Ranking the 2010 Big 12 South Schedules

Which of the six teams in the Big 12 South Division has the easiest route to playing in the league's championship game at Cowboys Stadium in early December? Well, here's a quick primer on who should be there, who might have a chance and who doesn't have a prayer.

BAYLOR

The Bears open up with Sam Houston State and Buffalo in Waco before travelling to TCU and Rice to complete their non-league slate. Baylor should win against SHSU, Buffalo and Rice but lost 27-0 to TCU in their last trip to Fort Worth, which was back in 2007. That would give them a 3-1 start heading into their October 2 league opener with Kansas, a team BU beat 36-35 at Floyd Casey Stadium in 2006.

Besides the Jayhawks, the Bears will also host Texas Tech, Texas, Texas A&M and Oklahoma, quite a formidable list of foes this fall. On the road, Baylor travels to face Colorado, where they won 34-31 in three overtimes a few years ago, Kansas State, whom they beat in Waco 17-3 in 2006 and Oklahoma State, a team that they have struggled against. The 2010 season might start well for the Bears, but a tough run against the teams of the South could be too much to overcome.

OKLAHOMA

OU hosts Utah State, Florida State, Air Force and Cincinnati to start the 2010 regular season. Only Utah State didn't make a bowl one year ago. Then, on October 2 comes the annual Red River Shootout with Texas in Dallas. The Sooners will also host Iowa State, Colorado, Texas A&M and Texas Tech in Big 12 play. The Crimson and Cream has a good history against the Cyclones and Aggies but comes off a 41-13 loss to Tech last fall in Lubbock, meaning Bob Stoops' 2010 team could want to exact some revenge at Owen Field.

On the road, the Sooners travel to Missouri, Baylor and finish the year at Oklahoma State. The Tigers and Cowboys were both bowl teams a year ago, meaning that of OU's 12 regular-season games, nine will be against teams that played in a bowl game. OU has won their last two trips to Columbia, haven't lost to Baylor as a Big 12 school and have beaten their in-state rivals the last seven years.

OKLAHOMA STATE

In non-league play, the Cowboys face Washington State, who was 1-11 last year, Troy, Tulsa and travel to Louisiana-Lafayette. Only Troy was a bowl team last year at 9-4. OSU will host Texas A&M, Nebraska, Baylor, Texas and Oklahoma in Stillwater this fall. The Pokes have beaten the Aggies two straight years, including a 36-31 win at Kyle Field last fall, meaning the 2010 Ags will have revenge on their mind and could leave town with a win, where A&M is 5-2 as a member of the Big 12.

Head coach Mike Gundy is 2-0 against Nebraska, beating them in Lincoln in 2007 and in Stillwater the year before. However, this is a much better Cornhusker squad, which could mean trouble. OSU never has much problem with Baylor but Gundy is a combined 0-10 against the Longhorns and Sooners. The Cowboys' last win over UT was in 1997 under Bob Simmons. O-State last beat OU in 2002 under Les Miles. OSU faces Texas Tech, Kansas State and Kansas on the road this fall. Gundy has never beaten Tech in Lubbock, is 0-1 against K-State in Manhattan and beat the Jayhawks on their home field in 2006. KSU was 6-6 last year while KU was 5-7. Call both of these games toss-ups.

TEXAS

Mack Brown's Longhorns start the year by hosting Rice and Wyoming in Austin before travelling to Lubbock on September 18 to open Big 12 play. UT lost the last time they played the Red Raiders out in West Texas, 39-33 in 2008. In mid-October, the ‘Horns also face another pretty stiff road test when they travel to Nebraska. In early November, Texas will also face Kansas State in Manhattan. Besides Rice and Wyoming, Texas will also host UCLA and Florida Atlantic to round out their non-league slate. The Bruins won, 66-3 in Austin in 1997 and also won at the Rose Bowl in 1998. UT last played FAU in 2008 and prevailed 52-10.

