2012 Big 12 Schedule Analysis

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<p> Athlon breaks down the Big 12 schedule and highlights some of the games to watch, potential upsets and tidbits to keep in mind for 2012.</p>

By Steven Lassan (@AthlonSteven on Twitter)

Finally. After a long wait and rumors of its release for the last few weeks, the Big 12 schedule for 2012 has been distributed. The conference has experienced a handful of changes over the last two years, with Nebraska, Texas A&M, Missouri and Colorado departing, and TCU and West Virginia joining. After an expensive settlement with the Big East, the Mountaineers were cleared to join in time for the 2012 season and should be one of the frontrunners to claim the conference title. After winning at least 11 games over the last four seasons, the Horned Frogs are ready for the increased challenge and the week-to-week grind of playing in a BCS conference.

Related: Athlon's Early College Football Top 25 for 2012
Related: Athlon's 2012 Early Big 12 Predictions

Baylor

Sept. 1 SMU
Sept. 15 Sam Houston State
Sept. 22 at UL Monroe
Sept. 29 at West Virginia
Oct. 13 TCU
Oct. 20 at Texas
Oct. 27 at Iowa State
Nov. 3 Kansas
Nov. 10 at Oklahoma
Nov. 17 Kansas State
Nov. 24 Texas Tech (Arlington)
Dec. 1 Oklahoma State

* With a new quarterback taking over, it’s good news for Baylor the first conference game is on Sept. 29. Barring an upset, the Bears should start 3-0 and build some momentum with the new pieces on offense for Big 12 play.

* The Baylor-TCU matchup was one of college football’s best games of 2011. With Robert Griffin no longer taking snaps in Waco, a 50-48 shootout victory is probably unrealistic. However, this is a big test for both teams midway through the 2012 season. And of course, there’s plenty of bad blood between these two teams. With the Horned Frogs in the Big 12, this should become a good rivalry.

* The Bears will play two out of their last three games at home and the other contest is a neutral site affair in Arlington against Texas Tech. Considering Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma State are all winnable games, it’s a favorable draw for Baylor’s hopes of reaching its third consecutive bowl game.   

Iowa State

Sept. 1 Tulsa
Sept. 8 at Iowa
Sept. 15 Western Illinois
Sept. 29 Texas Tech
Oct. 6 at TCU
Oct. 13 Kansas State
Oct. 20 at Oklahoma State
Oct. 27 Baylor
Nov. 3 Oklahoma
Nov. 10 at Texas
Nov 17 at Kansas
Nov. 24 West Virginia

* If the Cyclones are going to make their third bowl appearance under coach Paul Rhoads, they will need to get a good chunk of their wins in the first half. Iowa State should get at least two victories in the non-conference portion, with winnable games against Texas Tech and Kansas State in Ames before the midpoint of 2012.

* The back half of the schedule isn’t too kind for Iowa State. The Cyclones play arguably the top three teams in the Big 12 for 2012 – Oklahoma, Texas and West Virginia – in November. Ouch.

* Revenge game. After knocking out Oklahoma State from the ranks of the unbeaten in 2011, it’s a safe bet the Cowboys will be hungry for revenge on Oct. 20 in Stillwater.

* New members. The Cyclones are 0-3 in three previous matchups against TCU and have never played West Virginia.

Kansas

Sept. 1 South Dakota State
Sept. 8 Rice
Sept. 15 TCU
Sept. 22 at Northern Illinois
Oct. 6 at Kansas State
Oct. 13 Oklahoma State
Oct. 20 at Oklahoma
Oct. 27 Texas
Nov. 3 at Baylor
Nov. 10 at Texas Tech
Nov. 17 Iowa State
Dec. 1 at West Virginia

* The Charlie Weis era should get off to a quick start, as the Jayhawks will be favored to start 2-0.

* Kansas’ first Big 12 game will be against new member TCU on Sept. 15. The Jayhawks have not played the Horned Frogs since 1997. After going winless in conference play last year, the Big 12 didn’t do Kansas in favors by scheduling a top 25 team for its conference opener.

* Bragging rights in Kansas. Weis will be looking to make some noise in his first year as the Jayhawks’ head coach and what better way to do that than to beat Kansas State on Oct. 6. Kansas will be big underdogs, but it’s a key game for this team in 2012.

* The Jayhawks have one of the most difficult two-game stretches in the Big 12: at Oklahoma on Oct. 20 and Texas on Oct. 27.

* The Jayhawks close out 2012 with a road date against West Virginia. With no interest in scheduling Missouri for a non-conference series, it will be an odd sight to see Kansas playing the Mountaineers or any other team on the final regular season weekend.

