Preseason practices have started all across Big 12 country. While a select few schools are angling for a conference championship, or even more, others would take a bowl bid and a signature win or two.
Luckily for the upstarts, the wide-open style of play across the league opens the door for plenty of shootouts – and those track meets always carry upset potential.
Here are a handful of games from across the Big 12 that could get weird this season.
Oklahoma State over Oklahoma, Nov. 4
It doesn’t feel right calling this an upset – an OSU win likely wouldn’t shock many observers who have been paying attention lately. As of now, however, the Sooners would be small favorites over their Bedlam rivals. The Cowboys will relish the chance to notch a signature win in what should be a national showcase game in the Big 12.
Iowa State over TCU, Oct. 28
Matt Campbell’s team will surprise some people this season. Despite limping to a 3-9 record in 2016, the Cyclones played extremely hard for Campbell in his debut season. This is the kind of spot where the Horned Frogs could get caught napping.
Kansas over Baylor, Nov. 4
Given how the last few years have gone for the Jayhawks, them beating anyone constitutes an upset. Baylor looks like an ideal candidate. The Bears could find themselves reeling this year after gutting their program and rebooting with new head coach Matt Rhule. They travel to Lawrence a week after hosting in-state rival Texas. The letdown spot offers KU a chance to steal win.
West Virginia over Oklahoma State, Oct. 28
OSU has back-to-back road games in October at Texas and at WVU. Mike Gundy should have a chat with the league office about that. Even worse for the Cowboys, the Mountaineers will be out for blood after getting whipped in Stillwater a year ago. Will Grier and the rest of the WVU offense will test OSU’s middling secondary all game.
Maryland over Texas, Sept. 2
With the Longhorns still learning the ropes under new coach Tom Herman, catching another Power 5 conference team in the season opener is a rough break. The talent edge here falls squarely in favor of UT, but the Terrapins have already entered year two of their rebuild under defensive-minded coach DJ Durkin. It bears mentioning that Durkin has experience scheming against Ohio State and the Urban Meyer offense, although he also has little success against it to speak of.
Texas Tech over Oklahoma State, Sept. 30
The Red Raiders may not win enough games this year to save Kliff Kingsbury’s job. Their high-octane offense makes them dangerous nonetheless. The Cowboys have more than enough firepower to lay waste to Tech. But with three road games in the first five weeks of the season, will OSU have enough left in the tank when the team visits Lubbock in late September?
Kansas over Texas Tech, Oct. 7
Wouldn’t it be just like Tech to follow up an upset of OSU by losing to the lowly Jayhawks? The Red Raiders’ putrid defense raises the possibility of a defeat at the hands of a team as bad as KU. Notably, Kansas has a bye the prior week, which gives David Beaty and his staff an extra week to prepare for one of the few winnable games on their schedule.
Kansas State over Oklahoma, Oct. 21
Bad news for the Sooners: Bill Snyder and his Wildcats lie in wait in Manhattan a week after OU’s annual rivalry game against Texas. Oklahoma has handled KSU easily the last two seasons, but Snyder has demonstrated a knack for knocking off the Sooners when you least expect it. OU’s historical dominance of the Wildcats on their home field can’t sit well with K-State, either.
— 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.