Big 12 Football Notes and Picks: Week One
The Big 12 has a measured start in week one, but a pair of games against Power Five opponents will allow an early tone to be set for the league, which needs to get wins over opponents like Maryland and Virginia Tech in order to quiet some of the hysterical shouting that has consigned the league to the scrap heap. Four national TV games give some good exposure on a weekend that typically features the third tier broadcast game for most conference schools.
No teams are on the road in week one, as nine squads lift the lid at home while West Virginia plays a neutral site game in the nation’s capital.
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The Big 12 is the only league in the nation with at least 50% of its teams ranked in the AP and coaches polls.
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Baylor added Duke to its non-conference schedule, which would be akin to most other Big 12 schools adding Florida State, Alabama and Ohio State in the same year.
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The Big 12 has ten out of conference games scheduled against Power Five foes, and more than half of them are being played away from home.The league probably needs to win at least six, and maybe seven, to help dispel some of the invective heaped upon it for being weak.
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Despite its disappointing won-loss record, Texas Tech continued to pack in fans. The Red Raiders trailed only Texas and Oklahoma in average home attendance in 2016, as 58,250 fans headed through the turnstiles each game.
Tulsa at Oklahoma State Thu Aug 31 7:30 PM* FS1
Oklahoma State opens the season with Tulsa , and it’s a game that sounds more intriguing than it is. The Golden Hurricane simply don’t have the talent to match the Cowboys anywhere, and OSU isn’t likely to be caught napping after last year’s controversial upset loss to Western Michigan cost it dearly. The Cowboys come out focused and blow Tulsa away early.
Maryland at Texas Sat Sep 2 12:00 PM FS1
Last year Texas got off to an excellent start with a win over Notre Dame, but that proved to be fool’s gold. The Irish were bad (although still overhyped by national syncophants as usual), and the Horns, while competitive, finished 5-7 which led to the firing of head coach Charlie Strong. That might not have been the best move, but Tom Herman was the hot coach on the landscape, and UT swooped in. Now he’ll need to beat Maryland to give the fanbase something to hang their ten-gallon hats on. Even if he does – and that will happen – it can’t be viewed as a sign that all is right in Austin just yet.
UTEP at Oklahoma Sat Sep 2 3:30 PM FOX
Oklahoma welcomes a school from across the southern border, but it’s UTEP, not Texas, that provides the opposition. The Miners have the ability to score some points, but they won’t make it close, and it probably won’t even be a game by halftime as the Sooners overwhelm their outmatched foes from Conference USA.
Eastern Washington at Texas Tech Sat Sep 2 4:00 PM FSN
Texas Tech hosts Eastern Washington in a red wave battle, and this one should have the Red Raider fans worried. The Eagles are a very capable FCS team, and if Tech hasn’t fixed its defensive woes, it could easily start the season 0-1. In fact, that’s the pick here. The turnaround of the Red Raider defense will take more than one offseason.
Southeast Missouri St at Kansas Sat Sep 2 7:00 PM Jayhawk TV
Kansas is in a similar boat to Iowa State in terms of performance and season outlook – it’s just leakier and has fewer means of propulsion. Southeast Missouri State shouldn’t have enough to sink the Jayhawks, even though KU is still looking for someone to seize the starting quarterback position.
Central Arkansas at Kansas State Sat Sep 2 7:00 PM K-State TV
Kansas State plays host to Central Arkansas and gets to show what a full, healthy team can do. Look for the Wildcats to wear down the Bears, but to also show a bit of burst with some underrated skill position players making their mark.
Liberty at Baylor Sat Sep 2 7:00 PM FS2
Baylor gets a home game against Liberty, a solid FCS foe. In past years, this probably would still have been a laugher for BU, but given the rebuild underway, it’s a window into the current state of the Bear program. You can’t put too much on one game, but this will at least serve as a snapshot for where Baylor is under new coach Matt Rhule, and how far it has to go. Baylor still gets the win, and perhaps a bit easier than many suspect.
Northern Iowa at Iowa State Sat Sep 2 8:00 PM Cyclones.tv
Iowa State has an in-state game against Northern Iowa to warm up for the CyHawk Classic against Iowa. This is a game ISU must win if it wants to begin competing for a mid-tier finish and a bowl bid. It was unable to accomplish that last year, but Matt Campbell has this program trending in the right direction, and it takes that first step in the opener.
Jackson State at TCU Sat Sep 2 8:00 PM FSN
TCU will get to tune up on Jackson State, and no mater how QB Kenny Hill plays, the Horned Frogs will roll. By the second half, many of TCU’s fans will have adjourned to The Fort Worth Stockyards for some early celebrating.
Virginia Tech vs West Virginia Sun Sep 3 7:30 PM ABC
West Virginia plays the feature game of the weekend, meeting Virginia Tech in a neutral site affair in Washington, D.C on Sunday night. Big 12 fans who aren’t familiar with the animosity this game engenders between fan bases need only conjure images of Kansas – Kansas State or Oklahoma – Oklahoma State. For the players, there’s no history, as the last meeting between the two schools on the gridiron came in 2005, but an anticipated sellout crowd won’t take long to amp things up – especially under nighttime skies and in front of a national TV audience. WVU gets a very narrow and hard-fought win to get the league off to a good start in its non-conference marquee games.
* All Times Eastern