty’s presence, and Baylor's defensive line will aim to affirm Briles’ belief that they’re among the nation’s top units.

Those two teams have split the last four meetings, with both squads winning twice at home. Could Baylor end the trend? I can’t wait to find out.
We've reached November, and the home stretch of the season is upon us.

Last week, we kicked off our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series. This week, we journey deeper into the 2014 schedule.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let’s continue with Week 10.

Nov. 1

Oklahoma State at Kansas State
Texas at Texas Tech
Kansas at Baylor
TCU at West Virginia
Oklahoma at Iowa State

Jake Trotter’s pick: Texas at Texas Tech

Six years ago in Jones Stadium, Texas Tech downed the top-ranked Longhorns to secure arguably the biggest win in school history. The stakes won’t be quite as high this time around. But this will still be a monster game for both teams.

Texas will have already played BYU, UCLA, Baylor, Oklahoma and Kansas State by the time this Nov. 1 trip to Lubbock rolls around, meaning this could be a must-win for the Longhorns.

Texas Tech, meanwhile, will be out for revenge after getting completely pulverized in Austin last Thanksgiving. The Red Raiders also need this win to avoid setting the stage for yet another late-season slide. Texas Tech’s schedule in November also includes bouts against Big 12 co-favorites Oklahoma and Baylor as well as a visit to Iowa State, where the temperatures will be far from conducive to throwing the ball 60 times.

Tortillas will be flying around for this one -- as will the fried cheese over at Spanky’s.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: TCU at West Virginia

These two teams tend to play great games, so I’m hoping that trend continues.

The 2012 matchup in Morgantown, W. Va., was a 39-38 overtime barn-burner full of exciting plays and NFL talent, capped off with a game-winning 2-point conversion for TCU. In 2013, the Big 12's latest additions played another overtime thriller, with WVU coming out on top.

This season, the Mountaineers and Horned Frogs will battle at Milan Puskar Stadium for the second time since they joined the conference, with both teams placing their hopes for offensive success on the shoulders of “Air Raid” style attacks.

At this point, both teams should have a settled situation at quarterback, which could make for a great game. There’s a great chance Trevone Boykin will be one of the best offensive threats on the field -- it’s just a matter of where he’s lining up. West Virginia’s stable of running backs should be well on their way to making a mark on the Big 12.

I’m going to hope both offenses are humming and arrive in Morgantown with the expectation of a third straight great game involving TCU and West Virginia.
The home stretch of the season is nearly upon us.

Last week, we kicked off our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series. This week, we journey deeper into the 2014 schedule.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let’s continue with Week 9.

Oct. 25

West Virginia at Oklahoma State
Texas Tech at TCU
Texas at Kansas State

Jake Trotter’s pick: Texas Tech at TCU

Arguably the strangest Big 12 game last season, Texas Tech knocked off the Horned Frogs with a late Davis Webb touchdown pass amid a series of bizarre fourth-quarter calls.

The 2014 version of this old Southwest Conference rivalry will feature one of the budding passing attacks in the country against a tenacious and deep secondary. The Red Raiders will want to turn this into a shootout. Even with their new offense, the Horned Frogs will try to make the game a grinder like last season's.

Another compelling storyline to watch in this one: former Texas Tech QB and assistant Sonny Cumbie (now TCU’s co-offensive coordinator) going up against his alma mater, and the staff he coached with last season.

You can best believe both sides will pull out all the stops to win what will be a pivotal game for either team.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Texas at Kansas State

The other two games on the Big 12 schedule are interesting, but watching Bill Snyder’s Wildcats try to return to their winning ways against the Longhorns tops the list of conference games in Week 9.

The Wildcats' recent success is well-documented, winning five of the last six meetings between the two teams including three straight wins in Manhattan, Kan. But the Longhorns' lone win was a 31-21 triumph last September which sparked their run to the pseudo-Big 12 title game at Baylor on the final day of the 2013 regular season.

K-State’s battle with UT comes in the midst of a tough five-game stretch, sandwiched between games with Texas Tech and Oklahoma before UT’s visit followed by Oklahoma State and TCU after Charlie Strong’s squad comes to Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Strong’s Longhorns will be looking to show they can to be a good road team in just their second road contest of the season to this point. The game at K-State kicks off a stretch of three of four games on the road and will go a long way to determining where UT ends up in the standings.

