Peek at non-conference Big 12 schedules
Here's a peek ahead to the non-conference portion of the Big 12 schedule, which games are compelling and which ones are worth forgetting about.
The opponents: vs. Wofford (FCS), vs. Buffalo, vs. Louisiana-Monroe
Combined 2012 record: 21-17
Best game: Sept. 21 vs. Monroe. The Warhawks beat Arkansas and lost to Auburn and scored 42 last year on the Bears. They'll put a fight.
Interest level: Low. Not much to compel anyone to pay attention to Baylor before the Bears start the Big 12.
Count on: A 3-0 record. Baylor will have more than enough offense to handle these teams.
The opponents: vs. Northern Iowa, vs. Iowa, at Tulsa
Combined 2012 record: 20-17
Best game: Sept. 26 at Tulsa. The matchup will be the third between the teams in the past two seasons. They split last year, including a Liberty Bowl win by Tulsa. This year, the Thursday night game will be on ESPN.
Interest level: Above average. Aside from FCS Northern Iowa, Iowa State always has a compelling matchup with Iowa and the game against Tulsa should be a good game.
Count on: The Cyclones will go 2-1 with home wins against its in-state rivals.
The opponents: vs. South Dakota, at Rice, vs. Louisiana Tech
Combined 2012 record: 17-19
Best game: Sept. 21 vs. Louisiana Tech. Tech scored 40 or more points in all but one game last year and lost to Texas A&M 59-57, so even though it has a new coach this season, you can expect some offense in Lawrence this year.
Interest level: Moderate. South Dakota is an awful FCS school, so that doesn't help things.
Count on: Jayhawks should go 2-1 with a loss to Tech. USD went 1-10 last year and Rice isn't exactly Big 12 caliber, despite the fact the Owls beat KU last year.
The opponents: vs. North Dakota,, vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, vs. U-Mass
Combined 2012 record: 15-21
Best game: Well, if you have to choose one, it would have to be Sept. 7 against Lafayette. But that's even a reach.
Interest level: Dreadful. C'mon Cats, play someone. Yeah, you played Miami the past two years, but this kind of schedule is just miserable. U-Mass and North Dakota went 6-17 in FCS last year. Yuck.
Count on: Umm, yeah. If Kansas State loses to one of these three the Cats should cancel the rest of the season.
The opponents: vs. Louisiana-Monroe, vs. Tulsa, at Notre Dame
Combined 2012 record: 31-9
Best game: Sept. 28 at Notre Dame. This one probably doesn't need an explanation.
Interest level: High. The Sooners have the best non-conference schedule in the conference and maybe the country, facing three teams that went to bowl games last season, including the Irish who played in the BCS title game.
Count on: 3-0 is a possibility but winning at Notre Dame will be tough. Count on a 2-1 non-conference run. After all, the Sooners haven't even chosen a quarterback yet.
The opponents: vs. Mississippi State (in Houston), vs. Texas-San Antonio, vs. Lamar
Combined 2012 record: 20-13
Best game: Aug. 31 vs. Mississippi State. Hey, it's an SEC team, so that definitely gets anyone's attention. The Bulldogs aren't going to challenge LSU and Alabama for conference supremacy, but they did go 8-5 last year and the game against OSU will be on a neutral field.
Interest level: Above average. The games against UTSA and Lamar are duds for the home fans in Stillwater, but the chance to see an SEC team in a spot that's drivable distance away is certainly compelling. It will be a great test to see how OSU plays early in the season.
Count on: OSU will go 3-0, or at least should.
The opponents: vs. LSU (in Dallas), vs. Southeast Louisiana, vs. SMU
Combined 2012 record: 22-15
Best game: Aug. 31 in Dallas against the Tigers. While technically not a home-field for the Frogs, this is about as good as opportunity as there is. We'll see if TCU's defense can keep up with the mighty SEC. Along with OSU-Mississippi State, it should be a great day of Big 12-SEC football.
Interest level: High. When you play LSU to open the season, you're allowed a pass on the rest of the non-conference. Still, playing SMU is a nice addition to the schedule.
Count on: While everyone around these parts would love to see TCU beat LSU, it's not likely, even with Casey Pachall back at quarterback. The Frogs will go 2-1.
The opponents: vs. New Mexico State, at BYU, vs. Ole Miss
Combined 2012 record: 16-22
Best game: Sept. 7 at BYU. Got to love the fact the Longhorns are traveling west. We'll see how good David Ash can be on the road, in a night game at a place that won't be easy to win.
Interest level: High. Yeah, the combined record isn't great and New Mexico State's 1-11 record is miserable, but at least we've heard of all three of these teams, and they are all Division-I teams, too. Good for the Longhorns to put together a schedule worth paying attention to.
Count on: Texas goes 2-1. Ole Miss isn't great and the Aggies won't have a chance. BYU will be up for the Longhorns and the Cougars can play some defense. They held Notre Dame to 17 points, blew out Georgia Tech and held Boise State to seven points a season ago. UT quarterback David Ash could be in trouble.
The opponents: at SMU, vs. Stephen F. Austin, vs. Texas State
Combined 2012 record: 16-20
Best game: Sept. 30 at SMU. It's interesting because it's a Friday night game. It's also interesting because there is nothing else the least bit interesting about the Red Raiders non-conference slate.
Interest level: It's football, so we'll watch, but that's the best that can be said. Stephen F. Austin is a 5-6 FCS team. Texas State went 4-8 last year. The SMU game is only slightly noteworthy because we'll be interested to see if the Red Raiders get back to their wild, offensive ways under new coach Kliff Kingsbury.
Count on: 3-0. Even without knowing how good the offense will be, you have to figure Tech has enough to beat SMU, don't you? OK, I could be convinced otherwise.
The opponents: vs. William & Mary, vs. Georgia State, at Maryland
Combined 2012 record: 7-27
Best game: at Maryland, Sept. 21. Honestly, it's just a good game because we can make fun of the Maryland uniforms. Past that, a 4-8 team doesn't thrill anyone.
Interest level: Low, low, low. Remember when West Virginia fell apart a season ago? Well, they're about to fall off the Earth this year. Playing William & Mary (2-9 in FCS) and Georgia State (1-10) this year doesn't really push the meter much. No one is going to notice anything West Virginia does this year.
Count on: 2-1. Wins against the bad teams and a loss to a bad Maryland team is the future of this Big 12 team.
Follow Andrew Gilman on Twitter: @andrewgilmanOK