Dallas Colleges: 2011 schedule analysis

Schedule analysis: Texas Tech

June, 13, 2011
Time for more schedule analysis, as promised. Here's a look at our next team in line: The Red Raiders of Lubbock.

Nonconference (with 2010 records):
  • Sept. 3: Texas State (4-7)
  • Sept. 17: at New Mexico (1-11)
  • Sept. 24: Nevada (13-1)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 8: Texas A&M (9-4)
  • Oct. 15: Kansas State (7-6)
  • Oct. 29: Iowa State (5-7)
  • Nov. 12: Oklahoma State (11-2)
  • Nov. 26: Baylor (7-6) at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Away Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 1: Kansas (3-9)
  • Oct. 22: Oklahoma (12-2)
  • Nov. 5: Texas (5-7)
  • Nov. 19: Missouri (10-3)
Gut-check game: Kansas State. Kansas State is the team in the Big 12 of which I'm least sure what to expect (somewhere between 3-10 wins). Texas Tech is the team of which I'm most sure what to expect (7-8 wins). We'll have a good feel for both after this game, the first moderate conference test for the Red Raiders after an easy matchup at KU and an extremely tough game at Jones AT&T stadium against A&M (ampersands for everyone!).

Trap game: Iowa State. I'm sure Texas Tech fans don't need a reminder of what went down in Ames last year, but you can't count the Cyclones out of a return trip to Lubbock. Like last season, Paul Rhoads' team knows it will need to upset a few folks to get in a bowl game, and if the Red Raiders' defense isn't a lot better than last season by mid-October, it could be another headache for Tech.

Snoozer: New Mexico. The Lobos had a case in 2010 as the worst team in the FBS, and even if they improve, there's no way they'll be good enough to make the Red Raiders sweat. Tech beat them 52-17 in Albuquerque last season, and expect a similar beatdown on the return trip.
Chance to impress: Texas A&M. I've put the Aggies on upset alert for this one, and that'll continue unless either team proves to be substantially different than what it seems heading into the season. Texas Tech is good for one inexplicable shocker in Lubbock a season, and Texas A&M could fall victim. In 2008, it knocked Texas out of the national title race. In 2009, it beat Oklahoma by four touchdowns. In 2010, it beat a top 15 Missouri team after falling behind 14-0. Beware, Texas A&M. Beware.

Upset special: Oklahoma State. Or will the Cowboys fall victim? Two-thirds of the top three teams in the Big 12 visit Lubbock, and Oklahoma State visits in the middle of an uninspiring set of conference games leading up to the showdown against Oklahoma. OSU won in Lubbock last season for the first time since 1944, but the Big 12 scheduling kinks require a return trip. Will those ghosts return?

Analysis: Texas Tech, by way of its neutral-site game, is one of six Big 12 teams with a 4-4-1 schedule set up. That said, the road schedule for the Red Raiders is absolutely brutal. Texas Tech doesn't need a reminder of its struggles in Norman (45-7, 65-21, 34-24, 28-13 in its past four visits), winning at Missouri will be difficult, and lest we forget, Texas beat Texas Tech in Lubbock last season to move to 3-0 before the wheels fell off. That's a tough draw on the road, even if Texas isn't back to its usual self. I see Texas Tech making a bowl game somewhat safely, but the road schedule, plus visits from likely top 15 teams Oklahoma State and Texas A&M (news flash: life in the new Big 12 is going to be hard) will keep them from making a real run at a Big 12 title, especially for a team spending its time relying on offensive skill position players who have never carried a team before.
Click here for more Big 12 schedule analysis.

Schedule analysis: Texas A&M

May, 23, 2011
The Big 12's full schedule isn't out yet, but a few teams across the league have released their individual schedules. In no particular order, we'll take a look at them.

Next up: Let's take a look at the Aggies of College Station.

Nonconference (with 2010 records):
  • Sept. 4: SMU (7-7)
  • Sept. 17: Idaho (6-7)
  • Oct. 1: Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas (10-3)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 24: Oklahoma State (11-2)
  • Oct. 15: Baylor (7-6)
  • Oct. 29: Missouri (10-3)
  • Nov. 19: Kansas (3-9)
  • Nov. 24: Texas (5-7)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 8: Texas Tech (8-5)
  • Oct. 22: Iowa State (5-7)
  • Nov. 5: Oklahoma (12-2)
  • Nov. 12: Kansas State (7-6)
Gut-check game: Oklahoma State. It was a toss-up game last year, and it should be a toss-up once again. Last year's Thursday night game was an instant classic, and I'd expect a similar, high-scoring affair once again. The winner gets the inside track on a BCS berth. The Cowboys played one of their worst offensive halves during the first half of this game last season, but adjusted and won 38-35. The offense scored 24 points in the second half, and the defense added seven more by returning a Jerrod Johnson fumble 63 yards for a score -- one of Johnson's five turnovers on the night. I'd expect this one to go down to the wire once again. The 12th Man could prove valuable.

