2. The one big different thing with the 2021 Big 12 season is …
There’s a real non-conference schedule, and the Big 12 can’t face-plant this time around.
In the weird 2020 season, every Big 12 team was schedule to play nine conference games with one non-conference date.
Quick – the best Big 12 non-conference win before the bowl season was … ?
Baylor didn’t get a non-conference game, Iowa State lost at home to Louisiana 31-14, Kansas lost at home to Coastal Carolina 38-23, and Kansas State lost at home to Arkansas State by four.
Okay, so someone in the conference had to do something right in non-conference play. Let’s see …
Oklahoma beat Missouri State, Texas Tech slipped past Houston Baptist 35-33, Texas rocked UTEP 59-3, TCU beat a bad Louisiana Tech 52-10, and West Virginia beat Eastern Kentucky 56-10.
Oklahoma State was lousy in a 16-7 win over a Tulsa team that turned out to be great, but that was it. That was the only thing the Big 12 did right in non-conference play. After Oklahoma started 1-2 and Texas went 2-2, that effectively eliminated the Big 12 from the College Football Playoff just as October got started.
This year the Big 12 not only has a normal non-conference schedule, but it has real live games against real live Power Five teams – except for Oklahoma State, who gets a free pass for going to Boise State, and Texas Tech, who gets a participation trophy for Houston being its toughest non-Big 12 game.
Non-conference games are everything to national perception, especially if the big ones are in the first three weeks of the season.
Oklahoma, take out Nebraska with severe prejudice.
Iowa State, do your worst at home against Iowa.
Texas, don’t biff the date at Arkansas, and TCU, go 2018 Cheez-It Bowl on Cal.
Oh yeah, and don’t lose to Louisiana, Texas, and try to finally beat Coastal Carolina for the first time in three years, Kansas.
More than anything else, at least one of the two teams in the Big 12 Championship have to get there with no more than one loss.