With the college football season still being a little less than three months away the dog days of summer seem to drag by at a slow pace. Once the season actually arrives there are going to be several games on a national level that will affect the race for the BCS and for the Big XII there are a handful of games that will determine who represents the conference in a BCS bowl following the season. Then there are games that have no bearing on the conference but are sure to spark the interest of fans nonetheless. Here's a look at ten Big XII games to keep an eye on in 2012.
10. Nov 17th – Iowa St at Kansas – Alright, don’t give up on the list after reading this first one. There’s a reason this game is #10 and not any higher… actually two reasons. Those reasons are Iowa State and Kansas. Neither is going to set the college football world on fire this fall but for the Cyclones this game could determine their bowl eligibility. Iowa State closes out their season by playing games against Oklahoma, at Texas, at Kansas and against West Virginia. Beating the Jayhawks on November 17th is crucial to ISU reaching the minimum of six wins.
9. Sept 15th – TCU at Kansas – What? Kansas makes this list twice? Give me a second to explain myself. Not only will this be the first Big XII conference game with Charlie Weis roaming the sidelines as a head coach, it will also be the first Big XII game featuring TCU as a member of the conference. That’s worth tuning in for a little while at least.
8. Nov 24th – TCU at Texas – They won’t admit it but Texas lost a rivalry that was every bit as prominent as what OU lost with Nebraska’s departure when Texas A&M pouted off to the SEC. While the Aggies are learning to be walked on as an SEC doormat the Longhorns are in need of a new in-state rivalry that will draw interest and sell tickets. Enter the Horned Frogs who immediately will fill that void as a team that hates the Longhorns and a team who Texas hates to lose to.
7. Sept 29 – Baylor at WVU – Last year, with RGIII under center, the Bears were able to win games in an entertaining shootout fashion. Not only is this the first Big XII conference game for the Mountaineers but it’s the first opportunity we’ll have to see if the post Griffin era of the Baylor offense can match a team blow-for-blow.
6. Sept 29th – Texas at Oklahoma St – In my opinion the top of the Big XII shakes down in this order: 1) Oklahoma, 2) West Virginia, 3) Kansas State. Both Texas and Oklahoma State are going to say that they deserve to be in the running as well and the winner of this game will have a leg up on the other.
5. Nov 24th – Oklahoma St at Oklahoma – You’ve got to believe that this game has been circled on Oklahoma’s schedule for a while now. After traveling to Stillwater for two consecutive seasons the Sooners, and their fans, are looking forward to Bedlam back in Norman. OSU fans have to have this game noted as well because despite finally crossing over to actually winning a conference championship Bedlam is still the pinnacle of their season. In the back of their minds they know a 40-point beat down is coming.
4. Oct 13th – Oklahoma/Texas - Regardless of rankings or records this game is played every year in arguably the best atmosphere in all of college football. The Longhorns are looking to end a two-year losing streak to the Sooners while Oklahoma obviously would like to keep the streak alive.
3. Sept 22nd – Kansas St at Oklahoma – This early season game is crucial to both teams’ run at a Big XII title. After taking the conference by surprise in 2011 the Wildcats aren’t going to sneak up on anyone this season. Oklahoma will provide an early test to a retooled KSU offensive line.
2. Nov 3rd – West Virginia at TCU – Both teams are entering the Big XII feeling as if they have a chance to be title contenders. This game is late enough in the season where it very well may determine which of the two stays in the hunt.
1. Nov 17th – Oklahoma at West Virginia – This is the game, again in my opinion, that should serve as the de facto Big XII championship game. If the season progresses the way both schools expect it to then the media attention around this game will be insane and a trip to the BCS championship game could be on the line.