Predicting the First Loss for Every College Football Team in 2012

Joe PenkalaCorrespondent IApril 6, 2012

Predicting the First Loss for Every College Football Team in 2012

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    Now that every team has their official schedule, players, coaches, fans and media will begin to analyze the schedule and see what may happen this year for every program.

    As people start to review team's schedules, there are games certain teams automatically believe they can win. On the other hand, as they go down the schedule, they finally reach a game with some level of doubt.  

    Here is a look at the every team in the FBS division, conference by conference, and the first game they will drop in the 2012 season. 

Conference USA

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    UTEP: vs. Oklahoma

    East Carolina: at South Carolina

    Marshall: at West Virginia 

    Memphis: at Arkansas State

    Southern Miss: at Nebraska

    UAB: at South Carolina

    UCF: at Ohio State

    Houston: at UCLA

    Rice: vs. UCLA

    SMU: vs. Texas A&M

    Tulane: vs. Rutgers

    Tulsa: at Iowa State

Mountain West Conference

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    Wyoming: at Texas

    Air Force: at Michigan

    Boise State: at Michigan State

    Colorado State: vs. Utah State

    Fresno State: at Oregon

    Hawaii: at USC

    Nevada: at Cal

    New Mexico: at Texas

    San Diego State: at Washington

    UNLV: vs. Washington State

Sun Belt Conference

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    Western Kentucky: at Alabama

    Arkansas State: at Oregon

    Florida Atlantic: at Georgia

    FIU: at UCF

    ULL: at Oklahoma State

    ULM: vs Arkansas

    Troy: at UAB

    South Alabama: at NC State

    North Texas: at LSU

    Middle Tennessee: at Memphis


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    UTSA: at South Alabama

    Idaho: at LSU

    Louisiana Tech: at Virginia

    New Mexico State: at Auburn

    San Jose State: at Stanford

    Texas State: at Houston

    Utah State: vs. Utah


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    BYU: at Utah

    Navy: vs. Notre Dame

    Army: at Wake Forest

Notre Dame: At Michigan State

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    Last year, the Irish took care of business against Michigan State, but the game was at home. Behind the strength of their defense, the Spartans should be able to contain the Irish offense and deliver Notre Dame's first loss. 

Boston College: Against Miami

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    Boston College kicks off the year with conference play, and it looks like they will be starting the year with a loss. Last year, the Eagles appeared to be lost at times; and while Miami has some struggles of its own, they should take care of this early conference game. 

Clemson: At Florida State

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    Last year was a magical season for Clemson, or at least the first two thirds of it was. Clemson came out of the gates swinging and earned some huge victories early in the year. 

    This year, the Tigers will be challenged early again, but a road game against Florida State will prove to be too much—especially after having Auburn in their opener.

Duke: Against FIU

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    After a three win season last year, Duke is a team that struggles in most games that they are set up in. This year, they kick start the year against FIU, a team with more depth and talent that should take care of the Blue Devils without much issue. 

Florida State: At Virginia Tech

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    For the past few seasons, Florida State has not been living up to the hype. This season, the Seminoles appear to be loaded and ready for another great season, and expect them to be undefeated late in the year until a road game against Virginia Tech knocks them off their title path. 

Georgia Tech: At Virginia Tech

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    Georgia Tech won a lottery not many teams wanted to win. They open the season on a Monday night in Blacksburg against Virginia Tech. After a long offseason, the fans will be hungry for action and this will be the loudest the fans may be all season long. 

Maryland: At Temple

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    In the second game of the year, Maryland heads on the road to take on the newest member of the Big East, Temple. Temple had a great 2011 and will be looking to pick up where they left off. With a stingy defense, the Owls should have no issue taking care of Maryland. 

Miami: At Kansas State

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    Miami starts the year with back-to-back road games, and while they should win against Boston College, Kansas State is ready to show the nation that last year was not a fluke. Look for the Kansas State offense to roll and win this game. 

