In recent years, the Big 12 has been at once completely stable and highly volatile.
Oklahoma has won five straight conference championships, losing one game in league play along the way the last four seasons, always as a substantial favorite.
The rest of the conference has been a choose-your-own-adventure ride, with five different schools finishing second to the Sooners each of the last four years. Oklahoma State and West Virginia tied for second in 2016.
A week after the Big 12 was a few competent minutes by Texas Tech from having both of its traditional heavy-weights beaten on the first day of conference play, No. 9 Texas and No. 18 Oklahoma again face potentially challenging games.
The Longhorns welcome TCU, which has owned Texas since UT’s former athletic director, DeLoss Dodds, played a pivotal role in the Horned Frogs joining the Big 12 in 2012.
TCU coach Gary Patterson is 6-2 against three Texas coaches in Big 12 play. That’s no way to repay a favor.
In fact, it could be argued no rivalry best represents the Longhorns’ recent struggle to be more than just another Big 12 contender than their series with the Frogs.
From 1968 until the Southwest Conference dissolved after the 1995 season, TCU beat Texas once. TCU becoming a yearly series again was not supposed to represent a threat to Texas, but not only have the Frogs won two-third of the games but they have often done so in resounding fashion.
Oklahoma will try to bounce back from its second-half collapse against Kansas State against Iowa State in Ames. Traditionally, this has been a reliable get-right game for the Sooners. Oklahoma has lost just twice to Iowa State since 1962.
Coach Matt Campbell’s arrival at Iowa State, however, has turned the ‘Clones into a tough out: OU has won three of the last four, but none by more than 10 points.
Could be another interesting Saturday for the Red River Rivals, who play each other next.
Louisiana Tech (plus 23 1/2) at No. 22 BYU
Cougars QB Zach Wilson has completed all of his third-down passes in two games. All five of them. … BYU 38-21.
Virginia (plus 28) at No. 1 Clemson
Cavaliers have avoided the Tigers through much of Clemson’s run of five straight ACC titles — except last year’s 62-17 conference championship blowout … CLEMSON 42-10.
No. 13 Texas A&M (plus 17) at No. 2 Alabama
Nick Saban is 19-0 against his former assistants, including 3-0 against Aggies coach Jimbo Fisher … ALABAMA 35-20.
South Carolina (plus 18) at No. 3 Florida
Florida had five games with 500 yards total offense during current Gamecocks coach Will Muchamp’s four seasons (49 games) leading the Gators; Florida has eight 500-yard games in 27 under Dan Mullen … FLORIDA 38-23.
Auburn (plus 6 1/2) at No. 4 Georgia
Will Southern California transfer QB J.T. Daniels start for the Bulldogs … GEORGIA 24-20.
TCU (plus 11 1/2) at No. 9 Texas
Longhorns tilt series with the Frogs back their way … TEXAS 34-21.
Tulsa (plus 22) at No. 11 UCF
Knights QB Dillon Gabriel has passed for more than 400 yards in each of UCF’s first two games … UCF 45-21.
No. 12 North Carolina (minus 14) at Boston College
First meeting since 2013 and the Tar Heels are 4-0 against the Eagles since joining the ACC in ’05 … NORTH CAROLINA 38-21.
South Florida (plus 22) at No. 15 Cincinnati
Bearcats have held 20 of last 29 opponents under 4.0 yards per rush … CINCINNATI 31-7.
Arkansas (plus 18) at No. 16 Mississippi State
Bulldogs probably won’t need 623 yards passing from QB K.J. Costello this week … MISSISSIPPI STATE 38-23.
No. 17 Oklahoma State (minus 21) at Kansas
Cowboys have won 10 straight in the series … OKLAHOMA STATE 42-17.
No. 18 Oklahoma (minus 7) at Iowa State
Sooners last lost consecutive regular-season games in 1999 … OKLAHOMA 35-24.
No. 20 LSU (plus 20 1/2) at Vanderbilt
Tigers go from Air Raid to a Vandy offense that has gone eight straight games without breaking 200 yards passing … LSU 38-14.
Missouri (plus 11 1/2) at No. 21 Tennessee
Vols have won seven straight, best streak since 11 in a row spanning 2015 and ‘16. We’ll see if this ends better for coach Jeremy Pruitt than it did for Butch Jones … TENNESSEE 27-20.
North Carolina State (plus 14) at No. 24 Pittsburgh
Panthers lead the country in tackles for loss with 11.33 per game … PITTSBURGH 35-17.
No. 25 Memphis (minus 2 1/2) at SMU
Tigers have not played since Sept. 5 because of a COVID-19 outbreak. Hard to know what to expect … SMU 38-31.
Navy (minus 6 1/2) at Air Force — @EZembeck
First game for the Falcons who are expected to play with a depleted roster … NAVY 28-14.
Texas Tech (plus 2 1/2) at Kansas State — @MatthewHLeach
Wildcats have won eight of nine in the series … KANSAS STATE 35-31.
Baylor (minus 3) at West Virginia — @ArtWMoore
Bears snapped a three-game losing streak to the Mountaineers last year … WEST VIRGINIA 24-21.
Last week: 14-5 straight; 8-11 against the spread.
Season: 27-9 straight; 20-15 against the spread.
Follow Ralph D. Russo at https://twitter.com/ralphDrussoAP and listen at http://www.westwoodonepodcasts.com/pods/ap-top-25-college-football-podcast/
More AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25