Oklahoma State and Oklahoma are garnering most of the attention as preseason favorites in the Big 12 this year. Bedlam is far from the only big game in the league this season, though.
The best matchups in the Big 12 this year include some non-conference clashes that are pivotal for a league that is fighting for respectability on the national stage. There are more than enough quality games in league play to round out an exciting year on the gridiron.
1. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (Nov. 4)
Bedlam has decided the Big 12 champion for two straight years. This season, it might just be a preview of the new conference title game a month later.
Given the confidence in Stillwater about this year’s edition of the Cowboys, this offers Mike Gundy and his team a chance to seize the spotlight from their in-state rivals.
2. Oklahoma vs. Texas (Oct. 14 – Dallas)
The Red River game hasn’t had first-year head coaches on both sidelines in decades. The country will see a preview of the potential future of the Big 12 this season in the Cotton Bowl, as OU head coach Lincoln Riley looks to continue Bob Stoops’ mastery over Texas. Meanwhile, Tom Herman will try to remind the Longhorn faithful why he was such a hot coaching commodity before he got the Texas job.
Frankly, the storylines surrounding this game in 2017 make a strong case that it should be in the top spot.
3. Oklahoma State at Texas (Oct. 21)
The week after the Red River rivals meet, they’re each playing tough games that could go a long way towards determining the Big 12 crown. The Longhorns host OSU and the Cowboys’ high-octane offense. That’s not necessarily the kind of team you want to play just seven days after what is usually your most emotional game of the season.
4. Oklahoma at Kansas State (Oct. 21)
That same day, the Sooners will take the field in Manhattan for a showdown with the always dangerous Wildcats. OU has won its last two meetings with KSU comfortably, but Bill Snyder is running out of opportunities to pull off more sweet upsets of the Sooners. As a rookie head coach, Lincoln Riley will face a major test in keeping his team focused.
5. TCU at Arkansas (Sept. 9)
Sure, Big 12 teams face higher-profile opponents than Arkansas outside conference play this year. No game might be more important for the league’s rep, however.
The Horned Frogs can strike a blow for their conference mates by winning in Fayetteville, which would be a sign of the league’s depth. Maybe a better way to look at it: Not losing to an SEC also-ran is important.
6. Oklahoma at Ohio State (Sept. 9)
Let’s be real: This clash of college football titans lost some luster 12 months ago when the Buckeyes stomped OU in the Sooners’ own house. It’s hard to erase those memories when trying to envision OU returning the favor in Columbus.
A revenge-minded team playing with an edge might get payback, but it’s a tall order.
7. Oklahoma State at West Virginia (Oct. 28)
This is a major trap game for the Cowboys, who thumped the Mountaineers a year ago at Boone Pickens Stadium. OSU’s long road trip to Morgantown comes a week after the Pokes travel to Austin. The WVU faithful will probably be as rowdy as expected in what should be the Big 12’s marquee game that week.
8. Kansas State at Texas (Oct. 7)
Bill Snyder seems to take a placid delight in tormenting Texas. The Wildcats have owned UT for roughly a decade, an arrangement that Herman would surely like to end. Catching KSU in a possible look-ahead spot a week before the Longhorns’ annual rivalry game with the Sooners could hurt the cause, though.
9. TCU at Oklahoma (Nov. 11)
Much like Bill Snyder and Texas, Gary Patterson just seems to have a knack for putting the screws to OU. While TCU hasn’t pulled out a ton of wins over the Sooners, their games always seem to come down to the final possession. This year, OU will be in a potential letdown spot a week after Bedlam.
10. Texas at USC (Sept. 16)
This hyped non-conference matchup falls into a similar bucket as Oklahoma-Ohio State. Yes, the programs are prestigious. It still looks like a mismatch, with the Trojans going off as significant favorites.
On the other hand, Tom Herman has shown a knack for having his teams primed to play in signature games. There wouldn’t be a much better way to start the “Texas is back” talk than with a win at the Coliseum.
— 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.