North Carolina: At Wake Forest

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    North Carolina opens up the year playing Elon, but things quickly pick up as they head on the road to take on Wake Forest the following week. Last year, the Demon Deacons showed the ability to get out of the gates quickly, and will do so again this year, giving North Carolina their first loss. 

NC State: Against Tennessee

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    The year gets off to a quick start as NC State heads on the road to Georgia to take on Tennessee. With the defense the Vols have, and a healthy Tyler Bray, the Vols should hand the Wolfpack their first loss of the season.

Virginia: At TCU

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    The opening schedule is pretty tough for Virginia. After a great 2011 season, the Cavaliers open with Richmond, Penn State, at Georgia Tech and at TCU. The road is tough and by the time they head to TCU, this team will be out of gas and out of luck. 

Virginia Tech: At Clemson

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    Clemson was extremely tough to outscore last year, and no team struggled more against the Tigers than Virginia Tech. After losing to Clemson twice last year, the Hokies hit the road to take on the Tigers and will leave with another loss. 

Wake Forest: At Florida State

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    Jim Grobe is doing a great job at Wake Forest, but Florida State will be too much. Combined with this being a road game, look for the Seminoles depth to be a huge factor in Wake Forest's first loss. 

Illinois: At Arizona State

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    Last year, the first half of the season was a dream for the Illini, but the second half was a nightmare. It appears this year may get off to a different start; Illinois goes on the road to play Arizona State. The Sun Devils did lose some players on offense and defense, but the running game will help them earn a home win. 

Indiana: At UMass

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    Indiana was so bad last year that I am going to say that they give UMass their first win as a part of the FBS division. On both offense and defense, the Hoosiers have deficiencies that will lead to another extremely long season. 

Iowa: At Michigan State

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    For the past couple of years, Iowa has been flying under the radar as Ohio State, Michigan State and Wisconsin have battled at the top of the Big 10. After playing Michigan State twice at home over the past two years, the Hawkeyes finally have to travel to East Lansing, and will have their first loss of the year handed to them, as they fail to answer the challenge laid out by the Spartans defense. 

Michigan: Against Alabama

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    After a great 2011 season, Michigan fans will get a reality check when they head to Dallas to start the season. This year, Michigan plays Alabama in a huge non-conference game, and the defending champs will likely show the Wolverines that they still have a ways to go. 

Michigan State: At Wisconsin

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    Despite losing some talent off of both sides of the ball, Mark Dantonio has done a great job of building up the Spartans depth. Look for that depth to make a difference in the first half of the year, but for the Spartans to ultimately lose their first game at Camp Randall against Wisconsin. 

Minnesota: At UNLV

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    Last year, Minnesota was dreadful, and the team has not improved much in the offseason. To start the year, the Gophers head on the road and will likely earn their first of many losses in 2012. 

Nebraska: At Ohio State

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    In their second season in the Big 10, Nebraska should be better prepared for the challenges they will face in conference. One big test they will face is a road game in Columbus against a team led by Urban Meyer—and one that will be motivated to treat games like this as their bowl game since they are banned from postseason play in 2012. 

Northwestern: Against Vanderbilt

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    Last year saw the bowl losing streak continue, and Northwestern will need a solid effort to get back to college football's post season this year. Early on, they take on a strong Vanderbilt team that truly turned some heads. Without Dan Persa this year, the Wildcats will see this home game end poorly for them this year. 

Ohio State: At Michigan State

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    Behind a strong defensive performance, the Spartans pulled off a huge road win when they took down the Buckeyes at home last year. This year, the Buckeyes have some improving to do, and the Spartans still have a strong enough offense to defeat Ohio State for the second consecutive year. 

Penn State: Against Virginia

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    Mike London and Virginia have done an excellent job of getting things turned around. For Penn State, this is bad news since the Cavaliers travel up to Happy Valley in the second week of the season. Unless the Nittany Lions offense improves, the Cavaliers will leave the fans at Happy Valley not so happy at games end.

