MORGANTOWN – While most of the Big 12 is getting the FCS portion of the schedule out of the way in Week 1, West Virginia, Texas and Texas Tech are facing Power Five schools, while Oklahoma welcomes Florida Atlantic to Norman.
Oklahoma State faced Missouri State on Thursday night.
Here is a look at the Week 1 matchups in the conference:
Texas vs. Maryland in Landover, Md., noon (FS1)
The Terps gashed the Longhorns defense on national TV to open the season last year, running for 263 yards and four touchdowns in Austin.
The game may have more implications on both coaching staffs with pressure already mounting on Texas’ Tom Herman and Maryland’s DJ Durkin on administrative leave, leaving Matt Canada in charge.
Texas’ defense showed vast improvements after last season’s game with the Terps and the Longhorns hope it carries over into this one.
Texas Tech vs. Ole Miss, Houston (ESPN)
With a self-imposed bowl ban, the Rebels will be playing with nothing to lose, which could lead to big points and risky turnovers.
Similarly, that’s the same way Kliff Kingsbury likes to run his offenses with the Red Raiders. Though we still don’t know who’s starting at quarterback — either junior McLane Carter and sophomore Jett Duffey — it doesn’t seem to matter, Texas Tech puts points up in bunches.
With many defensive battles happening Week 1 across college football, this certainly will not be one of them.
Florida Atlantic at Oklahoma, noon (FOX)
Lane Kiffin vs. Lincoln Riley should be enough to sell this game. While is doesn’t have the brand appeal that many are looking for, both coaches have made a name for themselves at their new schools last season.
Kiffin, one of the most controversial coaches the last decade, took the Owls from a 3-win team in 2016 to a 10-win team last season. Many Power Five transfers will now be eligible, including former WVU receiver Jovon Durante, who caught a touchdown at Oklahoma in 2015 for the Mountaineers.
For the Sooners, after a Rose Bowl loss to Georgia in the semifinals, they’ll need to replace Heisman winner Baker Mayfield with Kyler Murray. It will be the first chance to see if O.U. is still a national title contender.
Southern at TCU, noon
Let’s call this like it is: A warm-up game for the Horned Frogs before facing SMU in Week 2 and a showdown with Ohio State in Week 3.
They’ll also be breaking in new quarterback Shawn Robinson, replacing Kenny Hill, as well as many key players offensively, but should be full steam ahead against the Jaguars.
TCU’s defense, on the other hand, is locked and loaded for another stellar year under head coach Gary Patterson, so it could be a long day for the Southern offensive line.
South Dakota at Kansas State, 8 p.m.
This will be a good week for head coach Bill Snyder to figure out which quarterback has pulled ahead.
Alex Delton or Skylar Thompson competed all spring and summer but Snyder still isn’t ready to say which will start but he did say both will play.
The Coyotes were an FCS playoff team last year and also beat FBS opponent Bowling Green, but the Wildcats are a different breed and should roll in this one if all goes as planned.
Abilene Christian at Baylor, 8 p.m.
After losing to FCS Liberty last season and winning just one game in Matt Rhule’s first season in Waco, the Bears will certainly not glance over Abilene Christian.
The Wildcats won just two games last season at the FCS level, but sophomore quarterback Luke Anthony returns after have a solid end of 2017, throwing for 776 yards and 11 touchdowns in the team’s four games.
Similar to Kansas State, Baylor will likely play two quarterbacks — Jalan McClendon and Charlie Brewer. The strength for the Bears will be their skill players, Denzel Mims, Chris Platt and Tennessee transfer Jalen Hurd.
Nicholls State at Kansas, 7 p.m.
Peyton Bender was named the starter for the Jayhawks, but head coach David Beatty was quick to say the competition will bleed into Saturday’s game with Nicholls State.
Kansas has obviously struggled over the last decade in Big 12 play, but is usually good for a season-opening win against an FCS program.
The Colonels are no slouch, though, especially in the FCS ranks. They could compete with Sam Houston State for a Southland Conference championship.
South Dakota State at Iowa State, 8 p.m.
Likely the best matchup between FCS and Big 12 schools this week.
The Jackrabbits won 11 games last season and made a deep run in the FCS playoffs and return a vast majority of their team. They were No. 3 in the FCS preseason poll and have the firepower to ruin Iowa State’s highest expectations in years.
The Cyclones return starting quarterback Kyle Kempt and one of the most underrated players in the Big 12, running back David Montgomery.
If there was one game to keep an eye on on the Big 12 slate, this could be it.