September in the Big 12

February 25, 2020 by Dave Congrove

2019 saw Oklahoma put together a third consecutive 12-1 season to earn a third straight appearance in the College Football Playoff Final Four. But once again, the Sooners were dispatched in the semifinals to drop to 0-4 all-time in playoff games.

So what will be different in 2020?

Oklahoma will likely once again be the league favorite, though Lincoln Riley and Company will have to it without Heisman Trophy runner-up Jalen Hurts at quarterback. The QB job is expected to go to either redshirt freshman Spencer Rattler or redshirt sophomore Tanner Mordecai. The schedule should allow Oklahoma to have until the October 10th Texas game to get the new quarterback clicking.

After opening at home versus FCS member Missouri State on September 5th, the Sooners will host Tennessee in week 2, then take a week off before visiting Army. October begins with a home game against 2019 conference runner-up Baylor, whom Oklahoma defeated twice last season. Baylor has a new head coach in Dave Aranda after Matt Rhule left for the NFL's Carolina Panthers. Aranda spent the last four years as the defensive coordinator at LSU.

The Aranda era will begin in the AdvoCare Texas Kickoff game in Houston against Ole Miss in a contest that will also mark the inaugural game for the Rebels under new head coach Lane Kiffin. Mark that one on the calendar as must-see TV.

The first Big 12 team to take to the field in 2020 will be Oklahoma State which faces Oregon State at home on Thursday, September 3. The Cowboys went 8-5 a year ago and finished in a 4-way tie for third in the conference with a 5-4 mark against Big 12 foes. They'll host Tulsa on September 12th, and then enjoy a third straight home game against FCS member Western Illinois before taking their bye week. The conference opener will be a tall task as it sends Mike Gundy's troops to Fort Worth to take on TCU.

Kansas State, Texas and Iowa State are the teams that tied with Oklahoma State for third in the Big 12 a year ago.

Kansas State was a pleasant surprise in their first season under Kris Klieman as winning records haven't been accomplished often when the program was led by a head coach not named Bill Snyder. Ron Prince did it once (7-6 in 2006), Jim Dickey did it once (6-5-1 in 1982) and Vince Gibson did it once (6-5 in 1970). Snyder only had 7 losing seasons in his 28 years at the helm.

The Wildcats should open with a 3-0 record as they begin the year with a 3-game home stretch against Buffalo, FCS member North Dakota and SEC bottom-dweller Vanderbilt. The Big 12 slate begins at West Virginia on October 3.

Texas was a bit of a disappointment in 2019. The Longhorns were a top ten team at the start of the season, but finished 8-5 overall. They fell to LSU at home, Oklahoma in Dallas, and lost all three road trips in the back-half of the season to TCU, Iowa State and Baylor.

The first four games of the 2020 season have Texas opening at home against USF, visiting LSU, returning home to meet UTEP, and then traveling to Kansas State for the conference opener after a bye week.

Iowa State was expected to contend for the Big 12 title, but went 7-6 overall with four losses by one possession before consecutive drops to Kansas State and Notre Dame (bowl game) to end the year.

The Cyclones open September 5 at home against FCS member South Dakota before visiting Iowa in hopes of ending a 5-game losing streak to their main state rival. Iowa State has UNLV and Texas Tech at home in the final two weeks of September.

West Virginia is another Big 12 team that will open the season at a neutral location against a team with a new head coach. The Mountaineers face Mike Norvell and Florida State in one of three Chick-fil-A kickoff games. The WVU-FSU contest is on Saturday, September 5, followed by Georgia-Virginia on Labor Day Monday and North Carolina-Auburn the following Saturday.

West Virginia faithful hope the second season under Neal Brown shows a vast improvement on a 2019 finish of 5-7 overall and 3-6 in conference play. It was the school's first losing season since 2013 when Dana Holgorsen was in his second year as head coach.

TCU was 5-7 a year ago and won only once in its last five outings. The Horned Frogs begin the 20th season under Gary Patterson by heading to California on September 5, and then return home to play FCS member Prairie View A&M. After that, an early bye week precedes a road trip to SMU.

Matt Wells had a rough start as the first-year head coach at Texas Tech. After easy wins over Montana State (FCS) and UTEP, the Red Raiders managed just two more victories the rest of the season.

Texas Tech starts year two of the Wells era by traveling 346 miles from Lubbock to El Paso to face a UTEP program that is 0-8 against the Red Raiders since taking a 26-14 victory in 1957. The Texas Tech home opener comes in week two versus FCS member Alabama State, followed by a home date with Arizona to round-out the non-conference portion of the schedule.

Kansas won two of the first three games to launch the Les Miles era, beating Indiana State at home and Boston College on the road. It was all downhill after that as the Jayhawks went 1-8 the rest of the way with the only conference win coming at home over Texas Tech.

Kansas starts the 2020 season at home against FCS member New Hampshire before an early conference game at Baylor. The Jayhawks then return home to face Boston College before concluding September at Coastal Carolina. Kansas lost at home to the Chanticleers a year ago.