NFL playoff picture 2021 – Standings, bracket after Thanksgiving games, plus Week 12 outlook


Welcome to a special Thanksgiving Day edition of our NFL playoff picture. If you kept only one eye on the games, or even if you watched them closely, we have a lot to discuss. The outcomes of two matchups shook up the playoff standings in both conferences. Among the takeaways:

  • The Buffalo Bills regained supremacy in the AFC East, at least temporarily. The Bills, of course, could be back among the wild-card contenders if the New England Patriots beat the Tennessee Titans this weekend.

  • The Bills’ win over the New Orleans Saints elevated the San Francisco 49ers into the NFC wild-card race. They’re currently No. 7 in the NFC standings, while the Saints’ fourth consecutive loss has them looking up at the NFC field.

  • The Las Vegas Raiders‘ win over the Dallas Cowboys stopped a mid-season slide and put them back in contention to move into the AFC wild-card race should a current contender falter.

  • The Cowboys’ lead in the NFC East isn’t yet threatened, but the surging Philadelphia Eagles can no longer be discounted in the division race.

We’ve updated those situations and more below. Look for another update after Sunday’s games as Week 12 continues.

Jump to: AFC | NFC

AFC

No team has exemplified this unpredictable season better than the Titans, who won seven of their first nine games despite facing the NFL’s most difficult schedule over that stretch. They then embarked on a much easier schedule, only to suffer a stunning home loss in Week 11 to the Texans. The defeat allowed the Colts to continue closing the gap in the AFC South, shrinking the Titans’ lead to two games with six to play. (Tennessee won both head-to-head matchups with Indianapolis.) Regardless of whether the Colts can catch them, it’s difficult to view the Titans as the clear-cut AFC favorite when two of their losses have come to the Texans and Jets — who have a combined record of 4-16. And now the Patriots, arguably the hottest team in the league, await them on Sunday.

Next up: at Patriots


Even without quarterback Lamar Jackson in Week 11, the Ravens managed to maintain their hold on first place in the AFC North. They haven’t been pretty for a while, having lost to the Bengals and Dolphins and eking out an overtime win over the Vikings over the past month. But maybe that’s just how it’s going to be for them.

Next up: vs. Browns


Will a convincing win Thursday in the Superdome be enough to pull the Bills out of a midseason spiral? They entered Week 12 having lost two of their past three games, including an inexplicable defeat to the Jaguars and a 26-point loss to the Colts. The Bills better hope they’ve figured things out, because they’re about to head into a brutal stretch of their schedule. They will play the red-hot Patriots twice in four weeks, with a game at the Buccaneers mixed in there, as well. But for a few days, at least, they’ve returned to the top of the AFC East.

Next up: vs Patriots (Week 13)

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Josh Allen finds Dawson Knox for his second touchdown of the game versus New Orleans.


The Chiefs are rolling off their fourth consecutive victory, a streak that has brought them from below .500 to atop the AFC West. There doesn’t seem to be much doubt that the Chiefs will be among the seven teams representing the AFC in the playoffs, and more likely than not, they will be the AFC West champion.

Next up: vs. Broncos (Week 13)


It took the Patriots less than two months to recover from their 1-3 start and even briefly supplant the Bills atop the AFC East. The Bills reclaimed first place with a Thanksgiving win over the Saints, but the Patriots will retake the position if they beat the Titans in Week 12. Five consecutive wins — and six in their past seven games — have not only given them a division advantage but also put them within reasonable range of the top seed in the AFC. It’s all in front of them now. The Patriots have a fortuitous home game against the AFC-leading Titans this week then play the Bills twice in a three-game stretch next month. If you’re judging postseason seedings by how teams are playing at the moment, it’s difficult to look past the Patriots as the best-situated team in the AFC (right now, of course).

Next up: vs. Titans


There was a time when lots of people were worried about Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow‘s health in returning from last season’s knee injury. Through 10 games, we can say that the concern was mostly unfounded. Just making it through 10 games didn’t seem a certainty when the season began, but he has the Bengals’ offense humming, most recently with a 32-point outburst in Week 11’s victory over the Raiders. ESPN’s Football Power Index (FPI) is giving the Bengals roughly a 50-50 chance of making the playoffs, but in a wide-open AFC, they have absolutely put themselves in position to be in the December conversation.