Purdue: At Notre Dame

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    Like every season, Notre Dame has a solid depth chart full of players that would give anyone issues. This year the Boilermakers head to South Bend for an early season game, and if the Irish are playing to their potential, unlike the start of last season, then Purdue will be severely outmatched and leave with a loss. 

Wisconsin: At Nebraska

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    Despite the return of Montee Ball to the lineup, the Badgers are still losing Russell Wilson; with an early road game against Nebraska, the loss will hurt them. If Ball can carry the load, he may keep Wisconsin in this, but during Nebraska's second year in the Big 10, look for them to close this out with their defense. 

Arizona: Against South Carolina

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    Last year got off to a rough start for Arizona as they faced Top 25 team after Top 25 team. This year, the Wildcats faceoff against Toledo, Oklahoma State and South Carolina to start the season, and once they go up against the Gamecocks, the Wildcats will not have much left—at least they'll be off to a better start than 2011.  

Arizona State: At Missouri

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    With a new head coach and the loss of some key players on both sides of the ball, Arizona State may be in for a bit of a rebuilding year. Luckily for the Sun Devils, their out of conference schedule isn't too taxing, but a road date with Missouri will cost them their first loss. 

Cal: At Ohio State

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    During the out of conference schedule, Cal has to make the trip east and will take on Ohio State in Columbus. Cal has not had much success when going out east, and this trip to play the Buckeyes will not be any different. 

Colorado: Against Colorado State

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    Last year was tough for the Buffaloes as they had a bad year all around. This year, they kick start the year against Colorado State, and the season will start off with a familiar feeling of a loss. 

Oregon: At USC

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    This year, Oregon is replacing both LaMichael James and Darron Thomas. No matter who wins the starting quarterback job, the lack of road experience could cost the Ducks as they enter the USC game undefeated. 

Oregon State: Against Wisconsin

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    In 2011, the Beavers traveled out to Wisconsin and got beat up and down the field. This year, the Badgers head out west, and while the game may not be as big of a blowout as last year was, Montee Ball will have his way and lead Wisconsin to a road win. 

Stanford: Against USC

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    The schedule does not take long to pick up for the Cardinal. In their third game of the season, Stanford goes head to head with USC. And with the amount of offensive talent on the Trojans roster and lack of Andrew Luck for the Cardinal, Stanford will lose big, early on in the season.

UCLA: Against Nebraska

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    With a new head coach, UCLA is hoping that they can start to get things turned around and be more competitive in the Pac-12. Before the Bruins can even get to conference play, they go up against the Huskers at home in a game that will end poorly for the home team. 

USC: Pac-12 Title Game (Oregon)

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    After winning at home against Oregon, it would appear that USC would have the inside track to play at home in the Pac-12 title game. With Oregon likely winning the North Division, these two teams would match up again, and with a second crack at the Trojans, Chip Kelly makes good on a fourth straight conference title. 

Utah: Against USC

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    After taking their lumps in conference play early last year, the Utes got things figured out and ultimately had a shot at winning the South Division. This year, Utah should continue to build on the late success they had last year, but an early season game with USC will not end well for them. 

Washington: At LSU

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    As Washington continues to look to turn the corner and be a conference competitor once again, they face an early season nightmare, when they head out to LSU in the second week of the season. Washington is in over their heads in this game as they have neither the speed, depth or talent to stay in this game.

    LSU will win handily. 

Washington State: At BYU

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    Despite having new coach Mike Leach on board, the start of the 2012 season will get off to a rough start for Washington State. To kickoff the year, the Cougars take on a much deeper and more talented BYU team that will use their home-field to their advantage.

Cincinnati: Against Virginia Tech

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    With the losses that the Big East suffered this year, it is wide open to any of the remaining teams to win. Cincinnati has as good of a shot as anyone, but an early season game against Virginia Tech will provide them with their first loss of the season. 

