Power Ranking Non-Conference Schedules in the Big 12
1. Texas Longhorns: Aug. 30, North Texas Mean Green (9-4); Sept. 6, BYU Cougars (8-5); Sept. 13, UCLA Bruins (10-3).
Why: Charlie Strong has his work cut out for him in his first year in Austin, as Texas takes on three bowl winners from 2013—and none will be considered a sure-lock win this coming fall.
2. West Virginia Mountaineers: Aug. 30, Alabama Crimson Tide (11-2); Sept. 6, Towson Tigers (13-3); Sept. 13, Maryland Terrapins (7-6).
Why: If Dana Holgorsen thought last season was stressful, I’m interested to know what he thinks about West Virginia’s opener against the Tide.
3. Iowa State Cyclones: Aug. 30, North Dakota State Bison (15-0)*; Sept. 13, Iowa Hawkeyes (8-5); Oct. 11, Toledo Rockets (7-5).
Why: Even though Chris Bohl left for Wisconsin, I’m sure the FCS three-peating Bison will be favored against Iowa State.
4. Baylor Bears: Aug. 30, SMU Mustangs (5-7); Sept. 6, Northwestern Wildcats (5-7); Sept. 13, Buffalo Bulls (8-5).
Why: Can the Bears drop 209 points on its three non-conference foes like it did last year? With Bryce Petty and a multitude of offensive weapons returning, I wouldn’t put it past them.
5. Oklahoma State Cowboys: Aug. 30, Florida State Seminoles (14-0); Sept. 6, Missouri State Bears (5-7)*; Sept. 13, UTSA Roadrunners (7-5).
Why: It doesn’t get much more difficult than facing the defending national champions, but Missouri State and UTSA waters things down quite a bit.
6. Oklahoma Sooners: Aug. 30, Louisiana Tech Bulldogs (4-8); Sept. 6, Tulsa Golden Hurricane (3-9); Sept. 13, Tennessee Volunteers (5-7).
Why: If the Sooners are going to lose a game in 2014, it doesn’t look like it will come away from the Big 12.
7. Kansas State Wildcats: Aug. 30, Stephen F. Austin Lumberjacks (3-9)*; Sept. 18, Auburn Tigers (12-2); Sept. 27, UTEP Miners (2-10).
Why: Bill Snyder’s young crew will have a tune-up game and an extra week to prepare before playing SEC power Auburn in Week 3.
8. TCU Horned Frogs: Aug. 30, Samford Bulldogs (8-5)*; Sept. 13, Minnesota Golden Gophers (8-5); Sept. 27, SMU Mustangs (5-7).
Why: TCU was projected by many—including myself—to win the Big 12 title in 2013. Four wins doesn’t exactly get you any accolades, but the Frogs have an opportunity to get started on the right foot with this unimpressive non-conference schedule.
9. Kansas Jayhawks: Sept. 6, Southeast Missouri State RedHawks (3-9)*; Sept. 13, Duke Blue Devils (10-4); Sept. 20, Central Michigan Chippewas (6-6).
Why: Can Charlie Weis continue the slow progression of Kansas football? Beating Duke and Central Michigan would put them in a good position to do so.
10. Texas Tech Red Raiders: Aug. 30, Central Arkansas Bears (7-5); Sept. 6, UTEP Miners (2-10); Sept. 13, Arkansas Razorbacks (3-9).
Why: Texas Tech’s non-conference opponents come in with a combined 12-24 record from 2013, with its toughest matchup coming against the SEC’s second-worst team.
*denotes FCS team
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