It will still be awhile before we see any Big 12 matchups, but the start of college football season and some awesome non-conference games are right around the corner. Here’s a look at the best non-conference games involving Big 12 schools this season:
10. Oklahoma State vs. Pittsburgh: It’s not the most exciting matchup in the world, but it’s a power five contest nonetheless, which is ultimately what makes non-conference games interesting. This would be way more compelling if it were the Mountaineers vs. the Panthers in a Backyard Brawl reunion.
9. Iowa State @ Iowa: While the Hawkeyes appear to be the better team on paper, the Cyclones will have a chance to prove themselves under new head coach Matt Campbell early in the season during a classic rivalry game.
8. Texas Tech @ Arizona State: This is one of three Big 12 vs. Pac-12 matchups on the non-conference slate, and a rematch of the 2013 Holiday Bowl upset in Texas Tech’s favor. The Red Raider offense should be excited to play on the big stage in Death Valley, as this is likely to be a great game.
7. West Virginia vs. Missouri: A former Big 12 school that wanted to go to the Big Ten but wound up in the SEC against a former Big East school that wanted to go to the ACC or SEC but wound up in the Big 12. What’s not to like? This one should be fun to watch.
6. Kansas State @ Stanford: Bill Snyder’s Wildcats are predictably unpredictable, consistently inconsistent. When everyone picks them to have a down year, they’ll contend for a conference title. An early season matchup on the west coast against Heisman candidate Christian McCaffrey and the Stanford Cardinal should give us a decent indication as to what kind of football team Kansas State will have this year. It’s worth noting, though, that Kansas State seems to always improve as the season wears on.
5. Texas @ California: Not only should this be a great matchup between two notable power five teams, but former Red Raider Davis Webb will be leading the charge against one of Texas Tech’s biggest rivals. Oddly enough, in his three years at Texas Tech, Webb never got a chance to play the Longhorns.
4. Oklahoma @ Houston (NRG Stadium): Some might have this one ranked higher due to Houston’s great season last year, but I am not yet convinced Houston can consistently hang with college football’s big boys. I expect Oklahoma to win relatively handily, but Houston could always surprise me and make this a great game to watch.
3. TCU vs. Arkansas: A classic Southwest Conference matchup and a good early season test to measure TCU’s progress in rebuilding after losing a whole lot of firepower on offense. This should be fun for fans all across the Big 12.
2. Texas vs. Notre Dame: Even though Texas has been mediocre at best the last few years, Texas and Notre Dame will always be a classic matchup given each school’s prestigious history. Many believe Texas will rebound this season from not making a bowl game in each of the last two years. It may not be a matchup of top 10 teams, but it’s incredibly noteworthy nonetheless.
1. Oklahoma vs. Ohio State: This is not just the best non-conference matchup in the Big 12 in 2016, it’s the best non-conference game in recent memory. Not only are Oklahoma and Ohio State arguably on college football’s Mt. Rushmore for their history, they’re two of the top programs in the nation right now as well. This should be one heck of a game, and is bound to have early season playoff implications. Lastly, it’s symbolic of a battle between the Big 12 and the Big Ten, adding to the intrigue.
WVU vs. BYU (Landover, MD): Since BYU is the frontrunner if the Big 12 ever decides to expand, this could be a conference game in a year or two.
Kansas @ Memphis: I commend Kansas for at least scheduling someone decent like Memphis, even if the Tigers aren’t a power five school.
Baylor vs. SMU: This is me sort of acknowledging a pretty cool rivalry, and also me making fun of Baylor for not scheduling anyone with a pulse.