The balance of power in the Big 12 firmly shifted to Baylor and TCU in 2014, and they return as the favorites to take home the conference title this time around.
Waiting in the wings are the two Oklahoma squads, who could throw a wrench or two in the Big 12 champ’s New Year’s Eve plans. In addition to Bedlam and the Red River Shootout, OU’s non-conference game at Tennessee presents a major measuring stick for the conference. The same goes for Texas’ contests with Notre Dame and California.
Those are just a few of the top 15 must-see games in the Big 12 in 2015.
1. Baylor at TCU (Nov. 27)
College football fans have to wait until Black Friday to see the Bears and Horned Frogs tangle in the sequel to one of the best games of the 2014 season. The winner may end up the Big 12’s one true champion.
2. Oklahoma at Baylor (Nov. 14)
If any other Big 12 team is going to unseat Baylor and TCU, it might be Oklahoma. The Sooners will head down to Waco in the second weekend of November carrying the scars of two straight blowout defeats at the hands of the Bears.
3. TCU at Oklahoma (Nov. 21)
Another revenge game for the Sooners a week after their meeting with Baylor. This time, they will host TCU.
4. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State (Nov. 28)
The Sooners were plummeting toward rock bottom in the wake of OSU’s miraculous Bedlam win last year. Meanwhile, the Cowboys salvaged their season by qualifying for a bowl game and knocking off their in-state rivals. In the past, this one has determined the Big 12 crown on multiple occasions.
5. Oklahoma at Tennessee (Sept. 12)
You’re measured these days in college football by the company you keep, which means that how the league’s members play outside the conference matters to everyone. The Sooners can strike a blow for the Big 12 with a win in Knoxville against a UT team that is considered a legitimate contender in the SEC East.
6. TCU at Oklahoma State (Nov. 7)
TCU better watch itself. Ask Baylor how games in Stillwater go for Big 12 favorites.
7. California at Texas (Sept. 19)
If the Sooners can win one for the entire conference against the Volunteers, Texas can do the Big 12 a favor and not lose to what is expected to be a feisty Cal team. The Longhorns could have problems keeping up with the Golden Bears’ explosive offense.
8. Baylor at Oklahoma State (Nov. 21)
See No. 6.
9. Oklahoma vs. Texas (Oct. 10)
The Red River Shootout is the ninth on this list? Indeed. Times have changed in one of college football’s fiercest rivalries.
10. Baylor at Kansas State (Nov. 5)
A Thursday night game in Manhattan, Kan., will test Baylor’s mettle. The Wildcats are dangerous when Bill Snyder has an extra week to prepare his team, as will be the case here.
11. TCU at Texas Tech (Sept. 26)
The Red Raiders have the kind of dynamic playmakers on offense to knock off at least one of the Big 12’s best teams. It could be TCU, as Gary Patterson will still be working in newcomers across his secondary when the Horned Frogs visit Waco.
12. Texas at Notre Dame (Sept. 5)
A clash between two of college football’s marquee programs in one of the sport’s most iconic stadiums makes for a great way to start the season. The Longhorns will have their hands full with the Fighting Irish, who harbor legitimate College Football Playoff hopes.
13. Maryland at West Virginia (Sept. 26)
Much like Cal-Texas, a loss by WVU to a decidedly mediocre Big Ten foe wouldn’t help the conference’s rep.
14. South Dakota State at Kansas (Sept. 5)
Don’t laugh — this could be the Jayhawks’ only shot at a win.
15. Texas Tech at Arkansas (Sept. 19)
Things turned ugly quickly when the Razorbacks came to Lubbock a year ago. Maybe Tech returns the favor this season, although Kliff Kingsbury might be satisfied if his squad just stays competitive.
— 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.