- Brandon Chatmon, ESPN Staff Writer
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The college football offseason is way too long. But we’re here to help with your suffering. With spring ball done and the season still months away, we’re giving you a taste of the 2014 season, with the long-awaited Big 12 Ultimate Road Trip series.
To those unfamiliar with this series, we both pick a game featuring a Big 12 team in every week of the season that we’d cover if the travel budget were unlimited and there were no editors telling us where to go.
We’ll be basing our choices on a number of factors, including the quality of the matchup and the stakes that could be involved. The only restriction is that each of us can pick only one game per week.
Let’s continue with Week 3.
Baylor at Buffalo
West Virginia at Maryland
Kansas at Duke
Texas vs. UCLA (in Arlington, Texas)
UTSA at Oklahoma State
Minnesota at TCU
Iowa State at Iowa
Arkansas at Texas Tech
Tennessee at Oklahoma
Jake Trotter’s pick: Texas vs. UCLA (Arlington, Texas)
In Week 3, I’m headed to Arlington, Texas, to get a glimpse of what the Longhorns will be made of under coach Charlie Strong.
UCLA will likely be in the top 10 in the polls for this game, giving the Stronghorns a tremendous opportunity to earn back national respect.
Of course, such a difficult early-season schedule could also set the stage for another calamitous start for Texas.
With BYU the week before, and Big 12 co-favorites Baylor and Oklahoma looming the first two weeks of October, it’s not unthinkable the Longhorns could get off to a 2-4 start.
But a win over the Bruins could send a loud message that Texas is on the way back.
Brandon Chatmon’s pick: Tennessee at Oklahoma
I strongly considered a trip to Lubbock, Texas, to see the other SEC vs. Big 12 battle in Week 3, Arkansas at Texas Tech.
But the opportunity to see the Vols try to derail OU’s College Football Playoff hopes was too good to ignore.
This will be Trevor Knight's first opportunity on a big stage to prove his Sugar Bowl performance was no fluke but, instead, a sign of things to come. The sophomore played like a Heisman Trophy candidate in the Sugar Bowl win over Alabama but played like a redshirt freshman for much of the rest of his debut season in 2013. This game will show if he’s taking steps toward consistency.
Tennessee will have enough athletes to give the Sooners trouble if OU doesn’t bring its “A” game. And the Vols will be carrying SEC pride on their shoulders because, as a team that finished in the bottom half of the conference last fall, they are exactly the type of SEC squad OU coach Bob Stoops has questioned when wondering about the overall depth of the SEC.
The Vols can send a message or Stoops can say “I told you so.”
And I’ll be on hand to see it all.
Week 1: Trotter -- SMU at Baylor; Chatmon -- West Virginia vs Alabama (Atlanta)
Week 2: Trotter -- Kansas State at Iowa State; Chatmon -- Kansas State at Iowa State