By the end of September we should know what we're dealing with in the Big 12.
But even then, parity is likely to keep fans guessing as to who will break from the pack, if anyone, by early December.
The conference went undefeated last week, putting up impressive offensive stats against overmatched programs; which provided, for the most part, diddly-squat for an actual barometer on how good, bad or mediocre the league is going to be in 2012.
This weekend fans will get a better gauge of what we're really looking at.
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to the Star-Telegram
Oklahoma State walked over Football Championship Subdivision team Savannah State, which has gone 4-28 the previous three seasons, 84-0 last week. The Cowboys play at Arizona on Saturday night. The Wildcats slipped past Toledo in overtime last week. The Cowboys should win, but at least it's a road game against an FBS opponent.
Kansas State plays Miami after scoring 35 fourth-quarter points to beat Missouri State, another FCS team, 51-9. Kansas State beat the Hurricanes 28-24 last year in Miami with a goal-line stand with under a minute to play. Miami isn't what it used to be, but Wildcats fans will know more about their season than they did last weekend.
Iowa State beat Iowa 44-41 in triple overtime last year. The Hawkeyes went 7-6 in 2011 and last week barely escaped Northern Illinois 18-17. The Cyclones started with a 38-23 win over Tulsa. Iowa is 39-20 in the series dating to 1894.
The rest of the conference, including TCU vs. Grambling State, Texas vs. New Mexico, Kansas vs. Rice, and Oklahoma vs. Florida A&M, offers no test, although the Jayhawks could be tested. Still, that says more about the program Charlie Weis inherited than it does about the Owls, who lost their opener to UCLA 49-24.
TCU and Kansas kick off conference play Sept. 15 while Texas plays at Ole Miss that day. Those are winnable games for both TCU and Texas, but not enough of a test to start getting a better gauge of the future.
By the last two weeks in September, however, some form of a conference hierarchy will begin to take shape. That's when coaches begin to show their hands. Some will begin to fold and others will raise the stakes on their season with wins.
Hot seat in San Marcos
Texas Tech plays at Texas State on Saturday in what could turn out to be a tougher game than was once expected for the Red Raiders.
The Bobcats beat Houston 30-13 last week despite being a 36-point underdog. Tech beat Texas State 50-10 in Lubbock in 2011, but the momentum seems to be with the Bobcats, who are playing their first season in the FBS.
"Anybody you play, you've got to get ready," Tech coach Tommy Tuberville said. "It's still more about us than who we play. We're not a great football team; we're playing better. It's a big game for them and obviously, it's going to be a big game for us."
The Bobcats led the Red Raiders 10-9 at the half last season before Tech scored 41 second-half points.
"They came in and whipped us pretty good for three quarters," Tuberville said. "Texas State played well [last week], they played physical and made big plays. It will be a tough game for us, especially on the road."