For all the flak the conference takes for its football scheduling and style of play, it’s hard to argue that some of the most entertaining football in the country doesn’t take place in the Big 12 on a weekly basis. This coming season there are several marquee matchups between Big 12 teams and non-conference opponents, as well as numerous intra-conference games which will have the nation watching with baited breath. The following are the biggest games of each week of the upcoming Big 12 season.
Biggest Games for Each Week of the Upcoming Big 12 Season
Week 1: Oklahoma vs. Houston
The opening week of the college football season is slated to be one of the most exciting in recent memory, with a handful of duels between major players on the national scene. The biggest one involving a Big 12 program will take place at NRG Stadium in Houston, where the Oklahoma Sooners will face off with Tom Herman’s Houston Cougars. OU enters the season looking for a second consecutive berth in the College Football Playoff come New Year’s Eve, while Houston has its sights set on another New Year’s Six bowl berth out of the American Athletic Conference.
Other big games, Week 1 – Kansas State at Stanford, Texas vs. Notre Dame, West Virginia vs. Missouri
Week 2: TCU vs. Arkansas
After an opening week game versus FCS South Dakota State, TCU begins their FBS slate with a game against the Arkansas Razorbacks. The Horned Frogs, another Big 12 team with hopes of reaching the College Football Playoff this season, is projected to start former Texas A&M Aggie Kenny Hill at quarterback this coming season. The Razorbacks, ever the dark horse in the SEC West, will be looking for some revenge against the new Horned Frogs passer, who led Texas A&M to a win over Arkansas in 2014.
Other big games, Week 2 – Iowa State at Iowa, Texas Tech at Arizona State
Week 3: Oklahoma vs. Ohio State
Oklahoma’s non-conference gauntlet (segmented by a game against Louisiana-Monroe) concludes at home with a huge matchup versus Ohio State. The Buckeyes are another team with national championship dreams, which adds even more excitement to this contest. The quarterback battle between Baker Mayfield of OU and J.T. Barrett of OSU projects to be one of the most exciting of the entire college football season.
Other big games, Week 3 – Iowa State at TCU, Texas at Cal, Oklahoma State vs. Pitt
Week 4: Baylor vs. Oklahoma State
Week 4 features just six Big 12 teams in action, with the Oklahoma State/Baylor tilt being the only conference matchup of the week. This is the first real test for Baylor in the post-Art Briles era, as Seth Russell tries to lead the Baylor offense to prominence once again. On the Cowboys’ side, quarterback Mason Rudolph is now the undisputed alpha dog of the offense. As such he will be tasked with leading Mike Gundy’s squad to another 10-win season.
Other big games, Week 4 – West Virginia vs. BYU
Week 5: TCU vs. Oklahoma
It’s hard to argue that any team has a harder schedule in the first half of the season than Oklahoma. It’s an argument only exacerbated by the fact that the Sooners will face off with TCU in Fort Worth in their fourth game of the 2016 season. “Basketball on grass” will likely be in full effect in this game. The exciting (and potentially anxiety-inducing) Kenny Hill and the explosive KaVontae Turpin should supply plenty of fireworks for the Horned Frogs offense, while the trio of Baker Mayfield, Semaje Perine and Dede Westbrook will do the same for the Sooners.
Other big games, Week 5 – Oklahoma State vs. Texas, West Virginia vs. Kansas State
Week 6: Oklahoma vs. Texas
Obviously Oklahoma is the team to watch in the Big 12 this season. This is the case in the first half at least, as they are a part of the biggest game of the week four times in the first six weeks of the season. Granted, this week in the Big 12 is far from the strongest of the year, but the Red River Showdown is always a major event. Texas will be looking to repeat their performance from this contest last season, when they spoiled Oklahoma’s undefeated season.
Other big games, Week 6 – Kansas State vs. Texas Tech, Kansas vs. TCU
Week 7: Texas Tech vs. West Virginia
If you like offense, this will likely be one of the most fun games of the year for you. Kliff Kingsbury and the Red Raiders’ high-powered spread offense is always exciting, if not necessarily successful. And NFL prospect Patrick Mahomes is primed for a big year at quarterback. West Virginia is looking for a bounce-back 2016, and this may be the game that makes or breaks the season for Dana Holgorsen’s Mountaineers.
Other big games, Week 7 – Oklahoma vs. Kansas State, Texas vs. Iowa State
Week 8: Texas Tech vs. Oklahoma
Texas Tech may not be a contender for the College Football Playoff, but they have a chance to knock off a team that is. Oklahoma’s secondary has more question marks this season than last especially considering the recent arrest of Jordan Thomas. With that in mind, Texas Tech quarterback Patrick Mahomes has a chance to get a signature win against a powerhouse program. This could be a challenging contest for OU on the road.
Other big games, Week 8 – West Virginia vs. TCU, Kansas State vs. Texas
Week 9: TCU vs. Texas Tech
In a rematch of a game that ended in exciting fashion last year, this should be another high-scoring contest between two of the most exciting offenses in the Big 12. By this point in the season, it will be interesting to see the status of Kenny Hill and whether or not he remains the starting quarterback of the Horned Frogs.
Other big games, Week 9 – Texas vs. Baylor, Oklahoma State vs. West Virginia
Week 10: Baylor vs. TCU
Always a hotly-contested rivalry game, the dreams both of these teams have of winning a Big 12 title could make this another Revivalry to remember. Last season’s matchup between these two bitter rivals was played in a torrential downpour, with TCU eventually pulling out the win late. The winner of 2016’s game will also become the all-time leader in the series, as the combined head-to-head record of the Bears and the Horned Frogs currently stands at 52-52-7.
Other big games, Week 10 – Kansas State vs. Oklahoma State, Texas Tech vs. Texas
Week 11: Oklahoma vs. Baylor
It’s a challenging back-to-back late in the 2016 season for Baylor, as the Bears will travel to Norman to take on the Sooners just one week after The Revivalry. Depending on how Baylor adjusts to life after Art Briles, both of these teams could be in contention for not just the Big 12 Championship, but also the College Football Playoff when this game rolls around. We also should know if Baker Mayfield is still a Heisman Trophy candidate by this point in the schedule.
Other big games, Week 11 – Oklahoma State vs. Texas Tech, Kansas vs. Iowa State
Week 12: TCU vs. Oklahoma State
Oklahoma State entered Week 12 of the 2015 season with an undefeated record before falling to Baylor at home for their first blemish of the season. Whether or not they will be in such a favorable position at this point again is clearly yet to be seen. But if they are, this could be another matchup with huge Big 12 and national implications.
Other big games, Week 12 – West Virginia vs. Oklahoma, Baylor vs. Kansas State
Week 13: Texas Tech vs. Baylor
In a late-season game between two of the three best quarterbacks in the Big 12 (Patrick Mahomes and Seth Russell), bowl placement (and potentially job security) could be on the line in this contest. As is usually the case with matchups between the conference’s best teams, this one will likely be a high-scoring affair.
Other big games, Week 13 – Kansas State vs. Kansas, Texas vs. TCU
Week 14: Oklahoma vs. Oklahoma State
One of the biggest rivalries in the Big 12, Bedlam has had major postseason implications in recent years. It very well could continue in 2016. The road team has won the last three matchups in this rivalry, a trend which favors Oklahoma State this year. But, as anyone who has watched this rivalry over the past couple of seasons knows, nothing is guaranteed when it comes to Bedlam.
Other big games, Week 14 – West Virginia vs. Baylor, TCU vs. Kansas State