I am sure I speak for most college football fans when I say I wish the season were already here. I started looking at the schedules of the Big 12 teams this week, and while we have plenty of time to beat them to death before the season starts, I wanted to highlight the best five non-conference games involving Big 12 teams. To be honest there aren't a ton of non-conference games that are intriguing but there are a handful games that I am looking forward to watching. I managed to put a list of the top five non-conference games. The West Virginia vs. Maryland and Iowa State vs Iowa matchups are semi-intriguing, but they just missed the cut. The rest of the non-conference opponents are mostly directional state universities and sisters of the poor that should lead to a lot of wins for the Big 12.
#5) Baylor vs ........Just kidding, we all know Baylor doesn't play anybody in non-conference.
So seriously, here we go....
#5) Texas Tech @ Arkansas, September 19th @ TBD
This will be the first opportunity for new DC David Gibbs to flex his defensive muscle against a high quality opponent. While most Red Raider fans I know do not expect a win, we would all like to see the defense put up a second half fight and not get run over like a helpless armadillo circa 2014. If we can stop the run and force them into passing down every so often, we will have a shot. A good showing versus a very tough SEC team could be a confidence builder and lead to a much-improved 2015 season.
#4) Cal @ Texas, September 19th @ TBD
This is an intriguing matchup for both teams. Cal improved from one win in Sonny Dykes' first season to five wins last season. The Longhorns will be the first real test for them. Some Golden Bear fans expect a bowl this season and the Longhorn game may go a long way in determining whether they go bowling. Charlie Strong's free ride is over. Longhorn fans are ready to start seeing improvements in year two of his regime. The defense will be nasty, but that doesn't matter very much. Success will largely be determined by finding out whether Swoopes or Heard can consistently lead the offense into the end zone.
#3) TCU @ Minnesota, September 3rd @ 8pm
This is a potential early season stumbling block for the Horned Frogs. They beat a solid Golden Gopher team at home last season. However, winning on the road is a much tougher task. This Minnesota team is a dark horse to win the Big 10's West division according to some college football pundits. TCU will be looking to make a statement early in the season that last year wasn't a fluke. Trevor Boykin will get to kick off his Heisman campaign on national television. (Spoiler alert.... He is overrated.)
#2) Oklahoma @ Tennessee, September 12th @ TBD
The return of Baker Mayfield will be must see TV for a lot of Red Raider fans. OU has a stud running back in Samaje Perine to line up behind Baker to help him out. Like the Longhorns, their defense will be stronger than their offense and quarterback play will largely determine a successful season. Tennessee is very similar to Minnesota in the fact that some pundits are expecting big things out of them this year after they won four of their last five games to end the 2014 season. Neyland Stadium will be rocking with more than 100,000 crazy Volunteer fans hoping to send Sooner nation home with a loss.
#1) Texas @ Notre Dame, September 5th @6:30pm
These are two of the most consistently over rated teams in the nation. Even so they are Rockfeller and Kennedy types in the college football world playing each other in the Eden of college football stadiums. This type of matchup doesn't happen that often on opening weekend, so we should all just sit back and enjoy it. I am not a fan of either team, so I will be watching and somehow hoping there is a way they can both lose this game. With the exception of 2012, Brian Kelly's teams have been pretty average at Notre Dame. This team will most likely continue that trend although they do return 19 starters so maybe things will change. First they have to figure out the quarterback situation. See my earlier notes about the Longhorns.
A quick glance at the matchups and I expect the Big 12 to go 3-2 in these games. I would expect OU and TCU to win. I also think that UT wins one of their two games. I expect a loss for Tech versus Arkansas but a better showing out of the them.