It will also be intriguing to see how Snyder’s underrated offense goes about attacking Strong’s defense in a game that could drastically shift the fortunes of either team.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)

Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State

Week 3: Trotter -- Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon -- Tennessee at Oklahoma

Week 4: Trotter -- Auburn at Kansas State; Chatmon -- Auburn at Kansas State

Week 5: Trotter -- Texas Tech at Oklahoma State; Chatmon -- Baylor at Iowa State

Week 6: Trotter -- Baylor at Texas; Chatmon -- Baylor at Texas

Week 7: Trotter -- Texas vs. Oklahoma; Chatmon -- TCU at Baylor

Week 8: Trotter -- Kansas State at Oklahoma; Chatmon -- Oklahoma State at TCU
Heading into Week 8, the conference schedule is in full swing as we start getting a better feel for what the championship race will look like in November.

Last week, we kicked off our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series. This week, we journey deeper into the 2014 schedule.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let’s continue with Week 8.

Oct. 18

Baylor at West Virginia
Kansas at Texas Tech
Iowa State at Texas
Kansas State at Oklahoma
Oklahoma State at TCU

Jake Trotter’s pick: Kansas State at Oklahoma

The last time the Wildcats traveled to Norman, they dimmed Oklahoma’s Big 12 title hopes while lighting a blaze to their own.

Could this be a chance for K-State déjà vu?

Under coach Bill Snyder, the Wildcats have played Oklahoma tough in Norman, culminating with that 24-19 upset two years ago. This will also be the third in a three-game mini-gauntlet for the Sooners, who face Texas and a road trip to TCU in the two weeks before the Kansas State game. If it wins all three games, including this K-State matchup, Oklahoma might have a chance to all but clinch the Big 12 crown on Nov. 8 against Baylor.

But if the Wildcats emerge victorious in Norman for the second straight trip, it might be Kansas State -- not Oklahoma -- with a chance to vie for the conference crown when it travels to Waco, Texas, on Dec. 6.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Oklahoma State at TCU

The Cowboys' first Big 12 trip to Amon G. Carter Stadium should be interesting.

In their first two seasons in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs had back-to-back trips to Stillwater, Oklahoma, thanks to a quirk in the conference schedule. OSU has never played at TCU in a conference game.

One of the Big 12’s top offenses (OSU) against one of the Big 12’s top defenses (TCU) is a good reason for me to make a trip to Fort Worth, Texas.

The midway point of the season means we’ll know a lot more about OSU and how the rebuilding season for Mike Gundy’s squad has progressed. The Cowboys could be the surprise of the league, or they could be licking their wounds with an eye on playing the spoiler role during the home stretch of the season.

OSU won the last two meetings by a combined score of 60-24, helped by seven TCU turnovers, and the Cowboys averaged 5.8 yards per play against the Horned Frogs the past two seasons. That success, however, happened at Boone Pickens Stadium. Conference road games are a different test.

TCU will have faced Baylor and Oklahoma in its previous two outings, making this a game that could be critical for both teams' bowl hopes. With five games under its belt, the Horned Frogs’ new offense could be humming by this point in the season.

There are other several good games this week, but OSU-TCU could be the most competitive of the bunch.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter — SMU at Baylor; Chatmon — West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)

Week 2: Trotter — Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon — Kansas State at Iowa State

Week 3: Trotter — Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon — Tennessee at Oklahoma

Week 4: Trotter — Auburn at Kansas State; Chatmon — Auburn at Kansas State

Week 5: Trotter — Texas Tech at Oklahoma State; Chatmon — Baylor at Iowa State

Week 6: Trotter -- Baylor at Texas; Chatmon -- Baylor at Texas

Week 7: Trotter -- Texas vs. Oklahoma; Chatmon -- TCU at Baylor
The best week of the season thus far features a long-standing rivalry and another rivalry that is quickly gaining steam after an intense encounter in 2013.

Last week, we kicked off our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series. This week, we journey deeper into the 2014 schedule.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let’s continue with Week 7.

Oct. 11

Toledo at Iowa State
West Virginia at Texas Tech
Oklahoma State at Kansas
Texas vs. Oklahoma (in Dallas)
TCU at Baylor

Jake Trotter’s pick: Oklahoma vs. Texas

It’s really too bad the TCU-Baylor game falls on the same weekend as the Red River Showdown. That’s a game I really, really, really want to see after TCU coach Gary Patterson last year squared off against coach Art Briles at midfield, then Baylor safety Ahmad Dixon in the post-game press conference. If that weren't enough to generate interest, this would also be a clash of the league’s most explosive offense against arguably its top defense.