Next up: vs. Steelers


The Chargers did everything they could to fall out of the AFC’s top seven in Week 11, but in the biggest sign yet that they are turning a corner under coach Brandon Staley and quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chargers stopped doing Chargers things long enough to retake the lead. There is still a lot to question about the Chargers, most notably their special teams, but they showed they are to be taken seriously in the AFC playoff race.

Next up: at Broncos


In the AFC hunt

Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1)

The Steelers are winless in their past two games and are now out of the AFC’s top seven. It won’t get any easier when they travel to Cincinnati this weekend.

Indianapolis Colts (6-5)

The Colts have won three consecutive games and five of their past six, but prior to Week 11, the quality of the teams they beat wasn’t too impressive. That changed with a blowout victory at Buffalo. The Colts are trending in all the right directions, and the Buccaneers are their next test.

Las Vegas Raiders (6-5)

We can do nothing but tip our cap to the Raiders, whose post-Jon Gruden slide seemed well underway during a three-game losing streak entering Thursday’s game at the Cowboys. They went into AT&T Stadium and won a war of attrition, and now have 10 days to prepare for a winnable home game against Washington in Week 13.

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Anthony Brown is whistled for a pass interference penalty, which sets the Raiders up for Daniel Carlson’s winning field goal in overtime.

Cleveland Browns (6-5)

It’s incredible that the Browns have won six games given the obvious impact quarterback Baker Mayfield‘s left shoulder injury is having on his performance. Oh, and don’t forget the messy presence and departure of wideout Odell Beckham Jr. If you’re picking one team to fall out of the wild-card race due to exhaustion, it’s the Browns. They have a road trip to Baltimore on deck.

Denver Broncos (5-5)

The Broncos will return from a bye with a .500 record, but consecutive games against the Chargers and Chiefs will likely knock them further from the AFC wild-card race.

NFC

Let’s tip our cap to the Cardinals, who have traveled quite a journey since their last-minute loss in Week 8 to the Packers. Playing without quarterback Kyler Murray and wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins, they have gone 2-1 with wins at division rivals San Francisco and Seattle. The Cardinals have become the fourth team in NFL history to start a season 6-0 in road games and will get their MVP-caliber quarterback back sooner than later. FPI is calling them a virtual lock to make the playoffs and giving them a better than 90% chance to win the NFC West.

Next up: at Bears (Week 13)


In most scenarios, the Packers with Aaron Rodgers are a legitimate Super Bowl contender. But what should we say about a Packers team that is losing key players to injury on a weekly basis? They are still in really good shape in the NFC North, leading the Vikings by 2½ games, with a Week 17 matchup against Minnesota at Lambeau Field looming. But at the very least, the Packers’ depth is going to be tested during December football.

Next up: vs. Rams


The defending Super Bowl champions broke a mildly alarming two-game losing streak on Monday night with a convincing win over the Giants, a team that entered the game ranked No. 23 in the NFL with an average of 18.9 offensive points per game. The lane is there for a high seed in the NFC bracket, as their remaining schedule includes only two teams with winning records (the Colts and Bills).

Next up: vs. Colts


Uh-oh. The Cowboys were expected to take off once they got quarterback Dak Prescott back from injury. Instead, they have lost three of their past four games. Their lead in the NFC East is not yet threatened; the Eagles would still be two games behind in the loss column even if they beat the Giants on Sunday. But it remains an open question whether the Cowboys will head into the playoffs as a genuine contender or will be in the postseason simply because they’re the least-flawed team in a weak division.

Next up: at Saints (Week 13)

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A referee takes a fall as Tony Pollard takes the kick return 100 yards to the house.


It has been a quick tumble for the “all-in” Rams, who have fallen from the top spot in the NFC to the wild-card picture with two consecutive losses. Regardless, the Rams’ Week 11 bye came at a good time. They had two weeks to get newcomers Von Miller and Odell Beckham Jr. more acclimated to their program, in addition to figuring out why quarterback Matthew Stafford has thrown four interceptions during the two-game skid. They better hope they get it figured out, because their upcoming schedule includes not only the Packers but the Cardinals, Vikings, Ravens and 49ers. That will be a tough run.