Kansas State

Sept. 1 Missouri State
Sept. 8 Miami (Fla.)
Sept. 15 North Texas
Sept. 22 at Oklahoma
Oct. 6 Kansas
Oct. 13 at Iowa State
Oct. 20 at West Virginia
Oct. 27 Texas Tech
Nov. 3 Oklahoma State
Nov. 10 at TCU
Nov. 17 at Baylor
Dec. 1 Texas

* A rematch with Miami highlights the non-conference portion of the schedule. The Wildcats defeated the Hurricanes 28-24 last season, and with the Hurricanes rebuilding, Kansas State should have a good shot at winning this matchup.

* The Wildcats didn’t catch a break for the Big 12 opener, as they have to travel to Norman to take on Oklahoma.

* The Wildcats and Jayhawks renew their annual rivalry on Oct. 6, with Kansas hoping to snap a three-game losing streak in this series.

* Kansas State and West Virginia have met only two times – 1930 and 1931.

* A difficult November will likely make-or-break the Wildcats’ Big 12 title hopes. Kansas State hosts Oklahoma State, then hits the road for games against TCU and Baylor, before closing the regular season with a home game against Texas. All four games are winnable, but none should be considered guarantee wins.

Oklahoma

Sept. 1 at UTEP
Sept. 8 Florida A&M
Sept. 22 Kansas State
Oct. 6 at Texas Tech
Oct. 13 Texas (Dallas)
Oct. 20 Kansas
Oct. 27 Notre Dame
Nov. 3 at Iowa State
Nov. 10 Baylor
Nov. 17 at West Virginia
Nov. 24 Oklahoma State
Dec. 1 at TCU

* Revenge? After losing to Texas Tech last season, expect the Sooners to be motivated for the rematch on Oct. 6 in Lubbock.

* Trap game? After playing Notre Dame on Oct. 27, Oklahoma has to travel to Ames to take on Iowa State on Nov. 3. We’ve already seen one Oklahoma team have trouble against the Cyclones in November.

* Backloaded schedule. If the Sooners are going to win the Big 12, they will have their work cut out in the last stretch of the season. Oklahoma faces West Virginia, Oklahoma State and TCU in its final three games – with two of those on the road.

* Red River Rivalry. Texas is getting better, but are the Longhorns ready to challenge the Sooners (the likely preseason favorites in the Big 12) on Oct. 13?

Oklahoma State

Sept. 1 Savannah State
Sept. 8 at Arizona
Sept. 15 UL Lafayette
Sept. 29 Texas
Oct. 13 at Kansas
Oct. 20 Iowa State
Oct. 27 TCU
Nov. 3 at Kansas State
Nov. 10 West Virginia
Nov. 17 Texas Tech
Nov. 24 at Oklahoma
Dec. 1 at Baylor

* The Cowboys couldn’t have picked a better opening opponent. Savannah State was 1-10 last year and gave up 40.2 points a game last year. Yikes. Look for Oklahoma State’s new quarterback to have a field day against this defense.

* The second game of the year is an intriguing non-conference matchup against Arizona. The Wildcats have to adjust to new coach Rich Rodriguez, but won’t be an easy out in Tucson.

* The Cowboys’ first Big 12 matchup is against Texas on Sept. 29. Oklahoma State has won back-to-back games against the Longhorns after winning only twice in the previous 24 matchups.

* Upset potential? Don’t sleep on Louisiana-Lafayette on Sept. 15. The Ragin’ Cajuns had a respectable showing in a loss against the Cowboys in 2011 and return much of their core for 2012.

* Former Oklahoma State offensive coordinator (now West Virginia head coach) Dana Holgorsen makes his return to Stillwater on Nov. 10.

* Three of Oklahoma State’s final four games are at home. However, the Cowboys have to hit the road for their annual matchup against Oklahoma. After last year’s thumping in Stillwater, you can bet the Sooners will be looking forward to that matchup on Nov. 24.

TCU

Sept. 8 Grambling State
Sept. 15 at Kansas
Sept. 22 Virginia
Sept. 29 at SMU
Oct. 6 Iowa State
Oct. 13 at Baylor
Oct. 20 Texas Tech
Oct. 27 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 3 at West Virginia
Nov. 10 Kansas State
Nov. 24 at Texas
Dec. 1 Oklahoma

* The schedule sets up favorably for a quick start, as the Horned Frogs should sweep their non-conference games and will likely be favored against Kansas, Iowa State, Baylor and Texas Tech in the Big 12 portion.

