All eyes are on the Texas - Notre Dame matchup, but underdogs such as Georgia Southern, Northern Iowa and Central Michigan have their eyes on season-defining upsets as they take on Big 12 foes in Week One of the 2015 college football season. Will any of them come through, and in the process give talking heads fodder for another round of Big 12 - bashing?
- The Big 12 opens the 2015 season with two of the top four nationally-ranked teams (Baylor and TCU) in preseason polls. Seventy percent of Conference squads are ranked or received votes.
- Two Big 12 teams (TCU and Oklahoma State), both open on Thursday, and both are on the road.
- The Big 12 has not had an undefeated Conference champion since beginning round-robin play in 2011. While that might speak to the league's toughness, it also is a potential ding when picks for the College Football Playoff are made. The perception could be that all the teams are something less than the elite nationally, thus a loss hurts more than if the league as a whole is viewed favorably.
- Four Big 12 coaches are the all-time winningest coaches at their respective institutions -- Bill Snyder (K-State), Bob Stoops (Oklahoma), Mike Gundy (Oklahoma State) and Gary Patterson (TCU).
- Could Baylor be underrated? The Bears return 17 starters, yet were picked second in the league, and aren't getting nearly as much mention for their football prowess as TCU this fall.
- K-State has little in the way of returning offense, but the last time the Wildcats began a season with a quarterback and a running back who had no career starts was 1995. The Wildcats went 10-2 and won the Holiday Bowl that year.
- Oklahoma State has a lot of buzz coming off last year's season ending rush, and Central Michigan doesn't figure to have enough firepower for a win, even though they get the Cowboys at home.
- Minnesota is a good team that is overlooked in the Big 10. But TCU has a lot to prove, even after routing Mississippi 42-3 in last year's Chick-Fil-A Bowl. The Frogs are the second consecutive road pick.
- Baylor leads the all-time series with SMU by a narrow 37-36-7 margin. (More ties in that one than a Brooks brothers store.) The Ponies aren't going to knot things up in this series, however.
- Admittedly, South Dakota State is not in our wheelhouse. But Kansas is simply decimated with departures and injuries, and State is a very good program. They get the nod in a visit to Lawrence.
- Texas Tech scored 80 the last time Sam Houston State came to town. That won't happen this time, but the Red Raiders will still score a convincing win.
- Kansas State is looking for offense, and while that might be a season-long search, the Wildcats will have enough to earn a Big 12 split with South Dakota schools on opening weekend.
- Is Oklahoma a Top 15 team? It will take more than rolling over outmatched Akron to decide, but the Sooners figure to get off to a good start in Week One.
- Texas has a chance to get the signature win of the Charlie Strong era when it faces Notre Dame, but the Irish have too many proven performers for the Longhorns to spring the upset -- especially in South Bend, where leprechauns sprinkle the field with mysterious flags benefitting the home team.
- Georgia Southern might be the best of the non-Power Five schools facing Big 12 teams on Saturday. West Virginia will avoid the upset, but it will be closer than many expect.
- Iowa State looks to avenge a loss to Northern Iowa from two years ago. The excitement of a remodeled stadium helps propel the Cyclones to a narrow, emotion-filled victory.