It's Master's weekend, the Major League Baseball season is here, and spring football is in full swing around the country. All that means the start of the college football season is a mere five months away.
The Big 12 schedule is out, although the possibility still exists that a few games could be moved to fill in a Thursday or Friday television slot as the TV partners set their viewing schedule for the fall season. But as it stands now, here's a look what Big 12 fans can expect from the opening month of the season. A glimpse at October and November/December will be coming on Monday and Tuesday of next week.
For now, here's what's on tap in the Big 12 in September.
Best Game of the Month
Texas @ Oklahoma State - Saturday, September 29th
Thankfully there are a few conference games during the final week of the opening month to make up for a less than stellar slate of nonconference games that dominates the early part of the schedule. The best of those will happen in Stillwater when Texas tries to end a two game losing streak against the defending Big 12 champs. Conference titles aren't decided in September, but the winner of this game should will have a leg up on challenging the preseason conference favorite, Oklahoma.
Best Non Conference Game of the Month (tie)
Miami @ Kansas State - Saturday, September 8th
Kansas State used last season's win at Miami and the momentum from the game-ending goal line stand to propel them to a 10 win season. They'll need to same kind of performance in the season's second week to set the tone again for the 2012 season.
The Hurricanes are coming off a 6-6 season (3-5 in ACC) and return just 10 starters combined on offense and defense. The Hurricanes signed a class of 33 recruits in their last class, 10 of whom are on campus for spring football as Miami tries to shore up its depth issues. Taking a relatively inexperienced team to Manhattan won't be an easy chore.
Oklahoma State @ Arizona - Saturday, September 8th
The Cowboys will face a lot of unknowns heading into the season as they try to replace the duo of Brandon Weeden and Justin Blackmon. Whoever wins the starting quarterback job for the Cowboys will face their first test of the season in the desert against an Arizona team that will be looking to get the Rich Rodriguez era off to a fast start.
Get Ready for a Bunch of Lopsided Games
The Big 12 will play a nine game conference schedule for the second straight season which does create some uniformity among the leagues' conference schedules. The downside, however, appears to be teams playing fewer and fewer marquee out-of-conference games
Outside of the two games mentioned above, the only game with any real intrigue in the nonconference schedule will be Iowa State's trip to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes on September 8th (OU does play Notre Dame, but not until October). Texas also plays at Ole Miss who finished 0-8 in the SEC last season, but after that, there are nine games against FCS teams and a combined 12 games against Conference USA, Sun Belt, and Mountain West teams
The Conference Season Begins
The best conference game was mentioned above (Texas @ Oklahoma State) but there are several others that will also provide plenty of intrigue before calendar flips to October.
TCU @ Kansas - Saturday, September 15th
TCU's first ever game in the Big 12 will happen in Lawrence which will also be Charlie Weis' first taste of the Big 12 as the Jayhawks head coach. It will also be the first chance for many to see new KU quarterback, Dayne Crist, under center for the Jayhawks.
Kansas State @ Oklahoma - Saturday, September 22nd
The Wildcats won 10 games a season ago, but they were ran off the field in their game against the Sooners. Kansas State was outscored 35-0 after halftime in their 58-17 loss to Oklahoma. Many think Kansas State will once again challenge for the Big 12 title and they'll have a chance for redemption before the first month is complete. Getting it done in Norman won't be easy, however.
Baylor @ West Virginia - Saturday, September 29th
West Virginia's first look at the Big 12 comes in the form of the Baylor Bears, albeit a Baylor team missing a couple of pretty good players in Robert Griffin and Kendall Wright. Baylor is hoping for big improvements in Phil Bennett's second season as defensive coordinator and they'll be put to the test early trying to slow down Dana Holgorsen's crew.
The Best of the Rest
Oklahoma @ UTEP - Saturday, September 1st. The Sooners open against the Miners on the road, but UTEP shouldn't be much more than minor speed bump for the Big 12 favorites.
Wyoming @ Texas - Saturday, September 1st. The Cowboys are coming off an 8-5 season, but finished 115th in the country stopping the run. Malcolm Brown and Joe Bergeron should get plenty of work in the Longhorns' opener.
Maryland @ West Virginia - Saturday, September 22. The Mountaineers shouldn't have much trouble with the Terps, but at least it's a game between two FBS schools.
Texas Tech @ Iowa State, Saturday, September 29th. The last time Texas Tech traveled to Ames was in 2010; they lost 52-38 to the Cyclones. Things didn't go much better last year in Lubbock when they took it on the chin, 41-7, one week after knocking off top-ranked Oklahoma.