Just one week after facing UCLA, Texas will face Oklahoma in Dallas, a game that once again, could figure heavily in the Big 12 South race. UT will also host a much-improved Iowa State team, Baylor, Oklahoma State, FAU and will finish the year with in-state rival Texas A&M. The Longhorns figure to take care of business against the Bears and Cowboys but the A&M game is always interesting no matter where it's played. Trips to face Tech and Nebraska plus the usual South games against Oklahoma and Texas A&M plus an interesting non-league clash with UCLA make UT's 2010 slate ripe with potential or full of possible problem spots depending on how it's viewed.

TEXAS A&M

Other than an October 9 date with Arkansas at Cowboys Stadium, A&M's non-conference schedule is very soft. Stephen F. Austin is a FCS school. Week two opponent Louisiana Tech was just 4-8 in 2009 while week three foe Florida International was just 3-9. Last year's date with the Razorbacks ended in a 47-19 loss for the Aggies but both teams figure to be greatly improved, which will hopefully result in a better game and a possible A&M victory.

In league play, A&M travels to face Oklahoma State, Kansas, Baylor and Texas. The Aggies have fared well in Stillwater as a Big 12 member, going 5-2. KU is in full rebuilding mode. The Bears did win 41-21 in Waco back in 2008 but A&M should fare better at Floyd Casey Stadium this time around. And the Texas game is always close. However, the Ags will host Missouri, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Nebraska at Kyle Field this fall. A&M is 2-1 against MU in College Station and 1-2 against the Cornhuskers. A&M is 4-3 on their home field against both Tech and OU in Big 12 play, meaning those two could go either way.

TEXAS TECH

Tech will open their 2010 slate with SMU, who finished 8-5 last year and ended a bowl draught that extended back to the Reagan administration. The Mustangs are much improved under June Jones but the Red Raiders haven't lost to them since 1986, when they were both in the Southwest Conference. The schools last met in 2008 with Tech prevailing 43-7. One week later, they travel to New Mexico, a team they beat 48-28 in 2009 as the Lobos finished 1-11. In late November, Tech hosts FCS school Weber State and Houston in consecutive weeks. The Cougars won 29-28 last year at Robertson Stadium.

As far as league play, Tech gets things going on Sept. 18 when Texas comes to town. The Red Raiders have lost three straight to UT at Jones Stadium, their last win coming in 2002, when Tech upset the third-ranked Longhorns 42-38. The Red Raiders will also host Baylor, Oklahoma State and Missouri. They have never lost to Baylor as a member of the Big 12. OSU has never won in Lubbock under current head coach Mike Gundy. All-time, Tech is just 1-5 against MU but their only win in the series came in Lubbock back in 2002, 52-38. The Red Raiders travel to Iowa State, Colorado, Texas A&M and Oklahoma. A win in Ames, where Tech is 2-1, is a possibility as is prevailing in College Station, where they have won three of their last four meetings. However, winning at OU, where they are 1-6 and in Boulder, where they are 0-3, both appear to be tall orders.

RANKING THE STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE (2009 Bowl teams in parentheses)

1) Texas (8): Non-league game with UCLA could be intriguing but rest of non-league slate is soft. ‘Horns must travel to Lubbock, Lincoln and Manhattan plus UT also has fixture game in Dallas with OU.

2) Oklahoma (9): Sooners have nine bowl teams on schedule, including three non-conference foes. Facing Texas in Dallas presents usual challenge but OU's other toughest road game is a trip to Missouri.

3) Texas Tech (8): Season opener with SMU could be nice test and Tech also faces Houston to end the regular season. Red Raiders host Texas, OSU and Missouri. They travel to Iowa State, OU, Colorado and Texas A&M.

4) Texas A&M (7): Facing Arkansas at neutral site will be a good test. Aggies host Tech, OU and Nebraska while biggest road test figures to be season finale at in-state rival Texas.

5) Baylor (7): Trip to TCU will be tough game for Bears but UT, A&M and OU all visit Waco this fall. Road trips are to Colorado, Kansas State and Oklahoma State plus game in Dallas with Texas Tech.

6) Okla. State (7): Toughest non-league game is with Troy. OSU hosts A&M, Nebraska, UT and OU. Hardest road games are at Tech and K-State.

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