The Big 12 and SEC have four regular-season matchups this season, and two are this weekend when Tennessee visits Oklahoma and Arkansas goes to Texas Tech. Next week, Auburn travels to Kansas State. The conferences were almost evenly matched for the first decade or so of the Big 12’s existence, but the SEC has dominated since then.
The Big 12 attempts to put its best foot forward this week when its college football teams take on seven opponents from the four other power conferences. The league hopes to avoid the same fate as the Big Ten, which lost its high profile games last weekend.
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Some encouraging results like the narrow losses by Oklahoma State and West Virginia against the nation’s top two ranked teams, Florida State and Alabama, provided an upbeat opening weekend in the Big 12. The cold water came Monday with injury reports. Texas lost center Dom Espinosa for the season and quarterback David Ash for at least this week’s game against Brigham Young. Iowa State lost its top wide receiver, Quenton Bundrage, for the season.
Iowa State, which dropped their opener last year to a lower-level team and went on to a 3-9 season, takes on three-time defending Football Championship Subdivision champion North Dakota State on opening week in the Big 12. In the SEC, four teams play Thursday night.
Kansas State plays host to its biggest nonconference college football game in years Thursday when the No. 5 Auburn Tigers take on the No. 20 Wildcats. Kickoff is 6:30 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN.
Kansas State heavily recruited Nick Marshall, Auburn’s quarterback from Garden City Community College. The Wildcats and Tigers face off Thursday night in Manhattan, Kan. Kickoff is at 6:30 p.m. and the game will air on ESPN.
One KU football fan upset with the Jayhawks’ 41-3 loss to Duke last week — and the state of the program under coach Charlie Weis the last few seasons — got an email response from athletic director Sheahon Zenger: “Please know that we are fully aware of your frustration and we are watching this situation closely,” Zenger said.
Central Michigan will likely be without one of its top players for its road game at Kansas on Saturday. Star running back Thomas Rawls, a former transfer from Michigan, has been suspended for a violation of team rules, Central Michigan announced this week.
Morgan Burns has been at Kansas State long enough to know when a big game is next on the schedule. He can tell by the number of students who wish him luck between classes and the amount of fans that approach him in town. But it happens most when No. 20 K-State is about to face No. 5 Auburn. Based on fan response, Burns is expecting a special crowd.