College Football returns in full strength this weekend, and brings with it a number of exciting matchups involving Big 12 teams.
Florida State Seminoles vs. Oklahoma State Cowboys – Saturday 7 p.m., ABC
Oklahoma State kicks off their season under the lights of Jerry Jones’ palace in Arlington, Texas against last year’s National Champions.
Florida State returns reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Jameis Winston after the sophomore quarterback took college football head on, throwing for over 4,000 yards and 40 touchdowns.
Oklahoma State won’t be picked to win by anyone outside of Stillwater, but there is hope for the Cowboys. Head coach Mike Gundy’s group returns a strong core of wide receivers and a defense that is seemingly improved from 2013.
West Virginia Mountaineers vs. Alabama Roll Tide – Saturday 2:30 p.m., ABC
West Virginia could be in for a world of hurt Saturday against Alabama, or set for a major upset early in the college football season.
Alabama may be without graduated quarterback AJ McCarron and several other pieces from last year’s squad, but head coach Nick Saban is one of the best in the business in retooling talent.
The Mountaineers will have to bounce back from last year’s 4-8 finish quickly if they want to top the Crimson Tide in SEC country. Senior quarterback Clint Trickett will have to lead the way for Dana Holgorsen’s team with a big-time performance against one of the most dominant college programs in the last decade.
North Dakota State Bison vs. Iowa State Cyclones – Saturday 11:00 a.m., Fox Sports 1
The Cyclones are well aware of who they’re up against.
Head coach Paul Rhoads said at July’s Big 12 Media Days that he watched as the Bison took down K-State in the Wildcats’ season home opener last year. Iowa State will be vying for a much different outcome behind the arm of redshirt junior quarterback Sam Richardson.
Sure, Craig Bohl left North Dakota State this past offseason to take the job at Wyoming, and the Bison are without a number of key players including graduated quarterback Brock Jensen. However, the FCS powerhouse knows how to get the job done on the road.
SMU Mustangs vs. Baylor Bears – Sunday 6:30, Fox Sports 1
Baylor is hoping for a high-scoring housewarming party this Sunday against Southern Methodist University.
The Bears will be breaking in their new McLane Stadium, a gorgeous 45,000-seat stadium featuring a walking bridge that connects the facility to campus. With senior quarterback Bryce Petty under center, Baylor fans should have lots to cheer about.
If the past is any indication, SMU has the offense to keep up with Baylor, but it may not have the defense. The Mustangs gave up an average of 412.6 yards per game last year, finishing the season 5-7. That won’t do it on Sunday against the high-energy Bears offense.
Louisiana Tech Bulldogs vs. Oklahoma Sooners – Saturday 6 p.m.
Trevor Knight is the quarterback. Blake Bell is the tight end. Oklahoma has it all figured out, at least it seems.
After an impressive end to 2013, Knight has full control of the offensive reigns at Oklahoma. The Sooners are the overwhelming preseason favorite to win the Big 12 this season and fight for a spot in the inaugural College Football Playoffs. Their road starts Saturday.
Louisiana Tech and Oklahoma haven’t met before, but the Bulldogs will be happy to have their leading passer, rusher and wide receiver from 2013. Louisiana Tech also returns eight starters from last season on the defensive side of the ball, so expect an intriguing matchup from the get go in Norman, Oklahoma.
North Texas Mean Green vs. Texas Longhorns – Saturday 7 p.m.
An in-state rivalry? Not so much. But there’s still lots to talk about heading into this one.
Charlie Strong is in charge at Texas and he’s insisted that he’s going to return Texas to its national glory. The Longhorns feature a dynamic rushing attack and a playmaking defense. Both will be tested Saturday against the Mean Green.
North Texas enjoyed a 9-4 finish last year, including a victory in the Heart of Dallas Bowl. The Mean Green will look to continue that success with an upset over the Longhorns.
Other Big 12 games:
Central Arkansas Bears vs. Texas Tech Red Raiders – Saturday 6 p.m.
Samford Bulldogs vs. TCU – Saturday 6 p.m.