But alas, the OU-Texas (to those of you north of the Red River) or Texas-OU game (for those of you to the south) is just too preeminent to pass up. Even though the Longhorns hammered the Sooners last year, Texas’ numerous fiascos in the Cotton Bowl over the years were part of Mack Brown’s ultimate undoing.

How the Longhorns perform in this game will go a long way in setting the tone for the Charlie Strong era among burnt orange nation.

On the other sideline, the Sooners will be out for blood after getting humiliated in Dallas last year. But this will also be an opportunity on the big stage for Oklahoma to show the rest of the country -- and the College Football Playoff committee -- that it is in fact a bona fide national title contender.

Along with the Iron Bowl and Ohio State-Michigan, this remains one of the three best rivalries in all of college football. And it also doesn’t hurt that the State Fair of Texas serves the best corny dogs in all the world.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: TCU at Baylor

The Big 12’s top offense faces one of the conference’s top defenses with the backdrop of Briles-Patterson making things even more interesting.

This game is simply too good to pass up.

TCU felt like it gave the game away in its narrow 41-38 loss to the Big 12 champions last season. And the Horned Frogs could be right.

Baylor’s 4.11 yards per play against TCU’s defense was easily its worst output of the 2013 season, and the Horned Frogs’ four turnovers included two interception returns for touchdowns.

If TCU can remove those self-inflected wounds, this could be one of the best games of the 2014 season.

The Bears, meanwhile, won’t take kindly to Patterson’s post-game comments. This rivalry continues to blossom, and one of the best things about the dislike between the two coaches is that both are among the best in the business -- Briles at putting together explosive offenses and Patterson at creating stout defenses.

Add my first trip to Baylor’s brand-new digs at McLane Stadium and this is a win-win in every way for me. National attention may be on the Red River Showdown, but my attention will be focused on the best game of the day in Waco, Texas.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)

Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State

Week 3: Trotter -- Texas vs UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon -- Tennessee at Oklahoma

Week 4: Trotter -- Auburn at Kansas State; Chatmon -- Auburn at Kansas State

Week 5: Trotter -- Texas Tech at Oklahoma State; Chatmon -- Baylor at Iowa State

Week 6: Trotter -- Baylor at Texas; Chatmon -- Baylor at Texas
Big 12 play is well underway with a schedule full of conference games.

Last week, we kicked off our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series. This week we continue with the bulk of the 2014 schedule.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let's continue with Week 6.

Oct. 4

Baylor at Texas
Kansas at West Virginia
Iowa State at Oklahoma State
Texas Tech at Kansas State
Oklahoma at TCU

Jake Trotter’s pick: Baylor at Texas

This renewed rivalry got another boost in the spring when Texas linebacker Steve Edmond, unprompted, called Baylor “trash.” Bears offensive tackle Troy Baker responded by posting a picture of the Big 12 championship trophy on Twitter and writing, “I love this trash too.”

After conference realignment destroyed several of the Big 12’s rivalries (Texas-Texas A&M, Oklahoma-Nebraska, Kansas-Missouri, Kansas State-Nebraska, Texas Tech-Texas A&M) the league needs some of its games to generate more heat. The Baylor-Texas game should bring plenty of that this season.

By knocking off the Bears, the Longhorns could recover some of their lost standing in the Big 12 the last five years. By taking down Texas for the fourth time in five years, Baylor could keep its thumb on its neighbors to the south, while remaining on the collision course showdown against Oklahoma on Nov. 8 to determine the Big 12 crown.

There will be plenty of heat in Austin for this game. And for me, plenty of barbeque, too.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Baylor at Texas

This clash between Baylor and Texas is too good to pass up.

Charlie Strong gets the chance to send a clear message against a Bears squad that is used to sending the Longhorns home with an L.

Edmond’s words made it clear that Baylor, despite its recent winning ways against the Longhorns, still has a ways to go before it has the respect it must think it’s already earned. Expect the Bears to arrive in Austin, Texas with a huge chip on their shoulder and feeling disrespected.

Meanwhile, Strong can start showing the Big 12 his plan to return UT to national title contention is progressing quicker than most expect with a win over the defending champions.

Intense rivalry. NFL talent. Great coaching.

