- Jake Trotter, ESPN Staff Writer
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Below is a breakdown of the rest of the opening weekend in the Big 12 (all times Eastern):
No. 4 Baylor at SMU, ESPN and ESPN Watch App: The Bears will be eager to take the field after a tumultuous preseason that included the sexual assault conviction of DE Sam Ukwuachu. Baylor QB Seth Russell will be making just his second start, though he gained plenty of experience backing up Bryce Petty the past two seasons. SMU has a new coach in Chad Morris, but Baylor has 11 straight wins against the Mustangs, including last year’s 45-0 victory in Waco, Texas. The last time SMU beat Baylor was in 1986, the year before the program was given the NCAA "death penalty," barred from play for recruiting violations.
South Dakota State at Kansas, Fox Sports Net: Kansas' David Beaty era kicks off in Lawrence in maybe the only game the Jayhawks will be favored to win all season. Montell Cozart won the starting QB competition in the preseason after returning starter Michael Cummings was injured in the spring. There will be plenty of new faces on the field for Kansas. The Jayhawks have the fewest returning starters of any team from a Power 5 conference.
Sam Houston State at Texas Tech, Fox Sports Net: Kliff Kingsbury has yet to name a starting QB, though all signs point to Patrick Mahomes getting the first snap behind center. Last season Mahomes replaced Davis Webb after Webb suffered an injury late in the year, and he played well, throwing for almost 600 yards and six touchdowns in a near upset of Baylor. The Red Raiders struggled in their opener against FCS opponent Central Arkansas last year, and Sam Houston State is one of the top FCS programs in the country, ranked fourth in the preseason FCS polls.
Georgia Southern at West Virginia: The Mountaineers defense faces a tricky test in Week 1 against Georgia Southern, which operates a spread option offense. The defending Sun Belt Conference champs led the nation in rushing last year. The Eagles, however, will be without QB Kevin Ellison, who was suspended for Georgia Southern's first two games.
Akron at No. 19 Oklahoma, Fox pay-per-view: Baker Mayfield is the man in Norman after beating out Trevor Knight and Cody Thomas for the Sooners' starting QB job. Mayfield was the Big 12 Offensive Freshman of the Year at Texas Tech in 2013, but sat out all of last year. This is Akron’s first-ever game against a Big 12 team since the conference formed in 1996. The Zips have also never defeated an AP-ranked opponent (0-21 all-time).
South Dakota at Kansas State, K-StateHD.tv: Earlier this week, Bill Snyder named Jesse Ertz his starter at quarterback; Ertz won a four-way competition with Joe Hubener, Alex Delton and Jonathan Banks. Though a third-year player, Ertz has never attempted a pass in college.
Texas at No. 11 Notre Dame, NBC: Texas is in unfamiliar ground, opening a season unranked for the first time in 12 seasons. Underscoring their recent slide, the Longhorns have struggled against ranked opponents, going just 4-19 in their 23 meetings against teams ranked in the AP poll. Texas and Notre Dame are two of the most storied programs in college football. If the Longhorns could pull the upset, they would actually move into a tie with Notre Dame for the second-most wins in NCAA history.
Northern Iowa at Iowa State, Cyclones.tv: The Cyclones have dropped two straight home openers to FCS opponents, including two years ago to Northern Iowa. Iowa State will need to keep quarterback Sam B. Richardson upright; he's battled nagging injuries the past two seasons, which has limited his performance. Richardson gives Iowa State a veteran, though. Only TCU's Trevone Boykin has more starts among conference players.