Five must-watch Big 12 out-of-conference games

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Some teams like to pile on the cupcakes for their out-of-conference schedule. It doesn’t really do much for the fans, but when you’re a team not at OU or USC status, you need as many winnable games as possible to earn bowl eligibility.

Oklahoma has done a great job of scheduling tough games outside of Big 12 play, and they’ll continue to do so throughout the decade. So what does 2012 bring to the table? Here are five must-see Big 12 OOC games:

Notre Dame @ Oklahoma, Oct. 27. This one is fairly obvious. It won’t be a huge clash between two giants, but it certainly is game of intrigue for both fanbases. The Sooners could be undefeated at this point, but I wouldn’t count on Notre Dame to have a similar record. The Fighting Irish have a brutal slate, and adding a trip to Norman does not help.

Miami (Fl.) @ Kansas State, Sep. 8. Last season, these two teams met for the first time and it went down to the wire. The Canes are always an interesting opponent, and traveling to Manhattan should make for a good game in Week Two. The U aren’t exactly preseason favorites to win the ACC, but knocking off Bill Snyder’s Wildcats would be a huge momentum boost early in the year for Miami.

Oklahoma State @ Arizona, Sep. 8. Coming off a true gridiron battle with Savannah State, the Pokes will have their first road test of the season against Zona in Tucson. This will show how well the Cowboys respond away from the house that Boone built, and could set the tone for the rest of the season.

Texas @ Ole Miss, Sep. 15. Once again, I love tough road trips early in the year. If the Longhorns are for real, they should go in to Mississippi and kick some SEC tail, but the Longhorns have had their early season struggles before. Mack Brown will look to work out the kinks before the Horns take on the Rebels.

Maryland @ West Virginia, Sep. 22. This one screams uniform battle. It may not be a great one; the Mountaineers have dominated the Terps as of late. It is a rivalry game, though, and Maryland will want to get the last punch in before West Virginia faces Baylor in their first Big 12 conference game ever.