#12 Oklahoma State vs. Central Michigan
Thursday, September 1st 6:00 PM CT, FS1
#12 Oklahoma State looks to build off of an impressive season last year, which included a NY6 bowl win and coming just inches short of a Big 12 championship. The Cowboys did lose a lot of key pieces, as well as their vaunted defensive coordinator, but there’s still plenty of reason for OSU to be optimistic with the return of key pieces like quarterback Spencer Sanders. They begin this year’s campaign against Central Michigan, a team the Cowboys lost to the last time they played in 2016. And as far as non-power five teams go, Central Michigan is pretty good, having gone 9-4 last season with a bowl win over Washington State. While Oklahoma State should handle this game just fine, they can’t afford to fall asleep at the wheel. Oklahoma State is a 21.5 point favorite.
35-20 Oklahoma State
West Virginia @ #17 Pittsburgh
Thursday, September 1st 6:00 PM CT, ESPN
Almost certainly the headliner of the first week of Big 12 action is this game, which marks the return of the Backyard Brawl. West Virginia coach Neal Brown is probably coaching for his job this season, after a disappointing 6-7 2021 campaign. This is a tough game to open with as the Mountaineers have to travel to rival Pitt, who is coming off of an ACC championship and a NY6 bowl berth. This matchup will tell a lot about both teams. While I think West Virginia will likely lose this game, how close they keep it will be an important indicator of the Mountaineers’ mindset this year. Pitt is a 7.5 point favorite.
Kansas vs. Tennessee Tech
Friday, September 2nd 7:00 PM CT, ESPN+
Another season, another attempt at rebuilding for Kansas football. New head coach Lance Leipold makes his debut against Tennessee Tech, an FCS team. While Kansas’s 2-10 record from last year is typically nothing to write home about, the Jayhawks saw SIGNIFICANT improvement in their last three games, which included a win over Texas and close losses to TCU and West Virginia. Much of that late season energy came from a quarterback change to Jalon Daniels, who gave the Jayhawks a huge spark. If Kansas wants to aim for an upward trajectory of 3+ wins this year, Daniels will need to remain explosive and healthy this year. That also means the Jayhawks have to win this game against an FCS squad that only went 3-8 last season. I like the Jayhawks to win here with some rare separation.
TCU @ Colorado
Friday, September 2nd 9:00 PM CT, ESPN
TCU is also entering a new year with a new head coach in Sonny Dykes. Rebuilding the TCU brand after the departure of legendary coach Gary Patterson will be difficult, and it doesn’t necessarily help that the Horned Frogs open the season with a tricky road game against Colorado. However, Colorado is hoping to greatly improve off of last season as well, as they only went 4-8. I think this should be closer than the odds predict (14 points in favor of TCU), but I’ll give the edge to TCU.
Iowa State vs. Southeast Missouri State
Saturday, September 3rd 1:00 PM CT, ESPN+
Iowa State will look like a totally different team this year, at least offensively, with the departures of arguably their best quarterback, running back, and tight ends in program history. Yet, we probably won’t learn a whole lot about them in week one as they face Southeast Missouri State, a pretty bad FCS team that only went 4-7 last year. However, Matt Campbell and Iowa State have had some real struggles against FCS teams in the past. So I do suppose that if this game is lopsided like it should be, that could be a good sign for the Cyclones moving forward.
35-13 Iowa State
#9 Oklahoma vs. UTEP
Saturday, September 3rd 2:30 PM CT, FOX
#9 Oklahoma is yet another Big 12 team with a new head coach in Brent Venables. The Sooners lost a ton of talent to transfers when Lincoln Riley bolted for USC, so it will be interesting to see what the Sooners look like this year. While they should easily be able to handle UTEP (0-1), the Miners are a sneaky team on the rise, posting a 7-6 record last season. They did lose their week zero game to North Texas, but those early games can be a bit hard to judge. Regardless, if Oklahoma doesn’t win this game by 20+ there might be some nervous chatter coming out of Norman. Oklahoma is a 31.5 point favorite.
#10 Baylor vs. Albany
Saturday, September 3rd 6:00 PM CT, ESPN+
#10 Baylor is looking to repeat its best season in program history which featured a Big 12 championship and a NY6 bowl victory. There is plenty of optimism for the Bears to pick up right where they left off with a lot of returning talent, and that all starts with this game against Albany. You can read more about Albany in my opponent preview here, but basically Albany is one of the weaker FCS teams around, only posting a 2-9 record last season. Baylor should steam roll them. If they don’t, that could raise some red flags.
Kansas State vs. South Dakota
Saturday, September 3rd 6:00 PM CT, ESPN+
Kansas State is a popular dark horse Big 12 contender pick. There is reason for optimism after the Wildcats put together an 8-5 record last year. But KState will have to take the next step if they want to seriously be in that title conversation, and that starts with this matchup against South Dakota, an FCS squad. South Dakota is one of the better FCS teams out there, having posted a 7-5 record last year, including falling just three points short of Kansas. Still, Kansas State should win this game with little issue.
38-10 Kansas State
Texas Tech vs. Murray State
Saturday, September 3rd 7:00 PM CT, ESPN+
Yet another Big 12 team debuts its new head coach, as former Baylor assistant coach Joey McGuire leads Texas Tech this year. Tech actually had a decent season last year, going 7-6 with a lopsided bowl win over Mississippi State. That made the midseason firing of Matt Wells a bit odd, but nevertheless here we are. The Red Raiders open their season with Murray State, an FCS team that put together a 6-5 record last year. Again, even with a new coach and a potential slight rebuild, this is a game the Red Raiders should easily win at home. If not, there might be more work to be done by McGuire than expected.
38-17 Texas Tech
Texas vs. UL Monroe
Saturday, September 3rd 7:00 PM CT, LHN
Texas enters its second year under head coach Steve Sarkisian. And I think every Longhorn would like to forget his first season, which included a 5-7 record, a loss to Kansas, and a monkey scandal. It will be highly tempting for the Longhorns to look ahead in this game, as they play Alabama next week. But Texas can’t afford to do that as a loss to UL Monroe, who posted a 4-8 record last year, would derail the season before it really even begins. That being said, according to basically every metric conceivable, Texas should win this game and should win it with ease. Even if they don’t lose, if this game is close that could say a lot about a continuing lack of mental maturity in the Texas locker room. We’ll see. Texas is a 37.5 point favorite.