Texas' clash with an SEC power highlights the Big 12’s most intriguing non-conference matchups
Sept. 14 is shaping up as a huge day for the Big 12 conference in 2019.
Six of the league’s members are slated to play opponents from other Power 5 conferences that day. Another, Kansas, is playing Boston College the night before. In other words, the conference as a whole can make a strong statement about its depth and strength in week three.
The Sept. 14 games aren’t the only major non-conference matchups throughout the Big 12 this fall. Here are the 10 most intriguing on the 2019 slate.
10. Oklahoma State at Oregon State, Aug. 30
The Cowboys open the season for Big 12 teams with a Friday night visit to Corvallis. The Beavers aren’t striking fear into the hearts of many opponents in recent years, but Oklahoma State will be breaking in a new starting quarterback. It also marks the debut of new offensive coordinator Sean Gleeson.
9. Texas Tech at Arizona, Sept. 14
The Red Raiders’ trip to Tucson will probably be the nightcap of the Big 12’s Sept. 14 slate. First-year head coach Matt Wells and his staff will have an opportunity to tune up for the Wildcats with a couple lightweights, FCS member Montana State and UTEP, in the first two weeks of the season. Arizona and dangerous QB Khalil Tate will represent a big step up in competition for Tech.
8. Oklahoma vs. Houston, Aug. 31
The last time these two teams squared off at the start of the 2016 season, the Cougars scored one of the bigger wins in the history of the program. Since then, UH has changed head coaches twice. New head honcho Dana Holgorsen has a long history versus the Sooners, none of which has been very successful.
7. West Virginia vs. NC State, Sept. 14
A hurricane scuttled last year’s scheduled meeting between these two in Raleigh. Instead, the series is a one-shot deal with the two teams playing this year in Morgantown.
First-year head coach Neal Brown could make a big impression with the Mountaineers thanks to a challenging September schedule. It could also turn into a rough start.
6. Kansas State at Mississippi State, Sept. 14
The Bulldogs traveled to Manhattan last season and whipped the Wildcats on their own turf. New KSU head coach Chris Klieman will try to avoid a similar fate this year in Starkville. In light of the beating Kansas State took in 2018, Klieman and his staff will need to have their squad ready to stand up to MSU’s physicality.
5. West Virginia at Missouri, Sept. 7
A week before NC State comes to Morgantown, the Mountaineers travel to Columbia for a Big 12-SEC showdown with Mizzou. Both teams are replacing star QBs, which means this one could get messy.
4. TCU at Purdue, Sept. 14
Not long ago, this game would have been classified as an early-season mismatch. Jeff Brohm apparently has the Boilermakers on an upswing, though, and spurning his alma mater Louisville in the offseason has only heightened the enthusiasm around the Purdue program.
TCU stumbled to the finish line last year, so a win here would offer a sign that the Horned Frogs were just suffering through a short blip.
3. Iowa State vs. Iowa, Sept. 14
This in-state rivalry often flies under the radar, but the two programs really don’t like each other. Iowa State’s ascent under Matt Campbell has brought a little more heat to the annual matchup. The Cyclones will have a chance to end a four-game losing streak versus the Hawkeyes when the two teams square off in week three.
2. Oklahoma at UCLA, Sept. 14
This matchup probably looks more glamorous on paper than reality would suggest. OU worked the Bruins last season when they played in Norman, and Chip Kelly’s Westwood rebuild appears to be proceeding at a deliberate pace. The Sooners will enter this game as heavy favorites.
1. Texas vs. LSU, Sept. 7
The Longhorns aren’t scared to swing for the fences in non-conference scheduling. After wrapping up a two-game series with the USC Trojans, they’re moving on to a home-and-home series with the Bayou Bengals.
UT capped off last season with a win over Georgia in the Sugar Bowl. Head coach Tom Herman would relish a chance to knock off another SEC power in 2019.
— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of BlatantHomerism.com and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.