It’s 2016 and the conference is starting off the season with some big matchups (intended and unintended).
Early Saturday features a game that Oklahoma didn’t anticipate being as big as it’s turned out to be. The Sooners go to Houston to play the Cougars at Reliant Stadium. With Houston coming off it’s best season in recent memory, they look to upset the 3rd ranked Sooners in their hometown and make a statement. I think they can score, but with 3 of 5 starters on the offensive line graduated and Greg Ward’s favorite target in the passing game in 2015, now playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, it may be tougher than most expect. After getting handled pretty well by Clemson in the playoff last year, Stoops’ Sooners will look to make this a statement game early on, which they need to do with Ohio State headed to Norman in a couple of weeks.Sooners win 42-24.
Kansas State travels west to play at Stanford. Stanford was left out of the playoff last season, but just barely. They will be lead by Heisman hopeful running back, Chrisitian McCaffrey, and will likely try to run the ball right down the Wildcats’ throat. Do not count out KSU. Bill Snyder is one of those coaches who always seems to do the most with the least. I look for Stanford in the win at home, but much closer than expected. 31-28 Cardinal.
2016 is a make or break year for Dana Holgerson in Morgantown. The best record the Mountaineers have posted since coming to the Big XII in 2012 is 8-5 last season and a 5th place finish in conference play. They need to do better than that this year or Crazy Hair Dana may very well be gone. Look for them to start out strong against the Missouri Tigers who are coming of a horrible 5-7 season. I don’t think the Tigers improve much this year. Eers win at home – 38-24.
Notre Dame heads to Austin for the prime time game on ABC against the Longhorns. The horns are coming off a 5-7 season and, like Holgerson, Charlie Strong is in a make-or-break mode this year (They’re a lot less patient in Austin). Unfortunately, I don’t think Texas can get it done against the Domers. Notre Dame wins this one, though in a low scoring contest – 20-13.
Now, as to the rest of the conference this weekend, I’m not going to delve into much of it other than to say, if they don’t go 6-0 as conference in the remaining games, it’s a sad year indeed. Ther other 6 games on the Big XII slate this weekend feature all FCS opponents:
Northwestern State at Baylor, SE Louisiana at Oklahoma State, Rhode Island at Kansas, Northern Iowa at Iowa State, Stephen F. Austin at Texas Tech, and South Dakota State at TCU. Aside from Northern Iowa at Iowa State (one of the better FCS schools at one of the worst teams in the Big XII), none of those games should be close. But I’m sure Kansas will find a way to blow it somehow (they lost to South Dakota State last year to kick of their winless 2015).