There are plenty of good reasons to spend Week 6 at Darrell K. Royal Stadium, so I can’t wait to head to Austin.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)

Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State

Week 3: Trotter -- Texas vs UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon -- Tennessee at Oklahoma

Week 4: Trotter -- Auburn at Kansas State; Chatmon -- Auburn at Kansas State

Week 5: Trotter -- Texas Tech at Oklahoma State; Chatmon -- Baylor at Iowa State
Conference play is beginning to pick up, meaning more fun and tougher decisions.

Last week, we kicked off our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series. This week, we journey deeper into the 2014 schedule.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let's continue with Week 5.

Sept. 25-27

Texas Tech at Oklahoma State
Baylor at Iowa State
UTEP at Kansas State
TCU at SMU
Texas at Kansas

Jake Trotter’s pick: Texas Tech at Oklahoma State

One of the biggest games of the early Big 12 season includes another Thursday night clash.

Oklahoma State has dominated this series lately, winning the last five meetings against Texas Tech by an average margin of four touchdowns a game.

But the Red Raiders are riding a wave of momentum in Kliff Kingsbury’s second season after toppling Arizona State in their bowl game. Texas Tech will feature one of the best young quarterbacks in the country in sophomore Davis Webb, who will be looking for revenge after getting outgunned by Pokes QB Clint Chelf in Lubbock last year.

This will be a fork-road game for both programs. Oklahoma State is breaking in several new starters this season, but the talent is still there for the Cowboys to win at least eight or nine games. It’s difficult, meanwhile, to envision Texas Tech breaking out this year and becoming a dark-horse Big 12 title contender without pulling off this September win in Stillwater.

Oklahoma State-Texas Tech has featured some classic shootouts, particularly when they’ve played in Stillwater. I’ll be looking for more fireworks from “The Boone.”

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Baylor at Iowa State

Could this be another home upset of a ranked team by the Cyclones?

The unexpected can happen when highly regarded Big 12 squads venture into Jack Trice Stadium just ask the 2011 Oklahoma State Cowboys, who saw their BCS title hopes take a major hit after ISU’s upset win over Brandon Weeden and company.

Last year’s 71-7 Bears’ triumph makes many scoff at the thought of the Cyclones pulling off the upset. But Paul Rhoads crew could have some things on their side.

Baylor could be looking ahead with its first battle with Charlie Strong’s Texas squad the following Saturday and the Cyclones, having already faced Kansas State and Iowa, should be more battle tested than BU heading into the fourth game of the year for both squads.

If Baylor gets up early, things could get out of hand, which would be fine because any opportunity to watch the Big 12’s best quarterback-receiver duo, Bryce Petty and Antwan Goodley, in action is worth the trip. If not, don’t count the Cyclones out.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)

Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State

Week 3: Trotter -- Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon -- Tennessee at Oklahoma

Week 4: Trotter -- Auburn at Kansas State; Chatmon -- Auburn at Kansas State
A full slate of Big 12 games is on the horizon, but not before arguably the best nonconference matchup involving a Big 12 squad in 2014.

Last week we kicked off our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series, and the decisions seem to get harder as we journey deeper into the 2014 schedule.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let's continue with Week 4.

Sept. 18-20

Auburn at Kansas State
Oklahoma at West Virginia
Central Michigan at Kansas

Jake Trotter’s pick: Auburn at Kansas State

The Big 12 collectively will play several big-time opponents during the nonconference schedule, and this might be the league’s best chance of landing a marquee victory.

Auburn is the reigning SEC champ and just narrowly lost to Florida State in the final national title game of the BCS era. With quarterback Nick Marshall back to run the show, the Tigers could be even more lethal in their second year operating Gus Malzahn's hurry-up, no-huddle offense.

K-State, however, could be lethal, too. Jake Waters continued his rapid development at quarterback through the spring, and Auburn will have its hands full dealing with his favorite target -- All-American candidate wideout Tyler Lockett. (The Tigers, by the way, were next to last in the SEC in pass defense last year.)

Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be rocking during this Thursday night showdown. In my ultimate road trip, I’d be in the Little Apple to see it.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Auburn at Kansas State

Save me a seat alongside Mr. Trotter, because the Little Apple seems like the place to be.

OU’s trip to Morgantown to face West Virginia is intriguing, but watching Bill Snyder’s team try to shock the world against Auburn is too good to pass up.

