Texas Football: Previewing 5 Biggest Games on Longhorns' 2012 Schedule

Brett Gering@BrettGeringCorrespondent IMay 6, 2012

Texas Football: Previewing 5 Biggest Games on Longhorns' 2012 Schedule

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    The Texas Longhorns will attempt to rebound from a disappointing 8-5 campaign last season. 

    However, three familiar foes and two new faces will take the fight to the Longhorns with eyes targeting the Big 12 throne. 

    Although questions still circle the team, another year of quarterback experience—paired with a talented recruiting class—should assure more partying on 6th Street than 2011 saw. 

    One thing is certain: Texas will be battle-tested.

5. Sept. 29 at Oklahoma State

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    The renowned high-powered offense of Oklahoma State will receive a substantial makeover throughout the offseason.

    Stars Brandon Weeden, Justin Blackmon and Levy Adcock made the jump to the pros, but the Cowboys will likely crack the top 25 when the season begins.

    A three-player quarterback race will ensue between Clint Chelf and the freshman tandem of J.W. Walsh and West Lunt. 

    Although the Cowboys have a number of offensive voids to be filled, the team will return eight starters defensively. 

    All things considered, it wouldn't be surprising if Mack Brown's squad is favored by the time this conference opener kicks off on Sept. 29. 

4. Nov. 24 vs TCU

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    TCU, formerly of the Mountain West, will make its Big 12 debut this season.

    This is a battle that will be won in the trenches, with both clubs boasting vaunted rushing attacks. 

    Texas' backfield—consisting of Malcolm Brown, Joe Bergeron and Rivals' fifth-overall prospect Johnathan Gray—will be the key to the Longhorns' success. 

    However, TCU's ground game—headlined by Waymon James and Ed Wesley—will have something to say about it. 

    All eyes will be on Texas' defensive line, which Mack Brown hopes will be anchored by highly touted freshman Malcom Brown. 

    TCU's recent dominance has been impressive, but make no mistake, the Big 12 is a different animal than the Mountain West.

3. Oct. 6 vs West Virginia

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    West Virginia could easily win the conference title in its Big 12 premiere. 

    The Mountaineers ended last season with an exclamation mark as they crushed Clemson, 70-33, in the Discover Orange Bowl. 

    Senior Geno Smith, who threw for 4,385 yards in 2011, is a constant threat at quarterback.

    West Virginia's fearsome wide receiver duo of Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey will surely keep Texas' cornerbacks on their heels. The two combined for 173 receptions last year, while both eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark.

    Texas won't reign victorious if a shootout takes place. Instead, Mack Brown will undoubtedly attempt to slow the game down by handing off the ball and bulldozing up the field.  

    Due to lack of familiarity, this could be the Longhorns' biggest test of 2012. 

2. Dec. 1 at Kansas State

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    Following a failed Ron Prince experiment, Kansas State has returned to prominence under coaching icon Bill Snyder. 

    To no surprise, the 72-year-old's team is considered one of the league's favorites after finishing 10-2 a year ago. 

    Collin Klein, the Wildcats' hard-nosed quarterback, will attempt to build on an eye-opening junior campaign. Klein provided 40 total touchdowns, alongside 1,141 rushing yards. 

    However, he'll have a few new bodyguards as three spots on 2011's offensive line are now vacant. 

    This will undoubtedly be a bruising, grind-it-out matchup that will have players limping to ice baths.

    The front seven of both defenses will be assigned the task of halting its opposition's intimidating rushers. 

    As Klein goes, so goes Kansas State.

    If the Longhorns keep the Heisman hopeful at bay and the safeties aren't forced to cheat in run support, Texas will leave the Little Apple with heads held high. 

1. Oct. 13 at Oklahoma

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    The Red River Rivalry: where deep-seated hatred is perennially renewed and a state line serves as the Great Divide. 

    Oklahoma and Texas may be neighbors, but the two share more disdain for one another than Homer Simpson and Ned Flanders. 

    It's likely that the Sooners will attain the highest preseason ranking of their Big 12 brethren. 

    Quarterback Landry Jones opted to forgo the draft, thereby locking himself in as a favorite in the Heisman race. While Ryan Broyles—Oklahoma's record-shattering wide receiver—departed for the NFL, Kenny Stills and Jaz Reynolds should minimize any loss in production. 

    Although the Longhorns fell 55-17 last season, this year's squad appears to be more threatening than its 2011 counterpart. 

    If Texas hopes to claim a year's worth of bragging rights, the trio of Brown, Bergeron and Gray will have to produce numbers that jump off the charts.

    This game, as always, could have major BCS implications.

    On Oct. 13, Dallas' biggest stars won't reside in Cowboys Stadium.