Tuesday, May 27, 2014
Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip: Week 1
By Brandon Chatmon
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:
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
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.
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.
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.