Next up: at Packers


When you seem to play close games every week, the math says you should at least win some of them. The Vikings’ Week 11 victory over the Packers boosted their division and conference records. Both are key categories for tiebreakers, and their 4-2 NFC record is the reason they are ahead of the Saints and 49ers (whom they play next week) in the NFC playoff standings. Overall, the Vikings have played in seven consecutive games that have been decided by seven or fewer points, a stretch that either has hardened them for a playoff run or will ultimately cost them entrance into the postseason altogether.

Next up: at 49ers


The 49ers have won three of their past four, and they were able to leapfrog the Saints in the wild-card race following Thursday’s action. No one can say with certainty whether the 49ers are truly a playoff team, but sometimes these matters get decided in the postseason. Their remaining strength of schedule ranks No. 25 in the league. One caveat to keep in mind is that the Eagles, another NFC wild-card competitor, have the NFL’s easiest remaining schedule.

Next up: vs. Vikings


In the NFC hunt

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6)

The Eagles also have won three of their past four, all of which by more than 10 points. And when you see two games apiece against Washington and the Giants remaining, as well as a matchup against the Jets, you see a pretty favorable schedule for staying in the wild-card race. Philly has a road game against the Giants this week.

Carolina Panthers (5-6)

Can the Panthers really be a playoff contender with a quarterback they signed out of free agency and inserted into the starting lineup within two weeks? Cam Newton might be Superman, but he isn’t a magician. Carolina will travel to play the Dolphins on Sunday.

New Orleans Saints (5-6)

That’s now four consecutive losses for the Saints since starting quarterback Jameis Winston suffered a season-ending knee injury. Their offense had zero punch Thursday night against the Bills, and they’re now looking up at the NFC playoff field. They’ll play the Cowboys in Week 13, but the one bright spot is that four of their final six opponents have losing records.



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Experts predict 12% increase in holiday travel


WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) – If you plan on traveling to see family and friends for Thanksgiving, you’ll likely be sharing the roads and the airport with a lot more people. Travel experts project a 12% spike in holiday travel over the next week compared to last year in Kansas.

The surge usually starts the Friday before Thanksgiving, but airport officials say holiday travel is starting a little early this year. Traffic at the Dwight D. Eisenhower National Airport in Wichita was pretty steady on Thursday, and they expect it to continue throughout the holiday season.

“If you are traveling this year, you better pack your patience,” said Valerie Wise with air service and marketing for the Wichita Airport Authority.

The airport authority says this Thanksgiving holiday, passenger numbers are almost to where they were in 2019 – before the pandemic.

“There’s a lot of pent-up demand,” said Wise. “Families weren’t able to connect last year and are connecting this year.”

The Friday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving, and the Sunday after are projected to be busiest with roughly 3,000 people flying out of ICT. With more people checking and waiting on baggage, going through TSA and waiting in line to board, wait times are longer for just about everything.

With federal vaccine mandates taking effect for TSA workers next Monday, many travel experts feared it would increase wait times even more. But, TSA Administrator David Pakoske says vaccination rates are much higher than they were just weeks ago.

“And the good news for travelers is that more people, including TSA employees, are vaccinated. So for passengers, through a public health perspective, it’s a much safer experience,” said Pakoske.

The Wichita Airport Authority says TSA is fully-staffed and predicts roughly 30 minute wait times for passengers to get through security. Another suggestion is to arrive at the airport roughly two hours before departure time if you are flying out for Thanksgiving this year.

The airport authority also wants to remind passengers that masks are federally required in airports and on planes. They also encourage you to look at coronavirus restrictions or mandates in your destination city before you fly out.

If you plan on hitting the road, AAA says you won’t be alone. The travel agency predicts more than half a million Kansans will be on the road over the next week.

Copyright 2021 KWCH. All rights reserved.



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Why Aldi’s $12 special buy packing pouches has people raving


They are the small part of packing you’ve probably gone many years without. But now, you can nab a set of six for less than a double Big Mac meal.

They are the small part of packing you’ve probably gone many years without.

Fold clothes and pack them as neatly as possible for the trip out, the on the return journey — just stuff everything in as quickly as possible.

But in the era of Marie Kondo, when we all want a level of organisation in our lives, packing for travel no longer needs to be a scrambled mess.

The rise of packing pouches essentially helps travellers group certain items in soft pods so your suitcase remains organised.

While some of these pouch packs can be expensive, Aldi has dropped a cheap alternative that’ll cost you less than a McDonald’s Double Big Mac Meal.