Trap game: Texas Tech. After narrowly losing to Arkansas in 2010, Texas A&M played by far its worst game of the year the following week. The Aggies were trampled at home by Missouri, 30-9, and fell to 3-3. This season, after an Arkansas game I'd pick them to lose as of right now (that whole no wins over SEC teams in six tries since 1995 is tough to ignore), the Aggies have to travel to always-dangerous Lubbock to face a hungry Texas Tech team with an offense that should still be solid and a defense that may be starting to figure itself out in early October. The Red Raiders nipped Missouri in Lubbock last year, and somebody always seems to leave Lubbock with a shocking loss.

Snoozer: Idaho. No Nathan Enderle? No shot. And even then, it was a long one. Turnovers made a date with Florida International in College Station last year turn scary, but this is a more mature Texas A&M team, at least one mature enough not to fool around with Vandals. Or at least I'd like to think so.

Non-con challenge: Arkansas. This is a great rivalry for both sides. The Hogs finally cracked the BCS for the first time in 2010, and the Aggies will try to get back for the first time since 1998. Both teams face an uphill climb in their conferences, but it's entirely possible that both could be in the BCS as at-large bids. Year three of a 10-year series deal -- that could stretch to 30 years -- should be another great game with a fantastic split-crowd and a bowl-game atmosphere in Cowboys Stadium.

Chance to impress: Oklahoma. I've alluded to it previously, but there's a trend in Norman. When the Sooners and their fans sense their nation's best 36-game home winning streak could be in jeopardy, they answer in a big way. Oklahoma has blown out the three biggest threats in each of the past three seasons -- Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Florida State -- and I'd expect the same thing to happen to the Aggies when they travel to Norman. (For what it's worth, the Aggies lost 65-10 the last time they made the trip, in 2009.) All good things must come to an end, but I believe a good Big 12 team that is perhaps underestimated early in the season will slay the giant. My guess is the loss won't come in a marquee game like this.

Analysis: All things considered, it's a pretty balanced home-away schedule for the Aggies, who get a favorable 5-4 home-away balance in this round of conference schedules. The Aggies also have one of the Big 12's toughest nonconference schedules, kicking it off with a marquee Sunday game on the opening weekend against an improving SMU team. We'll talk best/worst case scenarios as the season creeps closer, but the Aggies' schedule is loaded with swing games that will ultimately decide if they end their season in Arizona as Big 12 champs prepping for the Fiesta Bowl, or a middle of the pack team headed for the Insight Bowl.

Click here for more Big 12 schedule analysis.
The Big 12's full schedule isn't out yet, but a few teams across the league have released their individual schedules. In no particular order, we'll take a look at them.

Next up: The Sooners of Norman.

Nonconference (with 2010 records):
  • Sept. 3: Tulsa (10-3)
  • Sept. 17: at Florida State (10-4)
  • Oct. 1: Ball State (4-8)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 24: Missouri (10-3)
  • Oct. 8: Texas (5-7)--at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas
  • Oct. 22: Texas Tech (8-5)
  • Nov. 5: Texas A&M (9-4)
  • Nov. 12: Iowa State (5-7)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 15: Kansas (3-9)
  • Oct. 29: Kansas State (7-6)
  • Nov. 19: Baylor (7-6)
  • Dec. 3: Oklahoma State (11-2)
Gut-check game: at Florida State. Winner doesn't take all, but it does get early season validation as a national title contender, and perhaps the favorite. The Sooners rolled the 'Noles in Norman last year, but both of Oklahoma's losses last season were road games in primetime in tough environments. This will be another one.

Preliminary hurdle: Texas A&M. The Aggies' shot at the Sooners takes its billing below Bedlam for two reasons: One, it's in Norman, where the Sooners have been known to transform into an NFL team. That's especially true when fans recognize that the 36-game home winning streak is in jeopardy and respond with big-time performances of their own. Ask Texas Tech in 2008 (65-21), Oklahoma State (27-0) in 2009 and Florida State (47-17) in 2010. All three posed big home threats, the biggest of the season for the Sooners. All three left with lopsided losses. Can Texas A&M buck the trend?

Snoozer: Ball State. Brady Hoke helped the Cardinals reach bowl games in 2008 and 2009. After he left, the Cardinals lost to Liberty in 2010. It's hard to imagine this team going from that to anything close to competing with Oklahoma in Norman. If you're a mean/ignorant person and insist on having your wedding or major family event on a fall home football Saturday in Oklahoma, your guests won't be as mad at you if you schedule it on Oct. 1.

