The 2012 Big 12 football schedule, released today, includes first-year members TCU and West Virginia and offers lots of matchups with historic implications. Here are five games that should not be ignored:
Sept. 15, TCU at Kansas: The Horned Frogs make their Big 12 debut against a Kansas team led by first-year coach Charlie Weis, who won three Super Bowls as the New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator under Bill Belichick. How quickly will the reigning Mountain West champs adjust to their new neighborhood?
Sept. 29, Baylor at West Virginia: The Mountaineers play their first game as a Big 12 member in a matchup of the two highest-scoring offenses in bowl history. Baylor defeated Washington, 67-56, in record-setting fashion at the Alamo Bowl before West Virginia broke the Bears’ bowl scoring record with a 70-33 rout of Clemson in the Orange Bowl. One huge difference: Baylor QB Robert Griffin III is headed to the NFL. West Virginia QB Geno Smith returns in 2012.
Oct. 13, Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas): The neutral-site setting in the Cotton Bowl remains one of college football’s best spectacles, regardless of how well the teams are playing. If Texas can solve its quarterback riddle, this matchup could have title implications at the conference and national levels.
Nov. 10, West Virginia at Oklahoma State: This contest features a rare matchup between conference members that both won league titles, as well as BCS bowl games, last season. Oklahoma State, the defending Big 12 champ, won the Fiesta Bowl. West Virginia, last year’s Big East champ, won the Orange Bowl. This also is a reunion for West Virginia coach Dana Holgorsen, who served as the Cowboys' offensive coordinator in 2010 before taking over the Mountaineers' program.
Dec. 1, Oklahoma at TCU: The Horned Frogs close their first Big 12 season with a home game against Oklahoma, the pre-season league favorite and a national title contender. TCU could be going for its fourth consecutive conference title in this matchup: one in the Big 12, plus the last three in the Mountain West.
_ Jimmy Burch