The Thunder are done, the Rangers are a long way back in the American League West. That leaves us with a long, hot summer of anticipating college football.
Let’s look at the Big 12 schedule.
Best non-conference games by team
Oklahoma: at Ohio State.
West Virginia: vs. Virginia Tech (at Landover, Md.)
Texas: at USC
Iowa State: vs. Iowa
Baylor: at Duke
Kansas: vs. Central Michigan
Texas Tech: vs. Arizona State
Kansas State: at Vanderbilt
Oklahoma State: at Pittsburgh
TCU: at Arkansas
Worst non-conference schedule: This award goes annually to Baylor, but the Bears did add a game at Duke this season. Kansas gets the nod this year. Sure, the Jayhawks aren’t exactly the flag bearers for the Big 12, but when you play Southeast Missouri State, Central Michigan and then play at a MAC team (Ohio), that doesn’t exactly sweeten the deal. KU is the only team in the conference not to have a Power 5 on the schedule. Also: Kansas State. The Wildcats get Central Arkansas and Charlotte at home before going to Vanderbilt. Not the best.
Best conference opener: TCU at Oklahoma State (Oct. 23). Oklahoma State, by many, is the team to watch this season in the Big 12. We’ll get a good look at how good the Cowboys are immediately. Also: Texas at Iowa State (Thursday, Sept. 28). Thursday night games in Ames, Iowa, are always a curious situation.
Toughest conference stretch: Oklahoma State does get Oklahoma in Stillwater this season, but the Cowboys will be playing OU on the third week of a three-week stretch that includes road games at Texas and at West Virginia, without an off-week. Also: Texas has a three-game stretch, none at home, coming at Kansas State, vs. Texas (in Dallas), at Oklahoma State. Also, also: Baylor goes to Oklahoma State, gets West Virginia and then Texas at home in a three-game stretch without an off-week.
Best final-week game of the season: West Virginia at Oklahoma. The Sooners and the Cowboys are expected to be the best two teams in the conference, but West Virginia isn’t exactly Iowa State or Kansas. If the Sooners are in position to go to the Big 12 title game, they’ll have plenty to lose against West Virginia, including possibly a spot in the college playoff.
Team most-likely to be undefeated after non-conference play: Kansas State. The Central Arkansas, Charlotte, at Vandy gauntlet looks pretty achievable. Baylor has the next-best shot with its openers against Liberty, UTSA and then at Duke. Every other team has at least one “losable” game or, in the case of Kansas, has three of them.