The Ultimate Schedule: Big 12 South

August 16th, 2009

Big 12 Schedule “Rules”:

-         Four non-conference games

-         Eight conference games (three against the South Division)

-         Big 12 Championship Game


Week 1: Georgia @ Oklahoma State (September 5th)


One of the best intersectional games of the season takes place on the first Saturday with the Bulldogs visiting the Cowboys. Mike Gundy’s team is expected by many to take the place of last season’s Texas Tech squad that eventually tied with Oklahoma and Texas for the division crown. QB Zac Robinson and WR Dez Bryant are two of the more explosive options for the Pokes, but they’ve got talent all over the field on offense. The questions reside on the other side of the football, with the hope being that new defensive coordinator Bill Young can give the unit some teeth.


Coach Young was the defensive coordinator at Kansas in 2007 when the Jayhawks made their way to the FedEx Orange Bowl, and he’ll have to find ways to rattle Georgia QB Joe Cox. Georgia’s got some serious offensive threats as well, beginning with WR A.J. Green and a stable of running backs looking to make a name for themselves after sitting behind Knowshon Moreno last year. A shootout favors the Cowboys, but they could find it tough to hang too many points on Willie Martinez’s defense.


Other Games Considered: Oklahoma vs. BYU (9/5 in Arlington, TX), Baylor @ Wake Forest (9/5)


Week 2: Houston @ Oklahoma State (September 12th)


Back to Stillwater, this time for a game far more likely to turn into a shootout due to the firepower on both sidelines. Case Keenum may be one of the nation’s most underrated quarterbacks, and he threw for more than 5,000 yards and forty-four touchdowns in 2008. Running back Bryce Beal ran for more than 1,200 yards last season as a sophomore and the receiving corps got along pretty well without Donnie Avery in the first season under Kevin Sumlin. The issue for the Cougars, along with many of the other teams in Conference USA, is defense. The improvement of that unit could be the difference between simply reaching bowl eligibility and winning the league for Houston. In fact, this will be a very good test for both defenses.


Other Games Considered: Texas @ Wyoming (9/12), Rice @ Texas Tech (9/12)


Week 3: Texas Tech @ Texas (September 19th)


Last year’s game was an absolute classic in Lubbock, with a Graham Harrell pass to Michael Crabtree winning the game with one second remaining on the clock. The Longhorns didn’t fire out of the gates, something that the Red Raiders were able to take advantage of in jumping out to a 22-6 halftime lead. Tech was also able to take advantage of a young Texas secondary, throwing for 474 yards on the night.


Also, the Red Raiders had the ball for more than thirty-six minutes and fatigue can definitely become an issue when they control the clock in that fashion. Look for Will Muschamp to dial up the blitzes in order to make things difficult for Taylor Potts. Also, keep an eye on the health of RB Barron Batch, who injured a shoulder in fall camp. If he’s at or near 100% Batch will give the Tech offense another dimension.


Other Games Considered: Connecticut @ Baylor (9/19), Tulsa @ Oklahoma (9/19)


Week 4: Texas Tech @ Houston (September 26th)


A rather lean week on the schedule for South Division schools, so why not take in a game that should be an entertaining shootout? Regardless of who’s playing quarterback for Texas Tech they’re going to move the ball and put up points, and the same can be said for Houston QB Case Keenum. But the time this game rolls around we’ll have a good idea of what Coach Sumlin’s team can do against Big 12 competition since they visit Oklahoma State on September 12th. While this isn’t the same caliber of team that the Red Raiders had a season ago, there’s still the “name brand” factor that will stoke the fires among the Cougar faithful. If Tech isn’t ready to go from the opening kick Houston could pull off the upset.


Other Game Considered: UAB @ Texas A&M (September 26th)


Week 5: Oklahoma @ Miami (October 3rd)


The Sooners haven’t played the Hurricanes in south Florida for over twenty years, so expect the locals to have this date circled. The last meeting between the two schools was a blowout, with the Sooners blasting the rebuilding Hurricanes in Norman. The “Baby Canes” are now a bit more experienced and they know for a fact who their quarterback is (Jacory Harris), so Miami should put up a better fight. But at the end of the day will the Sooners have too much firepower offensively? Look for the Hurricanes to hang around for a little while due to the hype that will likely precede the matchup, but they’ll have a tough task dealing with Sam Bradford and company on offense along with a loaded front seven on defense.


Other Games Considered: Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (10/3 in Arlington, TX), New Mexico @ Texas Tech (10/3)


Week 6: Bye Week (October 10th)


Oklahoma hosting Baylor would be intriguing for the mere fact that quarterbacks Bradford and Robert Griffin III would be on display, but a Bears victory would go down as one of the biggest upsets in the recent history of college football. The same goes for Colorado visiting Texas, and if either Kansas State (at Texas Tech) or Texas A&M (hosting Oklahoma State) won those would be surprises as well. And with the donnybrook that’s on tap the following Saturday, we’ll need all the rest we can get.


Week 7: Oklahoma vs. Texas (October 17th in Dallas)


The winner of this game almost certainly has the inside track to the Big 12 title…unless they trip up later in the season. Texas won the game 45-35, storming back after falling behind early to the quick-starting Sooners. But they had the misfortune of losing to Texas Tech on November 1st, a defeat that eventually cost them when the Sooners had a higher BCS ranking at the end of the regular season. OU got to play for (and win) the Big 12 crown while Texas ended up playing in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl.


In regards to the series the Longhorns have won three of the last four meetings, but it’s the Sooners who enjoy the decisive edge in conference titles (six to Texas’ one), so while this is definitely a big game both teams need to remember that there are more games to be played. Motivation won’t be an issue for either team, treating the nation to the most anticipated game of the season. Besides two turnovers the Sooners also allowed Texas to rush for 161 yards while their backs combined for forty-eight yards. DeMarco Murray and company will need to give offensive coordinator Kevin Wilson more production if the Sooners are to beat Texas.


