What would your fall look like if you had no restrictions on how you spent your Saturday? Every Big 12 game is an option to attend in person as you strive to see the best game, find the best gameday atmosphere and tailgating, or simply follow your favorite team or player on a weekly basis.
That is the premise of our annual Big 12 Ultimate Road Trip as Jake Trotter, Max Olson and Brandon Chatmon pick one game per week to attend.
We kick off the series with Week 1.
Jake Trotter’s pick: Notre Dame at Texas
It’s a terrific Week 1 slate for the Big 12, with Kansas State traveling to Stanford, Oklahoma taking on Houston and West Virginia hosting Missouri.
But I’m going with Texas-Notre Dame here in what could be the biggest game of the Charlie Strong era in Austin. This also figures to be the debut of intriguing true freshman Shane Buechele, who appears to have an edge in the Texas QB competition after a sterling spring-game performance. Could this be the start of a new era at Texas?
If the Longhorns can pull the upset, it’ll change the outlook for the entire season.
However, given the immediate schedule (Cal, TCU, OU), Texas’ season could be on the brink right out of the gate, especially if it goes down the way it did in South Bend last year.
Max Olson’s pick: Oklahoma vs. Houston
I'm conflicted about this one because I'd really love to take a trip out to Stanford, and no Big 12 team is scheduled to play there again until TCU in 2024. Can I wait that long? I guess I'll have to, because Oklahoma-Houston is going to be tremendous football. Tom Herman and his staff will prepare the Coogs for this game as if it's their Super Bowl. Their win over Florida State was a testament to their talent level. These teams are going to trade some serious punches, and I can't wait to see how it turns out.
Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Notre Dame at Texas
A trip to the Bay Area is intriguing, and Oklahoma invading Houston looks like one of the best nonconference matchups of the entire season.
Yet I just can’t say no to the chance to see Notre Dame visit Texas. Two of college football’s most storied programs going head to head doesn’t happen often enough in nonconference play.
It’s the chance for Strong’s team to make an early statement with a win over the Irish but that’s unlikely to happen without a much-improved offensive attack. Coordinator Sterlin Gilbert will be debuting his version of the Longhorns' offense, which could give Texas a slight advantage during preparations for this contest if Gilbert can find a quarterback — Buechele or otherwise — to run it with efficiency.
I like the talent on Texas’ roster, and I have a feeling the Longhorns still remember the season-opening shellacking the Irish handed out a year ago. It should be a good, competitive contest.