Hey, what do you know? West Virginia is officially in and now we have some actual football games to start talking about with the release of the Big 12's schedule today.
Here's the official link of the schedule release on the Big 12's website. You can also see each team's schedule as it stands now (some teams are still filling the out of conference schedule, namely Oklahoma) at the links below.
Here are a few quick notes and thoughts for each team on what to expect in 2012.
Baylor won ten games in 2011, but they'll be hard pressed to get back to that mark in 2012. They look to have the league's toughest road schedule with games at West Virginia, Texas and Oklahoma. All that without some guy named Robert Griffin running the offense.
Iowa State starts Big 12 play by hosting Texas Tech on September 29th and then plays nine straight weeks without a bye before completing their conference slate. The Cyclones, along with Texas Tech, are the only teams in the conference without a game on December 1st, the last week of the regular season.
Kansas hosts newcomer TCU on September 15th which will be the first conference game of the year. They also finish the season with the other newbie, West Virginia. The Jayhawks are one of the teams with five conference road games in what will be Charile Weis' first season. Dayne Crist, are you ready?
Kansas State gets the pleasure of opening their Big 12 schedule in Norman against the Sooners on September 22nd and they also get to travel east to take on West Virginia this fall. Both Oklahoma State and Texas will play in Manhattan in 2012.
Oklahoma's biggest obstacle remains finding two more out-of league games to go along with Notre Dame. As for their Big 12 schedule, they travel to both West Virginia and TCU for their initiation to the Big 12's newest teams. And after playing Oklahoma State in early December last season, the Bedlam game is back in its familiar position on Thanksgiving weekend.
Oklahoma State, unlike OU, gets to stay home to play West Virginia and TCU. But after two straight years of getting the Sooners at home, they have to head to Norman this season. They open their Big 12 schedule on September 29th against Texas in their first big test without Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon.
TCU gets the pleasure of playing the league's first conference game when they head to Lawrence to face Kansas who went 0-for the Big 12 last season. They also hit the road against Oklahoma State and West Virginia before finishing at home against Oklahoma. It'll be interesting to see how the Horned Frogs handle the grind in their first season away from the Mountain West.
Texas opens Big 12 play in Stillwater versus Oklahoma State and then will play host to Dana Holgorsen and West Virginia. The two matchups precede the Red River Rivalry which is the following week giving Texas a very tough opening stretch to the conference season.
Texas Tech will join Iowa State as the other team without a bye week once the conference season gets underway. That being said, the fans in Lubbock should be happy with a solid slate of home games including Oklahoma, West Virginia, Texas, and Baylor.
West Virginia will get five home games in their first season with Kansas State, TCU, and Oklahoma all having to visit Morgantown. They also open Big 12 play at home against Baylor. After watching Dana Holgorsen's offense put up 70 on Clemson in the Orange Bowl, it's a scary thought to think how many they could put on Baylor whose defense hasn't exactly been a steel curtain of late.
Quantity over Quality?
The Big 12 went through its first season without a championship game in 2011, but was fortunate in the fact that the Oklahoma State- Oklahoma game, which was moved back a week, served as the de facto conference championship game. With that game returning to its normal Thanksgiving weekend slot, it appears less likely the Big 12 will have such a matchup in 2012.
Obviously anything could happen, but the two best games during Championship weekend appear to be Texas at Kansas State and Oklahoma visiting TCU. Eight of the ten Big 12 teams will be playing on December 1st which should still give the league some strong exposure while the Big Ten, Pac-12, ACC, and SEC hold their title games.