Tuesday, August 27, 2013
The List: Top Big 12 games for recruits
By William Wilkerson
When you get down to it, the Big 12 is still centered around two programs: Texas and Oklahoma. Even though neither is the clear-cut favorite to win the Big 12, the Red River rivals still move the needle for many recruits. So it should come as no surprise that many of their games will be among the Big 12’s most important as far as recruiting is concerned. Here is a look at the Big 12’s top 10 most important games to recruits (not limited to conference games).
1. Oklahoma vs. Texas, Oct. 12 There is never a season that this game isn’t circled by each fan base and by just about any top recruit in the region as one of the marquee games. Prospects will be keeping an eye on not only how the game unfolds but also how each coaching staff interacts with players, how they fit into each team’s particular schemes, etc. There is more pressure on Texas to win this game this season, given that OU has owned the rivalry the last three seasons. If the Sooners find a way to win for a fourth consecutive season, the Longhorns will have a tougher time in head-to-head recruiting battles in the near future.
2. Oklahoma at Oklahoma State, Dec. 7 For the first time ever, Oklahoma State (No. 13) is ranked ahead of Oklahoma (No. 16) in the preseason Associated Press Top 25. The Cowboys also begin the season as the favorite to win the Big 12. Recruits notice this, but also want to see how the Pokes will handle the pressure. The conference championship could be on the line in this one, so you know recruits from across the country will be in attendance. The Sooners won a 51-48 thriller in 2012.
3. LSU vs. TCU, Aug. 31 What a show this is going to be at Cowboys Stadium. Yes, TCU should have plenty of supporters, but LSU fans will arrive by the thousands in an attempt to make this as much a home atmosphere as possible. The Tigers have always recruited the state of Texas extremely well and this is just another opportunity for them to show recruits in the state what type of program they are. This is a statement game for the Horned Frogs, who will be without suspended defensive end Devonte Fields.
4. Oklahoma State at Texas, Nov. 16 This is going to be a big recruiting weekend not only for the home team, but also the Cowboys. The stands will be packed with top targets of both schools who will be eager to see how two of the top teams in the league match up against the other. It is late in the season, which could mean that some will have already ended their recruitment. But for those still undecided, or even those not so sure if they’ve made the right selection, this one could go a long way in clarifying things. Oklahoma State has a strong presence in the Lone Star State. It could grow exponentially stronger with a W.
5. Oklahoma at Notre Dame, Sept. 28 This is the first of a monstrous, three-game stretch for the Sooners, who follow a trip to South Bend with a home game against TCU and their annual grudge match in Dallas against Texas. Upsetting Notre Dame in South Bend would go a long way toward capturing the attention of their top targets and give them plenty of momentum heading into their next two league contests.
6. Texas at TCU, Oct. 26 What a statement game this could be for Gary Patterson and his program if they could beat Texas for a second consecutive season. Last year the Horned Frogs traveled to Austin and defeated the Longhorns on Thanksgiving. Another win would give TCU plenty of ammunition when going after the same recruits. With so many returning starters back for both programs, recruits know that early playing time could be in store by the time they get to college. The Longhorns will either be riding a huge wave of momentum in to this one or will have just suffered a fourth straight loss to Oklahoma.
7. Texas at Baylor, Dec. 7 This game could not only have Big 12 title implications, but could also have a lot to do with where the state’s top offensive talent decides to go to school. Baylor has gotten its fair share as of late – ESPN 300 WR K.D. Cannon and ESPN 300 ATH Davion Hall in 2014 – but the Longhorns are still, well, the Longhorns and will have something to say about things moving forward.
8. TCU at Oklahoma, Oct. 5 The Horned Frogs are starting to win their fair share of recruiting battles over Oklahoma, with commitments from recruits such as offensive lineman Ty Barrett (Dallas/Skyline) and defensive tackle Zaycoven Henderson (Longview, Texas/Longview). They’d put themselves in position to win several more with a victory in Norman. They’ve done it before, winning there twice in their last three trips (1996, 2005). For OU, this game is sandwiched between a road trip against Notre Dame and its annual battle against Texas, a stretch that could define its season and the direction of its 2014 class.
9. Ole Miss at Texas, Sept. 14 The job Hugh Freeze has done in his short time at Ole Miss is nothing short of remarkable. As any coach should do, he’s immediately started to build a pipeline into the state of Texas. In fact, he was able to get a commitment from 2014 defensive end Victor Evans (Dallas/Skyline), who many thought was headed for Texas. A victory by the Rebels would obviously do wonders for the stability of that pipeline. As for Texas, well, this is one of its biggest home games of 2014. It should be packed with recruits.
10. TCU at Texas Tech, Sept. 12 A ton of eyes will be tuned in to this ESPN-televised Thursday night game as Kliff Kingsbury makes his Big 12 debut against a TCU program many think will be in contention for the conference title. Both programs have recruited well so far in 2014 but this game, particularly for Tech, is a statement game for the future of the program. If the TCU defense, which has become a staple of Gary Patterson's program, can contain Tech’s offense, it would be another selling point for recruits. It’s never easy to come out of Jones AT&T Stadium with a win.