Auburn will bring terrific speed and several playmakers to its toughest nonconference test, but the Wildcats will bring plenty of playmakers of their own, including Lockett, Waters and safety Dante Barnett. If the Wildcats can limit the Tigers’ big plays, K-State could pull off the upset. But it will be easier said than done with Snyder’s squad having to replace linebacker Blake Slaughter and safety Ty Zimmerman, who both finished in the top five in tackles on the team in 2013.

Slowing Marshall and Malzahn won’t be easy, but the Wildcats' overlooked defensive line, led by defensive end Ryan Mueller and defensive tackle Travis Britz, could make a name for itself in this contest.

And winning in Manhattan, Kansas, won’t be easy for the 2013 SEC champions, particularly on a Thursday night in what should be a hostile and rowdy environment at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)

Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State

Week 3: Trotter -- Texas vs UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon -- Tennessee at Oklahoma
The college football offseason is way too long. But we’re here to help with your suffering. With spring ball done and the season still months away, we’re giving you a taste of the 2014 season, with the long-awaited Big 12 Ultimate Road Trip series.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on a number of factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let’s continue with Week 3.

Sept. 12-13

Baylor at Buffalo
West Virginia at Maryland
Kansas at Duke
Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington, Texas)
UTSA at Oklahoma State
Minnesota at TCU
Iowa State at Iowa
Arkansas at Texas Tech
Tennessee at Oklahoma

Jake Trotter’s pick: Texas vs. UCLA (Arlington, Texas)

In Week 3, I’m headed to Arlington, Texas, to get a glimpse of what the Longhorns will be made of under coach Charlie Strong.

UCLA will likely be in the top 10 in the polls for this game, giving the Stronghorns a tremendous opportunity to earn back national respect.

Of course, such a difficult early-season schedule could also set the stage for another calamitous start for Texas.

With BYU the week before, and Big 12 co-favorites Baylor and Oklahoma looming the first two weeks of October, it’s not unthinkable the Longhorns could get off to a 2-4 start.

But a win over the Bruins could send a loud message that Texas is on the way back.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Tennessee at Oklahoma

I strongly considered a trip to Lubbock, Texas, to see the other SEC vs. Big 12 battle in Week 3, Arkansas at Texas Tech.

But the opportunity to see the Vols try to derail OU’s College Football Playoff hopes was too good to ignore.

This will be Trevor Knight's first opportunity on a big stage to prove his Sugar Bowl performance was no fluke but, instead, a sign of things to come. The sophomore played like a Heisman Trophy candidate in the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama but played like a redshirt freshman for much of the rest of his debut season in 2013. This game will show if he’s taking steps toward consistency.

Tennessee will have enough athletes to give the Sooners trouble if OU doesn’t bring its “A” game. And the Vols will be carrying SEC pride on their shoulders because, as a team that finished in the bottom half of the conference last fall, they are exactly the type of SEC squad OU coach Bob Stoops has questioned when wondering about the overall depth of the SEC.

The Vols can send a message or Stoops can say “I told you so.”

And I’ll be on hand to see it all.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs Alabama (Atlanta)

Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State
The college football offseason is way too long. But we’re here to help with your suffering. With spring ball done and the season still months away, we’re giving you a taste of the 2014 season, with the long-awaited Big 12 Ultimate Road Trip series.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on a number of factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.

Let’s continue with Week 2.

Sept. 6

Kansas State at Iowa State
Missouri State at Oklahoma State
Oklahoma at Tulsa
Northwestern State at Baylor
BYU at Texas
Towson at West Virginia
Southeast Missouri State at Kansas
Texas Tech at UTEP

Jake Trotter’s pick: Kansas State at Iowa State

I’m intrigued by how the Longhorns might fare against BYU in their first test with Charlie Strong as coach, but when you get the opportunity to go to “Farmageddon,” well, you go.

Also the Big 12 opener for the entire conference, this tilt will quietly be a potential landmine game for the Wildcats, who justifiably have Big 12 title aspirations. Those aspirations will go right out the window with a loss to Iowa State the second week of the season.

Ames, Iowa, however, has been a difficult place to play under coach Paul Rhoads, who has masterminded a few upsets during his tenure. This Iowa State team should feature the best collection of offensive talent Rhoads has ever enjoyed, and he’ll have a proven coordinator calling the shots in Mark Mangino.

Tyler Lockett and Kansas State should be able to score points against a young, inexperienced Iowa State defense. But Bill Snyder’s defense will be put to the test, too, in what could be an early season conference thriller.

