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Athlon Sports ranks Texas non-conference schedule most difficult in Big 12

The Longhorns and Tigers meeting in Austin will represent the league’s marquee game heading into conference play.

NCAA Football: Sugar Bowl-Georgia vs Texas Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

The first game of the home-and-home series between the Texas Longhorns and LSU Tigers has the Horns facing the Big 12’s most difficult non-conference schedule once again this season, according to Athlon Sports.

“The Longhorns’ clash in the second week of the season against the LSU Tigers will command the attention of the college football world,” Allen Kenney writes. “A week later, UT gets a laugher at NRG Stadium against the Owls. Word to the wise: The Horns shouldn’t sleep on the Bulldogs in their season opener.”

Indeed, Louisiana Tech should be improved this season after beating North Texas and playing well against LSU in Baton Rouge, but it’s the game against LSU, the No. 9 team in ESPN’s post-spring power rankings, that earns Texas this nod, as well as a notable lack of high-level opponents for other conference teams.

Oklahoma, for instance, often plays a challenging non-conference schedule, having completed a home-and-home series against Ohio State several years ago, but ranks fifth here with premier opponent UCLA’s slide into mediocrity serving as the major impediment to a more difficult slate.

In Morgantown, however, there may be some concern about a tough start to the tenure of new head coach Neal Brown, whose first team will face FCS power James Madison, travel to Columbia to face Missouri, then host NC State.