Part 2 of 3 of the “Analyzing the Big 12′s Non-conference Schedules for 2013″ series. Tier two:
Now We’re Getting Somewhere Tier
4. Texas Tech — Kliff Kingsbury’s introduction as a head coach at a BCS conference school could be a rough one if the Texas Tech Red Raiders don’t bring their “A” game. The Red Raiders start the 2013 season on the road in Dallas against a June Jones coached SMU team that won seven games in 2013. The Mustangs return signal caller Garrett Gilbert, but lost leading receiver Darius Johnson and leading rusher Zach Line from 2012. Despite the Mustangs losing their best talent, this is still the typical trap game on a Thursday night to begin the season. The Red Raiders return to Lubbock to host Stephen F. Austin, an FCS team who won just five games in 2012. The Lumberjacks will be no match for Texas Tech in Lubbock. Then, the Red Raiders host Texas State for their final non-conference game. The Bobcats travel to Lubbock the week after Texas Tech hosts TCU on a Thursday night. Texas Tech should easily win this game but depending on how the TCU game goes, this could be a tougher test than many think.
5. West Virginia — The West Virginia Mountaineers start their season off in Morgantown against FCS William and Mary, a team who won only two games in 2012. Next, they host another FCS team in Georgia State a week after traveling to Norman and playing Oklahoma. Georgia State won just one game in 2012 and doesn’t look to be much better heading into the 2013 season. Thankfully, the Mountaineers gain a little respect back by playing an away game against Atlantic Coast Conference (and future Big Ten conference) member Maryland. Although the Terrapins had a down year in 2012 where they won just four games, they return leading passer Perry Hillis, rusher Brandon Ross and receiver Stefon Diggs (all of whom were Freshman last year). Maryland should be much improved this year and could challenge a West Virginia team who is depleted of most of their offensive talent due to the 2013 NFL draft.
6. Iowa State. The Iowa State Cyclones have a pretty decent array of non-conference opponents for the 2013 season. Their first though, FCS Northern Iowa, won only five games in 2012. This should be a tune up game for Iowa State before they host in state rival Iowa. The Hawkeyes are looking to bounce back from a four win season in 2012 and return leading rusher Mark Weisman and leading receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley. The Cy-Hawk series is always a heated one and I think this could be a very good game and could catapult the winner to a good season. Lastly, the Cyclones travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma to take on the Tulsa Golden Hurricane. Tulsa has been a very competitive team the last five to six years and they will compete to win the Conference USA in 2013. This could be a trap game for the Cyclones and they may have a tough time escaping Tulsa with the win.