Connecticut: Against NC State

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    After playing UMass in the first week of the season, Connecticut goes up against Mike Glennon and NC State. With a weak defense, and the ability for Glennon to put up good numbers, look for the Huskies to lose in just their second game of the season. 

Louisville: Against Temple

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    Louisville earned a share of the conference crown last year, and did so with a freshman quarterback. This year, the Cardinals look good for a repeat, but a surprise could be waiting late in the year when they play Temple.

    Temple has done a great job getting tough on defense and could provide some serious challenges that will result in the Cardinals first loss. 

Pittsburgh: At Cincinnati

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    Pittsburgh jumps into conference play only two weeks into the season and they will have been wishing that they hadn't. In the second week of the season, the Panthers play Cincinnati on the road. Last year, the Panthers lost to the Bearcats and you can expect the same this season. 

Rutgers: At Arkansas

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    While Rutgers may have a shot of competing in the Big East, going on the road to Arkansas is a game that they have no shot in. With the offensive firepower of the Razorbacks, Arkansas will pull ahead early and often. 

South Florida: Against Florida State

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    South Florida is a team that stands the most to gain with all of the changes in the Big East. If they come out and play like they did at the start of 2011, than this team should win the conference. But if the second-half team shows up, than they are in trouble. Either way, a game against the Seminoles will not be a game they will win. 

Syracuse: Against USC

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    Syracuse is in for another average season, and it will begin early as they take on USC in the second week of the season. With Matt Barkley leading the way, the Trojans will put this game away in the first half. 

Temple: Against USF

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    After pulling out some good wins to start the season, Temple plays their first conference game in the Big East against USF. With the offensive talent that the Bulls have, they should give the Temple defense a run for their money and ultimately cost them their first conference game. 

Alabama: At LSU

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    The Alabama vs. LSU game has already been scheduled in as a night game, and Death Valley will be as intimidating as ever. The Tigers have plenty of motivation to get up for this game and will be desperate to avenge the national title game loss from last year.

Arkansas: Against Alabama

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    After last years loss to the Tide, the Razorbacks have been placing an extra emphasis on this game coming into this season. Overall, I believe that the build up and hype will be too much, and the Hogs will come up empty again this year. 

Auburn: Against Clemson

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    Things look like they will get off to a rocky start in 2012 for the Tigers. Last year they escaped an opening week loss to Utah State, but this year they will not be as fortunate when they go up against Clemson.

    Between Sammy Watkins and Tajh Boyd, Auburn will run out of answers and drop their season opener. 

Florida: At Texas A&M

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    Since Tim Tebow left the Florida Gators, they have been stuck in the middle of the SEC pack and unable to elevate back to the top. With the addition of the Aggies to the SEC, Florida will see first hand that they now have another solid team to deal with.

Georgia: At South Carolina

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    Georgia had a tremendous run in 2012 and gave LSU a run for their money in the SEC title game. This year, the Bulldogs young talent is back, but while they may lose at South Carolina this year, the Bulldogs should repeat as division champs and go back to the SEC title game.

Kentucky: At Louisville

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    Another SEC team to get off to a rough start will be Kentucky. In the opening week, they play host to defending Big East champion. With Teddy Bridgewater at quarterback, the Cardinals should have their way against the Wildcats.

LSU: At Arkansas

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    After earning a big win against Alabama at home, LSU will be on top of the national polls. With only one game before the SEC title game, the Tigers will go on the road to play Arkansas. And with the offensive firepower that the Razorbacks have, LSU will be handed their first loss in the last game of the season. 

Mississippi State: Against Auburn

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    Dan Mullen has done a good job for the Bulldogs, but has yet to get them over the hump. In the second week of the season, the Bulldogs are going up against Auburn. If Mullen wants to make a statement, this would be the game, but look for Mississippi State to come up short. 

