A full slate of Big 12 games is on the horizon, but not before arguably the best nonconference matchup involving a Big 12 squad in 2014.
Last week we kicked off our Big 12's Ultimate Road Trip series, and the decisions seem to get harder as we journey deeper into the 2014 schedule.
To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.
We’ll be basing our choices on several factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.
Let's continue with Week 4.
Auburn at Kansas State
Oklahoma at West Virginia
Central Michigan at Kansas
The Big 12 collectively will play several big-time opponents during the nonconference schedule, and this might be the league’s best chance of landing a marquee victory.
Auburn is the reigning SEC champ and just narrowly lost to Florida State in the final national title game of the BCS era. With quarterback Nick Marshall back to run the show, the Tigers could be even more lethal in their second year operating Gus Malzahn's hurry-up, no-huddle offense.
K-State, however, could be lethal, too. Jake Waters continued his rapid development at quarterback through the spring, and Auburn will have its hands full dealing with his favorite target -- All-American candidate wideout Tyler Lockett. (The Tigers, by the way, were next to last in the SEC in pass defense last year.)
Bill Snyder Family Stadium will be rocking during this Thursday night showdown. In my ultimate road trip, I’d be in the Little Apple to see it.
Save me a seat alongside Mr. Trotter, because the Little Apple seems like the place to be.
OU’s trip to Morgantown to face West Virginia is intriguing, but watching Bill Snyder’s team try to shock the world against Auburn is too good to pass up.
Auburn will bring terrific speed and several playmakers to its toughest nonconference test, but the Wildcats will bring plenty of playmakers of their own, including Lockett, Waters and safety Dante Barnett. If the Wildcats can limit the Tigers’ big plays, K-State could pull off the upset. But it will be easier said than done with Snyder’s squad having to replace linebacker Blake Slaughter and safety Ty Zimmerman, who both finished in the top five in tackles on the team in 2013.
Slowing Marshall and Malzahn won’t be easy, but the Wildcats' overlooked defensive line, led by defensive end Ryan Mueller and defensive tackle Travis Britz, could make a name for itself in this contest.
And winning in Manhattan, Kansas, won’t be easy for the 2013 SEC champions, particularly on a Thursday night in what should be a hostile and rowdy environment at Bill Snyder Family Stadium.
Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs. Alabama (in Atlanta)
Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State
Week 3: Trotter -- Texas vs UCLA (in Arlington); Chatmon -- Tennessee at Oklahoma