This is as much about match-ups, home fields, and even where certain games fall, than a power ranking of Big 12 teams (though that's there, too). So contending that Team X is more talented than Team Y isn't necessarily the point. Unless that is the point.
Let's get to it.
The Nemesis Division
This is a one team division and indisputably our toughest game. I accept no debate on this. Not only because OU is expected to field a good team (Phil Steele has now predicted the Sooners to play in 11 consecutive national title games!!! EXTRA VERY SPECIAL GUARANTEE!), but because of Mack Brown's unique preparation & psychological "issues" in this rivalry. If Mack goes to 5-9 against Stoops in Dallas, it reads more as an indictment than a legacy. Thankfully, last year means very little in predicting this year's contest and we're bringing a big D to Big D. Will it play out like 2004 or 2009? I'll take the under, in any event.
You May Just OutCoach Us
3. West Virginia
I don't need to explain Purple Kryptonite. It's in Manhattan and Bill Snyder is Wicca. Can Quandre Diggs please rally the Ents to topple Sauramon? I'm confident we will have a better all around football team than Kansas State. I'm certain, in fact. I'm equally certain that it won't matter in predicting game outcome. We may rupture Collin Klein's spleen in the 2nd quarter and he'll still run for the game winning TD with :03 seconds left after they recover an onside kick.
We match up beautifully with West Virginia on paper and the Mountaineers are coming to Austin, but it is the week before OU, right after OSU, and Dana Holgorsen has the offensive skullet to find the holes in Manny Diaz's defense with deception, creativity, and several weeks of film to study our personnel against the spread. And Geno Smith is fully capable of just throwing the shit out of the football, which, given today's passing game rules, there really is no adequate defense. If WVU doesn't bring their A game, however, things will get real ugly for them, particularly if their front 7 can't limit the Texas running game. We could lose, but drilling the Mountaineers wouldn't surprise me a bit. High beta, IMO. I could understand if you them at #2 or #4.
You're Good But That Glaring Issue Heartens Me
We're traveling to Stillwater the week before battling WVU and then OU, their defense will be one of the top 3 units in the league (studs at LB, CB), and Gundy has created a sound infrastructure of athletes playing in a good system on both sides of the ball. They're also bringing a true freshman QB up against Manny Diaz and a Texas defense filled with future NFL talent. I reckon OSU can win a sloppy game.
TCU went from my surprise conference champion flirtation in February to a team that looks more like a 8 game winner by April. Something stinks in Ft Worth and it's not just the smell of chronic. Still, their defensive coaching will be top notch, Casey Pachall is a legitimate stud leading quality offensive skill personnel, and beating Texas in Austin could save their season. We get them after a two week rest after playing a forgiving schedule stretch. Not good for the Frogs.
You're All The Same, But Different
6. @Texas Tech
8. Iowa St
These three teams have more or less the same ability level once you factor in coaching and home field. And we play them all in succession. Texas Tech strikes me as the most likely to upset Texas as the Raiders focus their pooka shell-wearing co-eds on a West Texas jihad. A reasonable argument could made to switch the order in any way that pleases you (and I suspect that Baylor may be the most talented of the three), but I mildly fear Lubbock. These teams are maddening in that they're capable of upsetting the best teams in the conference, but also fully capable of dropping a game to Kansas.
I like where and how they fall in our schedule.
Jeremy Hills Gets Carries
9. @ Ole Miss
Wyoming is probably better than Ole Miss on a neutral field right now, but they're traveling to Austin. Ole Miss was truly bad last year and I'm not sure Oxford is all that scary, unless our QB has an on-field existential crisis. I expect to bumble to an ugly 27-13 type of win because it's our first road test, and presumably Mack Brown will insist on interacting with our team in pre-game so he can read random statistics off of an index card, and tell them about Hotty Toddy, and the reasons Ole Miss had to change their mascot. That virtually guarantees Ole Miss an early 10-0 lead.
Heath Hohmann Gets Carries
12. New Mexico
New Mexico's program is not a Land of Enchantment and we'll somehow overcome FUPA Charlie's "decided schematic advantage" in order to notch an easy road win in Lawrence.
I think we're headed for a 10-2 regular season if Lady Luck doesn't hook up with Mr ACL for a one night stand on offense. Where do I have it wrong? What games represent our greatest challenges? Why?