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2 Big 12 Non-conference games gaining attention
June 16, 2014
Wendell Barnhouse is a nationally-known and respected columnist who has spent over 20 years covering collegiate athletics. He has reported from 25 Final Fours and more than three dozen bowl games and has written about the Big 12 and its schools since the conference's beginning. Barnhouse will be updating the Big 12 Insider on happenings and behind-the-scenes information about the conference.

Stewart Mandel of listed his top 10 non-conference football games for the 2014 season. Here’s what he said about two games involving Big 12 teams that made his list:

UCLA vs. Texas in Arlington, Texas (Sept. 13, 7 p.m. CST, FOX): Led by quarterback Brett Hundley and two-way star Myles Jack, the Bruins enter this fall as dark horse playoff contenders -- lofty expectations for a program that last reached a BCS bowl in 1998. Conversely, new Texas coach Charlie Strong has already downplayed the hype surrounding his team. "We will not be in the national championship game," he said in April. The most pressing question for the Longhorns: Who will be the starting quarterback? Injury-maligned David Ash, sophomore Tyrone Swoopes and heralded true freshman Jerrod Heard will all compete for the job.

Florida State vs. Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas (Aug. 30, 7 p.m. CST, ABC): ABC's first Saturday night prime-time showcase is relevant for two reasons: It's the defending national champions' season opener, and it provides the first glimpse of what to expect in Winston's redshirt sophomore campaign. The Cowboys are coming off a 10-3 season, but they'll head into an already daunting matchup without most of their top contributors from last year's top-10 defense. That includes cornerback Justin Gilbert, who was selected in the first round of the 2014 NFL draft. That doesn't bode well against a 'Noles' offense that returns Winston, Greene and five senior starters on the offensive line.

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