Ranking the Schedule

Ranking the Schedule

The Bears 2014 schedule has been known for a while now, but with the season less than 2 months away (YEAH!!!!!), let's see how this schedule truly look.

You have heard it from all over the place. The Bears non-conference schedule is, to put it nicely, lacking. Baylor is the lone Big 12 school to NOT play another Power-5 conference member in their 3-game tune up for Big 12 play. Last year, the Bears had the same caliber of opposition, but were joined by most of the Big 12 in a rather lackluster overall slate of games. This year though, heavyweights such as Alabama, Auburn, and Florida State will have to go through a Big 12 team.


The overall thought process of the Bears scheduling can be debated (and trust me, we will get to that), but that is not what this article is about. This article is just looking at the games, from easiest to hardest. Simple, and easy; unlike the overall scheduling conversation. Here is the schedule for 2014:


Date

Team

Location

08/31/14

SMU

Waco, TX

09/06/14

Northwestern State

Waco, TX

09/12/14

Buffalo

Buffalo, NY

09/27/14

Iowa State

Ames, IA

10/04/14

Texas

Austin, TX

10/11/14

TCU

Waco, TX

10/18/14

West Virginia

Morgantown, WV

11/01/14

Kansas (Homecoming)

Waco, TX

11/08/14

Oklahoma

Norman, Ok

11/22/14

Oklahoma State

Waco, TX

11/29/14

Texas Tech

Arlington, TX

12/06/14

Kansas State

Waco, TX

12. Northwestern State

The Demons were just 6-6 last year, and are a pretty average team for the FCS division. This is a gimme game, and one that the Bears will have their backups in for a good amount in the 2nd half.


11. Buffalo

The weirdest game on the schedule, see the Bears go on the road to face a mid-major team on a Friday night. Similar to what the Bears did with Louisiana-Monroe a few years back, this will be a massive game for the Bulls. However, knowing what the Bears did to a better version of the Bulls in 2013 (70-13 whopping), it is hard to believe that the Bears could fall in this one.


10. Kansas

This is just not a very good team, though better than 2 years ago. The Kansas defense isn't awful, but when "isn't awful" is the best thing to say about a team, you know it can't be good. This is a team that lost to Rice in 2013, and even hired the Rice offensive coordinator to do the same for the Jayhawks. With an intriguing young quarterback in Montrell Cozart, and a larger role for big-time play-maker Tony Pierson, the offense could improve a bit. This team though, is still quite a long way from simply getting to bad (instead of the historically awful they have been recently).


9. SMU

The Mustangs have hit a pretty big plateau the past few seasons. The arrival of June Jones brought SMU back to relevance, with 4 straight bowl games for the first time in SMU history. However, the 2013 season saw a step back with just 5 wins in the new American conferene. The Mustangs will be replacing Texas transfer Garrett Gilbert (who wasn't actually that bad for SMU last year) with Texas A&M transfer Matt Davis. Davis is a big-time talent, though he will have to beat Neal Burcham for the top stop.


8. West Virginia

The Mountaineers entry into the Big 12 has not been a welcome one. They have lost 14 of their last 20 games and have taken some big steps backward since their massive Orange Bowl win over Clemson in 2011. They won 7 games in 2012 but just 4 games in 2013. The quarterback position was a revolving door in 2013, with three candidates all having moments of success swallowed up by their flaws and failures. They simply couldn't replace Geno Smith from the year before. Florida State transfer Clint Trickett is the new hope for the Mountaineers and head coach Dana Holgerson, just like he was last year. Will another off-season in the system help him transition into the guy?


7. Iowa State

Call this the Ames bump. Just ask Oklahoma State how easy it is to go into Ames with a perfect record in front of a packed and crazy crowd. The Cyclones probably don't have more talent than West Virginia, but they have a dominating home field advantage, and they always seem to get that one game. The Cyclones though haven't' won more than they have lost in a season since 2009 (where they finished 7-6). They are just 20-30 over the past four seasons. In fact, they haven't had that one "big one" since that Oklahoma State game way back in 2011. They will be expereinced in 2014, and return almost their entire offense, with two quarterbacks to choose from (what is it about if you have more than one QB, you don't have a QB). New offensive coordinator Mark Mangino has been there before, turning a terrible Kansas team into a BCS bowl game participant before some unfortunate circumstances led to his dismissal. The one thing that never came into doubt about Mangino though was his coaching ability.


6. TCU

Another team in the Big 12 with big quarterback questions, as the Horned Frogs have another Aggie transfer in Matt Joeckel battling incumbent Trevone Boykin, who also happens to be the best wide receiver on the team as well. The Horned Frogs haven't had it as rough as West Virginia since coming to the Big 12, but the days of their BCS buster, 10+ win campaigns are a thing of the past. TCU has a dominant defense, and usually do under head coach Gary Patterson, but the offense was horrendous at times in 2013. If they can get better production from a running attack that disappeared, and not get killed at the quarterback spot with bad throws and even worse decisions, TCU could improve considerably in 2014.


5. Texas Tech

With a 7-0 start (largely built on the carcases of below average teams, highlighted by TCU), the Red Raiders were thought to have turned the corner in their first year under head coach KliffKingsbury. However, a 5 game losing streak to finish Big 12 play put a stop to that. Even worse, they were really only in one of those games (the first against OU) and lost the other four by 18, 23, 29, and 25 points. Davis Webb returns as the starter, as the two other quarterbacks that saw playing time transferred out. Webb had a great bowl game against Arizona State, and looks to fully step into the Air Raid quarterback assembly line. However, if he were to get hurt (as he did last year), the Red Raiders could have some major problems. They also lose one of the best offensive players in the Big 12 last year, in Jace Amaro, though return both of their top-2 running backs. The defense will have to learn how to stop the run, though the Red Raiders addressed their weak defensive line with four junior college recruits.


4. Oklahoma State

The Cowboys lost a ton of talent from their 2013 team, especially on the defensive side of the ball. But Coach Mike Gundy has his quarterback and a few key offensive weapons back fro 2014. The offense will score, but can that young and inexperienced defense stop anyone? Most are expecting a step back from the past few years (three 10+ wins seasons out of the last four). This is a team that had a Big 12 championship in its grasp, only to lose to rival Oklahoma in the last game. Baylor will definitely have this game circled on the calendar after last years brutal loss to end their perfect season.


3. Kansas State

Under-appreciated and overlooked by most, the Wildcats are loaded with one of the best players in the Big 12 in Tyler Lockett and an improving Jake Waters, who quietly put together an excellent last half of 2013. The Wildcats always seem to make a run at a Big 12 title every other year, and well, they are due again. This game would be up higher if it weren't in Waco.


2. Texas

With a new coach, and a new attitude, it will be interesting to see what the Longhorns, under Charlie Strong, have in store for the 2014-15 season. While they were a disappointment under Mack Brown the past few years (hence why he is no longer the coach), they had a chance to be Big 12 champions in the last game of the year against Baylor. They have a lot of talent coming back at the skill positions, and have some solid defenders back. However, the question will always center around quarterback production for UT, with the health of David Ash a key thing to watch. The Texas staff wants what the Bears have, a Big 12 championship, and this could be a monster home game for the Longhorns.


1. Oklahoma

The Sooners are a Top 10 team (and Top 5 according to some), with a ton of talented players returning from last years squad. They are getting a ton of praise for their performance against Alabama in the Sugar Bowl, especially quarterback Trevor Knight. However, even if he isn't as good as that, beating Oklahoma in Norman is not easy, and is something the Bears have never done. This game is by far the biggest obstacle in the Bears way of a perfect season.

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