* Revenge? After losing to SMU in Fort Worth last season, the Horned Frogs will no doubt circle the Sept. 29 matchup against the Mustangs.

* While TCU could get off to a quick start, the last five games are going to test this team. The Horned Frogs have a difficult closing stretch, starting with a date at Oklahoma State on Oct. 27 and closing on Dec. 1 at home against Oklahoma. If the finale against the Sooners wasn’t tough enough, TCU has to play at Texas the week before.

* The new-member bowl. TCU and West Virginia have played only once (1984 Bluebonnet Bowl), but will play every year – provided there is no more expansion – in the Big 12.

* One interesting tidbit to consider about TCU in 2012. Its defenses have ranked near the top of college football under coach Gary Patterson. But will that continue with an offensive-minded Big 12?

Texas

Sept. 1 Wyoming
Sept. 8 New Mexico
Sept. 15 at Ole Miss
Sept. 29 at Oklahoma State
Oct. 6 West Virginia
Oct. 13 Oklahoma (Dallas)
Oct. 20 Baylor
Oct. 27 at Kansas
Nov. 3 at Texas Tech
Nov. 10 Iowa State
Nov. 24 TCU
Dec. 1 at Kansas State

* With an offense that needs time to improve, the first three games are a good wakeup call for Big 12 play. The Longhorns will be heavily favored to start 3-0 and figure to roll up some big offensive numbers along the way.

* The Longhorns will play their first Big 12 game on Sept. 29 against Oklahoma State. The Cowboys have won the last two meetings in this series.

* The Nov. 24 date against TCU is rumored to be moving to Thanksgiving for 2012. It’s not Texas A&M-Texas, but it’s a solid (and likely) top 25 matchup next season.

* Is this the year the Longhorns snap a four-game losing streak to Kansas State? Texas has to travel to Manhattan for the regular season finale on Dec. 1, and it’s a game that could have significant implications in the Big 12 bowl pecking order.

* West Virginia and Texas have played only once (1956), with the Mountaineers winning 7-6.

Texas Tech

Sept. 1 Northwestern State
Sept. 8 at Texas State
Sept. 15 New Mexico
Sept. 29 at Iowa State
Oct. 6 Oklahoma
Oct. 13 West Virginia
Oct. 20 at TCU
Oct. 27 at Kansas State
Nov. 3 Texas
Nov. 10 Kansas
Nov. 17 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 24 Baylor (Arlington)

* After a disappointing 2011 campaign, the Red Raiders should have an opportunity to build some early momentum. Texas Tech should start 3-0 and has a good chance to beat Iowa State and move to 4-0 before taking on Oklahoma on Oct. 6.

* The middle of the schedule is going to define Texas Tech’s 2012 season. The Red Raiders have a brutal stretch, starting with Oklahoma on Oct. 6 and closing with Texas on Nov. 3. It wouldn’t be a surprise to see Texas Tech 4-5 going into the final three games of the season.

* Bowl eligibility could be on the line when the Red Raiders play Baylor in Arlington on Nov. 24.

* The Red Raiders have not played TCU since 2006, a game they lost 12-3 in Fort Worth.

* Texas Tech’s only meeting with West Virginia occurred in 1938. The Red Raiders knocked off the Mountaineers 7-6 in that game.

West Virginia

Sept. 1 Marshall
Sept. 15 James Madison (Landover)
Sept. 22 Maryland
Sept. 29 Baylor
Oct. 6 at Texas
Oct. 13 at Texas Tech
Oct. 20 Kansas State
Nov. 3 TCU
Nov. 10 at Oklahoma State
Nov. 17 Oklahoma
Nov. 24 at Iowa State
Dec. 1 Kansas

* The Mountaineers open their first season in the Big 12 with a date against Baylor – a team they have never played before. A favorable non-conference slate should have West Virginia at 3-0 before they play in the Bears on Sept. 29.

* After playing Baylor, West Virginia has to travel for back-to-back games against Texas and Texas Tech.

* Mark it down: Nov. 3 is the meeting of the Big 12’s newest members, as TCU visits Morgantown.

* Nov. 10 – The Dana Holgorsen Bowl. West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen served as Oklahoma State’s offensive coordinator in 2010.

* Although the Mountaineers draw a difficult start to the final stretch of the season – TCU, at Oklahoma State and Oklahoma – they close with games against Iowa State and Kansas.

* Seeing a West Virginia schedule with no Pittsburgh is certainly strange, but closing the year with a game at Kansas is even more bizarre. However, that’s the price of realignment, as rivalries across college football are disappearing. 

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