Someone save me a seat at Hickory Park.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Kansas State at Iowa State

Conference play already? Big 12 play gets off to an early start in Ames with plenty of intrigue.

Does Kansas State have enough playmakers to make a Big 12 title run? Did its 2013 struggles give Iowa State enough experience to make a bowl run?

This game will start to answer some of those questions.

Jake Waters and Lockett give the Wildcats one of the Big 12’s top quarterback-receiver duos, but the search for additional playmakers will continue into August. KSU’s secondary also will be under the spotlight against an ISU offense that features several top targets, including receiver Quenton Bundrage and tight end E.J. Bibbs.

The Iowa State quarterback situation should have sorted itself out by this point, so the Cyclones could be poised to surprise if Mangino’s offense can get quality play from behind center. But it won’t matter if an inexperienced defense, particularly the defensive line, cannot hold up against the Wildcats’ physical offensive front.

The beauty of this conference game is the unsettled nature of both teams as they search for their identities early in the season, yet the familiarity of the programs with one another, thus making the outcome much harder to predict. It all combines to make a trip to Ames a perfect plan for Week 2.

Previous weeks:

Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs Alabama (Atlanta)
The college football offseason is way too long. But we’re here to help with your suffering. With spring ball done and gone and the season still months away, we’re giving you a taste of the 2014 season, with the long-awaited Big 12 Ultimate Road Trip series.

To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget was unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.

We’ll be basing our choices on a number of factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that both of us can only pick one game per week.

Let's begin with Week 1.

Here's the schedule:

Aug. 30-31

Central Arkansas at Texas Tech
Stephen F. Austin at Kansas State
North Dakota State at Iowa State
North Texas at Texas
Louisiana Tech at Oklahoma
Samford at TCU
West Virginia vs. Alabama (Atlanta)
Oklahoma State vs. Florida State (Arlington, Texas)
SMU at Baylor

Jake Trotter’s pick: SMU at Baylor

It was tempting to go with either Florida State-Oklahoma State or West Virginia-Alabama. But with both Big 12 teams being heavy underdogs in those games, I settled on seeing the debut of the Jewel of the Brazos.

The $266 million McLane Stadium could be a game-changer for Baylor, which has had to overcome playing in (and recruiting to) an archaic, off-campus Floyd Casey Stadium. Now, Baylor will be armed with one of the finest stadiums in the entire Big 12, with the individuality of being located along the Brazos River. If only I can hook up with a “sailgate” party before heading up to the press box.

The opportunity to check out the defending Big 12 champs is another reason to head to Waco on Week 1.

We all know about quarterback Bryce Petty and wideout Antwan Goodley. But I’m intrigued to see Baylor’s array of young talent in person, including running back Johnny Jefferson, receivers Corey Coleman, K.D. Cannon and defensive tackle Andrew Billings.

Plus, since the Baylor-SMU game is on a Sunday, I’ll be able to watch the entire opening Saturday of college football -- including Florida State-Oklahoma State and West Virginia-Alabama -- on the tube.

Brandon Chatmon’s pick: West Virginia vs. Alabama (Atlanta)

I strongly considered a trip to Arlington, Texas, to check out Florida State-Oklahoma State but instead a trip to The ATL gets the nod.

Dana Holgorsen vs. Nick Saban? Sign me up.

Seeing how Holgorsen’s squad opens the season against a Crimson Tide team looking send a message after a surprising Sugar Bowl loss to Oklahoma is an intriguing prospect. It’s the Mountaineers first chance to state their intent to force themselves into the Big 12 title conversation against a team that has been in the national title race for the past few seasons.

The amount of talent on the field at the Georgia Dome will be astronomical with Alabama’s roster full of NFL talent and West Virginia’s group of young, yet talented playmakers.

Running backs Wendell Smallwood and Dreamius Smith should be fun to watch, while cornerback Daryl Worley and safety Karl Joseph could make highlight plays in the secondary. And the Mountaineers have a class full of potential impact newcomers who could see the field for the first time.

The Mountaineers have the skill position talent to hold their own against the Crimson Tide, but their offensive and defensive lines will decide their success. I won’t be heading to this game expecting an upset but, if the Mountaineers find a quarterback, stranger things have happened.

While Trotter heads to Waco, Texas, I’d gladly be Georgia-bound as the combination of talent, upset potential and coaching storylines make this is the marquee game in the Big 12 during opening weekend.

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