Missouri: Against Georgia

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    Early on in the 2012 season, Missouri may start to regret their choice of moving to the SEC. In the second week of the season, the Tigers will go up against last years division winner Georgia, and will truly see how good the SEC is. The Bulldogs are better on both sides of the ball and should win this early conference game.

Ole Miss: Against Texas

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    Ole Miss has been in a rut for a while now. While they may get off to a 2-0 start in 2012, the Rebels are still in for a long year, and it will begin against Texas. While they do get the Longhorns at home, the Rebels will struggle to keep this game close.  

South Carolina: At LSU

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    Even with Marcus Lattimore back in the fold, a game on the road against LSU is an uphill battle for the Gamecocks. South Carolina should be able to keep this game close throughout, but, ultimately, Death Valley will be the difference in this SEC game. 

Tennessee: At Georgia

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    Tyler Bray is back and should be healthy coming into the 2012 season. When Bray was healthy, the Vols looked like a strong team. Despite how good they can be, Georgia is even better and should be able to defend their division crown and head back to the SEC title game. 

Texas A&M: Against Arkansas

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    Texas A&M is in their first year in the SEC and may realize how difficult it will be in their new conference. When going up against Tyler Wilson and the Hogs offense, the Aggies defense will struggle and earn their first conference loss. 

Vanderbilt: Against South Carolina

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    Despite how much Vanderbilt has improved under James Franklin, the team is still not quite there. In the opening game of the season, they have to take on a much stronger South Carolina team that has too strong of an offense for them to keep up. 

Baylor: Against SMU

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    Baylor is going towards a reality check right out of the gates. In the first week of the season, the Bears will take on an underrated SMU team that appears ready to compete for the Conference USA title. Without Robert Griffin III, this will be a rough start to the 2012 season. 

Iowa State: At Iowa

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    Another Big 12 team to face trouble in the second week of the season will be Iowa State. After what could be a surprisingly difficult opener against Tulsa, the Cyclones have to head on the road to take on in-state rival Iowa. With a strong defensive performance, the Hawkeyes should take this game.

Kansas: Vs Rice

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    With or without Charlie Weis, Kansas is one of the worst teams in America. In their second game of the week, they draw Rice—who should take care of them and deliver them their first loss. 

Kansas State: At Oklahoma

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    While Kansas State is certainly on the rise, a road game against Oklahoma early on in the season is not good news for the Wildcats. The Sooners defense should be able to slow down the Kansas State offense and win this big conference matchup. 

Oklahoma: At West Virginia

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    With Landry Jones coming back for his senior season, the Sooners are left in good hands for the upcoming 2012 season. Despite the amount of talent on this team, the cross country trip to play West Virginia will prove to be too much as the Mountaineers outscore them and hand them their first loss. 

Oklahoma State: At Arizona

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    Last season, a loss took the Cowboys a while to earn, but the elements that made that offense explosive are no longer their. In the second week of the season, they head on the road to play a Arizona team that will be hungry to return the favor for last year's loss. 

TCU: At West Virginia

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    TCU is taking the plunge into a BCS conference, and based on the talent and depth on their team, they shouldn't have much of an issue in staying competitive. The downside for them is they will be traveling out to West Virginia (a new addition to the conference), and going up against an offense that is too explosive for them to stop.

Texas: Against West Virginia

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    Texas is slowly starting to find their way back to form, but still are not quite back. The Mountaineers visit Austin this year, but the Longhorns' offense will be unable to match the Mountaineers offense, ultimately giving them their first loss on the season. 

Texas Tech: Against Oklahoma

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    Last year, the Red Raiders came into Norman and shocked a lot of people when they took down the Sooners. This year, the Sooners head on the road to play Texas Tech, and you better believe that they are looking to exact some revenge for last year's game.

West Virginia: At Texas Tech

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    In their first year in the Big 12, the schedule appears to be lining up very nicely for the Mountaineers. While they certainly have the potential and talent to run the table, look for the Red Raiders to turn some heads for the second straight year and upset the Mountaineers.