The Aldi 6-pack packing pouches come in an array of colours and sizes, with blue, pink, grey and white all options on sale.

Each set of six comes with every bag you will need for a fully organised suitcase.

There’s a large 45cm bag for your denim, a medium 35cm bag for your shirts and Ts, a smaller bag for underwear, a shoe bag, a carry bag for toiletries and ever a pouch for any electrical leads or chargers.

The Special Buys travel sale, which launches today, also has an array of suitcases and other travel-related items perfect for your summer holiday now that both domestic and international trips are back on.

For $99, the premium two-part set comes in either black or grey. The large case, which measures 70cm and weight just 3.75kg, as well as the small case — slightly smaller at 58cm and weighing 2.7 kg.

For those who hate travelling with a bundle of different cords, the Universal Travel Adaptor will have your tech-headache solved.

The $14.99 device means is suitable for use in 150 countries, including 4 interchangeable travel adaptors to be used in Australia, EU, UK/HK and US/Japan.



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Live updates: traffic on the M5, A30, A38, A39 and travel news across Devon and Cornwall on Tuesday, October 12


The roads seem pretty quiet this morning as thousands of people across Devon and Cornwall are about to start their daily commute.

Several roadwork areas are being reported on the roads, including on the A30 at Zelah, Cornwall, where a road closure is in place, and on the A39 at Bideford, where temporary traffic lights have been installed.

One lane is also still closed on the Tamar Bridge due to resurfacing work.

We’ll be looking at all the latest traffic information until this evening, so keep checking back to make sure you get wherever you’re going as quickly and safely as possible.

We will bring you live updates of all the incidents and trouble spots around the region.

Follow our traffic blog below for the latest travel information





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Carnival Cruise to require vaccination proof for all passengers 12 and over


“The requirements for cruise ships to enter ports outside the U.S. continue to evolve, and Carnival Cruise Line must operate in full compliance with these regulations,” Carnival brand ambassador John Heald wrote on Facebook. He added, “We believe these will be will temporary measures and apologise for any disruption caused to our guests.”



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12 Mistakes Travelers Make in Las Vegas – and How to Avoid Them




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12 Tips On How To Eat Like A Local In Italy


Italian food is one of the main reasons for visiting Italy. Heck, it was the whole “eat” part of Eat, Pray, Love. Master of None did a whole season in Italy, just so Aziz Ansari could eat Italian food. Iron Chef Bobby Flay and Rome native Giada De Laurentiis spent six weeks sampling everything from gelato to pizza for their new mouthwatering Discovery+ show, Bobby and Giada in Italy.

Eating is a big part of anyone’s Italian vacation. Knowing how to eat like a local in Italy is important because no one wants to stick out like a sore thumb, or worse, inadvertently offend someone. We reached out to Steve Perillo, CEO, President, and third-generation family owner of Perillo Tours, America’s leading tour company to Italy, for some expert advice on how to eat like a local in Italy. Here are some tips he shared with us.

1. Seat Yourself At Cafés And Bars

Italian seating customs will be familiar to Americans. “While visiting a ristorante (restaurant) or pizzeria/trattoria, guests should wait for the host to seat you. At a café or bar, guests can seat themselves,” according to Steve.

Few coins and the bill on a coffee table after the clients have left.
Radu Razvan / Shutterstock.com

2. Tips On Tipping

Steve’s advice on leaving a tip: “You are not expected to tip restaurants in Italy, but it is appreciated. If you are sitting down or standing for coffee, you can leave one euro, which is more than enough. You can tip as much or as little as you like, but the tip is not anywhere near the 20 percent that has become standard in the U.S. A good rule of thumb in a restaurant is about one euro per person. Or you can round up the bill. For example, if the bill is $91, you can leave $100.” Read on for an explanation of charges you may see on your bill.

Coperto

Steve says to keep in mind that there is sometimes a charge called a coperto. “This coperto should be clearly stated somewhere on the menu and may range from one to three euro per person. A coperto is not a tip, it is a cover charge to offset the price of bread, oil, salt, and anything else you might be using.”

Servizio

Steve told us, “Another charge that you may be charged is called the servizio. This should also be clearly stated on the menu and should be used for groups of eight or more. The servizio is a tip, so there is no need to leave anything more if you have been charged this fee.”