Other Games Considered: Missouri @ Oklahoma State (10/17), Texas Tech @ Nebraska (10/17)


Week 8: Oklahoma @ Kansas (10/24)


As fun as the Texas A&M/Texas Tech game would be in regards to some comments made in the offseason, the Sooners’ trip to Lawrence could be a Big 12 Championship Game preview. Oklahoma has won the last five meetings, most recently a 45-31 victory in Norman last year in which the Sooners racked up more than six hundred yards of offense. Kansas can put some points on the board, but how much has their defense improved? If they haven’t made significant strides Mark Mangino’s team could be in some serious trouble. Also, Bob Stoops has a very good track record against former assistants who now run programs within the league. Mangino has yet to beat him, and Mike Leach has just two wins over the Sooners since taking over at Texas Tech. Familiarity hasn’t bred contempt, but it has delivered some beatings to former understudies.


Other Games Considered: Texas A&M @ Texas Tech (10/24), Texas @ Missouri (10/24), and Oklahoma State @ Baylor (10/24)


Week 9: Texas @ Oklahoma State (October 31st)


Halloween gives Big 12 South fans another showdown, with the Cowboys looking to be the interloper that makes sure that Texas and Oklahoma don’t walk away with the division. Oklahoma State needs this win, not just to become a part of the division race but to validate the strides made under Mike Gundy. The Pokes haven’t beaten Texas since 1997, and they’ve lost to the Longhorns in a variety of ways. Simple blowouts, running out to a big lead only to fall victim to an avalanche of points, close losses…you name it they’ve done it in this series. In that time the Cowboys have beaten all the other teams within the division but have yet to challenge for the division title. The visit from Texas may be the first surefire sign of the impact of new defensive coordinator Bill Young, no matter what happens when Georgia visits the first weekend of the season. Is this the year that the streak ends? It just might be.


Other Games Considered: Kansas @ Texas Tech (10/31), Nebraska @ Baylor (10/31)


Week 10: Oklahoma @ Nebraska (November 7th)


Remember the years when this matchup used to decide who would represent the Big 8 in the Orange Bowl? Well, the combination of down cycles for both programs (OU under John Blake, Nebraska more recently) and the birth of the Big 12 took a little bit away from the magnitude of the game. This season could be a turning point in the series, with the Huskers the pick by the conference media to win the North Division and the Sooners expected to once again be a national title contender. The last time Nebraska won: 2001, when a trick play that resulted in a touchdown pass to eventual Heisman winner Eric Crouch put the Huskers ahead for good. Last year’s game wasn’t much of a contest with the Sooners winning 62-28; in front of the Memorial Stadium faithful expect a better performance from Nebraska.


Other Games Considered: Baylor @ Missouri (11/7)


Week 11: Texas Tech @ Oklahoma State (November 14th)


The last time these two met in Stillwater the nation was treated to a pair of postgame pressers that they soon wouldn’t forget. Mike Gundy went off on a columnist regarding an article on QB Bobby Reid (after winning the game) and Mike Leach went off on his own kids, making a statement to the effect that the players were hoping for someone to wipe off their tears and make them feel better. One thing to be guaranteed is offensive fireworks; what the two may say to the press after the game can’t be accurately called at this time. Oklahoma State comes into the 2009 with the established individual parts while the Red Raiders will rely on a system that’s worked from day one for Coach Leach’s program. Expect some fun at Boone Pickens Stadium.


Other Game Considered: Baylor @ Texas (11/14)


Week 12: Kansas @ Texas (November 21st)


Just like the Oklahoma/Nebraska game two weeks prior this could be a preview of the Big 12 Championship Game. But Kansas has never beaten the Longhorns in a Big 12 conference game, with the closest result being a 27-23 loss in Lawrence back in 2004. All the other meetings have been blowouts, with Texas winning the last two by a combined score of 101-21. A win here could rival the FedEx Orange Bowl over Virginia Tech as the biggest in the recent history of Kansas football, but they’ll have to work awfully hard on both sides of the ball to get the job done. The Texas secondary is a year older and a year better, something that could put a clamp on the Reesing-to-Briscoe combination, and the offensive production from the likes of Colt McCoy goes without mentioning. How much of an impact can the home crowd have? They’ll need to be in full throat if the Jayhawks are to beat the Longhorns.


Other Games Considered: Oklahoma @ Texas Tech (11/21), Colorado @ Oklahoma State (11/19)


Week 13: Oklahoma State @ Oklahoma (November 28th)


The Sooners punched a ticket to the Big 12 Championship Game with a win in Stillwater last November, and they’ve won the last six in the series between the two rivals after the Cowboys had won two straight. It seems as if ever since former OSU coach Les Miles made the statement that “Oklahoma is the best team in America…or so we’re told” leading up to the 2003 game (final score: OU 52-9) the Sooners have made sure to not lose this game.


Last year’s game featured fifty-two first downs and 1,009 yards of total offense, and was 44-41 Oklahoma with 10:33 remaining following a Parrish Cox kickoff return. Then the Sooners scored the game’s final seventeen points for the final 61-41 margin. The key for the Cowboy defense is to take away the explosive nature of Oklahoma’s offense. They’re going to score; but if you allow Sam Bradford and company to do whatever they want they’re most likely going to pull a “Barry Switzer” and hang half-a-hundred on you.


Other Games Considered: Texas @ Texas A&M (11/26), Baylor vs. Texas Tech (11/28 in Arlington, TX)


Week 14: Big 12 Championship Game (December 5th in Arlington, TX)


The pick here is that Texas beats Nebraska to win the Big 12 title.