The Big12/SEC Challenge will commence for the eighth time this weekend. Last year saw a 5-5 split making the all-time series 4-1-2 in favor of the Big 12. They hold a 40-30 all-time record over the SEC in the challenge.
Last year’s premiere matchup saw an overtime win by No.15 Kentucky over No.18 Texas Tech in the only game between two ranked teams. This year brings a pair of ranked versus ranked games along with some marquee matchups among each conference’s best. We’ll preview the matchups and predict a winner.
No.9 Alabama (14-3) @ No.24 Oklahoma (10-4)
Challenge Record: Alabama 3-1, Oklahoma 5-2
Oklahoma’s jumped into the top 25 for the first time this season after huge wins over top ten teams Kansas and Texas. The Sooners have held their own in the Big 12 this season and have themselves comfortably in the NCAA Tournament. Unfortunately they’re facing an immovable force in Alabama who’s currently enjoying a 10-game winning streak. Crimson Tide should prove too much to lead off the day.
Texas A&M (7-7) @ Kansas State (5-12)
Challenge Record: Texas A&M 2-4, Kansas State 3-5
A battle of the uglies tips off at the same time. Both teams are incredibly poor offensively and are by far the worst in their conference in putting points on the board. The Aggies have the edge however as they should make up for it defensively. It should be enough to give the SEC an early 2-0 lead.
Prediction: Texas A&M
No.10 Texas Tech (11-5) @ LSU (11-4)
Challenge Record: Texas Tech 4-3, LSU 2-2
Similar to the Alabama/Oklahoma game, LSU is a solid team this year that is going to have their hands full with Texas Tech. The Tigers are very weak defensively and could struggle containing the Big 12’s second leading scorer Mac McClung. Tech is no joke defensively either which could spell trouble for the Tigers if it ends up being a high scoring game.
Prediction: Texas Tech
Florida (9-4) @ No.11 West Virginia (11-4)
Challenge Record: Florida 4-3, West Virginia 2-5
West Virginia has looked very good this year with three of their four losses coming to teams ranked in the top four at the time. They’re very aggressive defensively as well as on the offensive glass. That’s an area where Florida is weak, if they can’t limit the Mountaineers to one shot they’ll have little chance to pull off the upset.
Prediction: West Virginia
TCU (9-6) @ No.12 Missouri (10-3)
Challenge Record: TCU 4-3, Missouri 1-2
Missouri had a hiccup this past week with a loss to Auburn but should be able to get back on track with a mediocre TCU team. The Tigers should be able to smother TCU enough defensively to control the game enough and earn the win.
Auburn (10-7) @ No.2 Baylor (15-0)
Challenge Record: Auburn 2-3, Baylor 6-1
Baylor stands a very good chance to continue their dominance and improve on the best overall record in the challenge. Auburn has been on a hot run with the late addition of Sharife Cooper but nobody in the SEC is stopping Baylor this year. So far only two teams have finished within eight points against the Bears in 2021.
Arkansas (13-4) @ Oklahoma State (10-4)
Challenge Record: Arkansas 3-3, Oklahoma State 5-2
Of the unranked matchups, this one promises to be the most entertaining. It’s hard to tell which way this should go. Both have similar styles and teams and both can find scoring from a number of players on any night. Expect it to probably be a close game but Oklahoma State gets the edge having been more battle tested so far this season.
Prediction: Oklahoma State
No.15 Kansas (11-5) @ No.18 Tennessee (11-3)
Challenge Record: Kansas 5-2, Tennessee 4-2
The evening is highlighted by a pair of ranked teams that have slipped in recent weeks. Tennessee has lost two of their last three, just barely holding off Mississippi State on Tuesday this week. Kansas similarly has lost three of their last four. Both teams are outstanding defensively but Tennessee’s concerning lack of offense might tip the scales to Kansas.
Iowa State (2-8) @ Mississippi State (9-8)
Challenge Record: Iowa State 3-4, Mississippi State 0-2
The final game gives the Texas A&M/TCU game a run for their money for worst game of the challenge. Iowa State enters with just two wins on the season – against very bad competition. Mississippi State has lost three in a row and four of their last five. They’ve shown the ability to be good however and shouldn’t have too much problem with the Cyclones.
Prediction: Mississippi State
No.5 Texas (11-3) @ Kentucky (5-10)
Challenge Record: Texas 3-4, Kentucky 4-3
Challenge Prediction: Big 12: 5, SEC: 4
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