Trap game: Missouri. Avenging last season's loss should be motivation enough, but the Sooners will be coming off an amped-up game against Florida State and returning home. Beating Oklahoma was one hump for the Tigers last season, but winning in Norman would be another. If the Sooners play at least close to their potential, they should win, but Missouri is one of the team's on Oklahoma's schedule with a realistic chance to beat the Sooners at home this season. For an alternate trap game, see the Sooners' return trip to Baylor on Nov. 19. They had something to prove in Waco last season. Not the case this season.

Must-see date: Oklahoma State. Last season's was a classic, and this season's should be the same. Plenty of offense to go around, and the Big 12 season finale might be a major player in more than just the Big 12 standings. How about the Heisman, Biletnikoff Award, Davey O'Brien Award and Big 12 Offensive Player of the Year? It's possible that all four could hang in the balance on the final Saturday night of the season in Stillwater, and be decided on the field.

Analysis: The Sooners' neutral-site date with Texas gives them a 4-4-1 home-away schedule, and it's fairly balanced, despite having to make return trips to both Stillwater and Waco, where Oklahoma won last season. The Sooners' nonconference schedule should rank among the Big 12's toughest, but the schedule is spaced out well.

The Florida State-Missouri back to back is probably the toughest two-week stretch for the Sooners, but every other big game is separated by at least one that Oklahoma should be heavily favored to win. The schedule hardly sets up a national title run, but it won't make one inordinately difficult, either.

Click here for more Big 12 schedule analysis.

Schedule analysis: Oklahoma State

May, 10, 2011
The Big 12's full schedule isn't out yet, but a few teams across the league have released their individual schedules. In no particular order, we'll take a look at them.

First up: Let's take a look at the Pokes of Stillwater.

Nonconference (with 2010 records):
  • Sept. 3: Louisiana-Lafayette (3-9)
  • Sept. 8: Arizona (7-6)
  • Sept. 17: at Tulsa (10-3)
Home Big 12 games:
  • Oct. 8: Kansas (3-9)
  • Oct. 29: Baylor (7-6)
  • Nov. 5: Kansas State (7-6)
  • Dec. 3: Oklahoma (12-2)
Away Big 12 games:
  • Sept. 24: Texas A&M (9-4)
  • Oct. 15: Texas (5-7)
  • Oct. 22: Missouri (10-3)
  • Nov. 12: Texas Tech (8-5)
  • Nov. 18: Iowa State (5-7)
Gut-check game: At Texas A&M. Last year, we didn't know how good either of these teams were at the end of the Cowboys' 38-35 win. It ended up deciding the Big 12 South. Had Texas A&M won, the Aggies would have won the division outright. This season, they'll get their shot in College Station, and the winner of this game could go on to a BCS berth. Texas A&M fans probably couldn't help but ask themselves what would have happened last season had Ryan Tannehill started, instead of Jerrod Johnson, who accounted for four interceptions and a fumble returned for a touchdown. We'll find out in this early season clash between two possible top 10 teams that will sort out the top of the new, divison-less Big 12.

Trap game: Baylor. The Bears will have two chances to prove themselves before their game in Stillwater at Boone Pickens Stadium. After TCU to open the season and Texas A&M before OSU, the Bears will come off a bye with what they hope is a renewed defense looking to erase an embarrassing lopsided loss on the same field in 2010.

Snoozer: Kansas. Last season, Kansas played pretty well against the Cowboys and kept it close early, leading after the first quarter and trailing just 20-14 at half. Then the Jayhawks were outscored 28-0 in the second half of the late-season matchup in Lawrence. Kansas should be better this season, but nowhere near good enough to make it interesting in Stillwater.

Non-con challenge: Arizona. Laugh if you must, Cowboys fans. But I recall a Nebraska team that laughed when it got matched up with Washington in a bowl game a few months after beating it by five touchdowns on the Huskies' home field. The Cowboys rolled over the Wildcats, 36-10, in the Alamo Bowl, capping off an 0-5 finish for Mike Stoops' team. But his quarterback, Nick Foles, is back. So is his best receiver, Juron Criner, a possible All-American and the best receiver in the Pac-12. It's hard to imagine Stoops, a defensive coach, not learning plenty from the bowl game, and the Cowboys will be facing their first real test of the season.

Must-see date: Oklahoma. Oklahoma State got the best break of any team in the Big 12 with the new nine-game conference schedule. Because of the tweaking to the schedule, the Sooners have to play in Stillwater for a second consecutive season, and last season's game decided the Big 12 South. This season's game, moved to championship weekend and likely set for prime time, could decide the Big 12 or even more.

Analysis: Big 12 teams better get used to unbalanced schedules in the new league setup. That means five road games and four home games, a sometimes overlooked aspect of a nine-game conference schedule. Teams that schedule ambitiously in nonconference play better do it with a home game. Oklahoma State caught a break with the Sooners' return north, but will be one of the league's teams that has to hit the road five times in conference play. A short drive east to Tulsa will be a tougher early season test than it sounds, but it's a solid nonconference schedule and a league schedule that sets the Cowboys up to do well.