Time to start analyzing each team's schedule across the Big 12. First up, those Red Raiders out in Lubbock.
Nonconference (with 2011 records):
Sept. 1: Northwestern State (5-6)
Sept. 8: at Texas State (6-6)
Sept. 15: New Mexico (1-11)
Home Big 12 games:
Oct. 6: Oklahoma (10-3)
Oct. 13: West Virginia (10-3)
Nov. 3: Texas (8-5)
Nov. 10: Kansas (2-10)
Nov. 24: Baylor (10-3) at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas
Away Big 12 games:
Sept. 29: at Iowa State (6-7)
Oct. 20: at TCU (11-2)
Oct. 29: at Kansas State (10-3)
Nov. 17: at Oklahoma State (12-1)
Chance to impress: Oklahoma. The Sooners are coincidentally the last team Texas Tech beat in 2011 before losing its final five games, including four losses by at least 24 points. The Red Raiders get to host Oklahoma, which they embarrassed in 2009, the last time the Sooners traveled to Lubbock. Tech is 2-1 in its last three games versus the Sooners, and an early-season win would go a long way in convincing just about everyone that the Red Raiders are bowl bound.
Gut-check game: at Iowa State. Can you even call this a trap game? Iowa State knocked off Texas Tech in each of the past two seasons, including a 41-7 laugher in Lubbock that signaled the beginning of the end in 2011. Iowa State will be mostly the same team, and if Tech can't go to Ames and get a win, the Red Raiders will be dismissed early on, and Tommy Tuberville's seat will get very, very warm.
Snoozer: Take your pick. To each his own, Texas Tech, but you should be ashamed. In a league full of cupcake schedules, the Red Raiders are the worst offenders. New Mexico is a mess. Texas State is in its first year in the WAC after being independent in 2011 and Northwestern State is an FCS team. Pitiful. No, I don't care that Tech is playing at Texas State.
Day of reckoning: at TCU. Texas Tech hasn't played a nonconference game against a major-conference opponent since 2003, but TCU in 2011 would have been a tough matchup. Last January, though, Texas Tech squirmed out of the game and played Texas State, New Mexico and Nevada instead. Expect the Horned Frogs' fans to remind Texas Tech of that game, and plenty others from the old Southwest Conference in this rivalry renewal.
Final analysis: Texas Tech has a well-placed 4-4-1 conference schedule, featuring four home games, four away games and one game at a neutral site. With a nine-game conference schedule, neutral-site games are a nice move to help balance out the schedule and not have to play five road games in conference in a given season. It's the same format Texas Tech had last year, and it's a pretty balanced schedule. It's tough to simply look at the win-loss records of each team and figure out much. Every team in the Big 12's schedule is going to look loaded based on 2011 results, because the league has three conference champions and six 10-win teams suiting up in 2012. Outside of its awful nonconference schedule, Texas Tech will be pretty balanced. Expect the Red Raiders to make a bowl game, but if the ball bounces the other way in a few games, they could easily slip to 5-7 again.