A residential street in Rome, Italy, where people are dining outdoors at a small neighborhood restaurant on an old cobblestone street at night.
CherylRamalho / Shutterstock.com

Steve recommends making reservations for dinner, especially in major cities.

4. Dress For Dinner

Italians are quite fashion-conscious. While American standards for dining dress consist of “No shirt, no shoes, no service,” Italians would expand that to say, “No tank tops, no shorts, no flip flops.”

When we asked about dress codes, Steve responded, “Unless it is a fancy restaurant that enforces a dress code, one can wear slacks with a nice shirt or blouse. Jeans are also fine unless it is a fancy restaurant.”

Italian Bruschetta (Photo Credit: Laura Ray)

5. Don’t Butter Your Bread

In Italy, bread is served with the meal, not as an appetizer. Steve explains why: “A typical Italian meal consists of a first course, ‘il primo’ (pasta or soup); a second course, ‘il secondo’ (meat or fish), served together with a side dish, ‘il contorno’ (vegetable or salad); dessert; and coffee. No pasta dish is complete without the act of ‘fare la scarpetta,’ which literally means make a little shoe and mop up the leftover sauce on your plate. It’s a widely used ritual in Italy. This is why bread is usually left on tables in restaurants. Butter and oil are not served with bread in Italy.”

Friends having a pasta dinner at home or at a restaurant.
Yulia Grigoryeva / Shutterstock.com

6. Follow These Table Manner Dos And Don’ts

Here are a few more tips from our guide Steve that you may not be aware of:

  • Don’t cut your pasta with a knife
  • Do fill up your neighbor’s glass before your own
  • Don’t ask for salad dressing — oil and vinegar are all you need. 
  • Don’t expect ice in your drinks! Italians do not drink ice-cold drinks and normally do not put more than one cube in a drink unless you ask for it. 
  • Don’t put any cheese on pasta with seafood.
  • Don’t ask for a doggie bag at a restaurant.
23 may 2015-rome-italy-Places to eat in the district of Trastevere,rome
Ghischeforever / Shutterstock.com

7. Don’t Order Cappuccino After Mid-Morning

Ordering a cappuccino after a certain hour of the day is a sure-fire way to oust yourself as a tourist. According to Steve, “Cappuccino is considered a breakfast coffee and is never drank later than mid-morning.”

Cup of fresh espresso coffee in a cafe with view on Vesuvius mount in Naples, Campania, Southern Italy
Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Shutterstock.com

8. If You Ask For A Latte, You’ll Get A Glass Of Milk

Steve sets us straight when it comes to Italian coffee: “The classic Italian coffee is an espresso, though the term espresso is hardly ever used in Italy — it’s simply called a caffè. The word lattè means milk, so if you order a ‘latte’ at an Italian bar, you’ll get a glass of cold milk. Ask for a caffè con latte if you want the Italian version.”

9. At The Café, Pay Then Order

It may seem backward to Americans, but if you stop at a café for a quick coffee, pay at the cash register first, then take your receipt to the barista and give them your order. 

Alessandro Perazzoli / Shutterstock.com

10. Don’t Buy Bottled Water

Just bring your own reusable water bottle! As Steve relates, “Italian fountains contain some of the freshest water in the country. Rather than buy multiple water bottles, do as the locals do and bring your own disposable bottle and refill it from these fountains. If you don’t have a water bottle handy, you can plug the side spigot on most fountains with your thumb and the water will come out of a top spigot so you can drink.”

In Italy, it’s customary to bring dessert, wine, or prosecco instead of gifts.
Jacob Lund / Shutterstock.com

11. Bring Something Edible As A Hostess Gift

If you’re going to someone’s house for dinner, don’t bring soap or candles as a gift. In Italy, it’s customary to bring dessert, wine, or prosecco instead.

12. Take La Passeggiata After Dinner

“Passeggiata is a daily ritual that Italians really enjoy,” according to Steve. “Take some time later in the day to stroll through the streets, chat with friends, or do some window shopping.”



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Boston’s ‘Skinny House’ just sold for more than $1.2 million


(CNN) — It’s tiny, but mighty.

Boston’s “Skinny House” — an iconic structure and must-see tourist attraction known as the narrowest home in the city — just sold for more than $1.2 million.
“People are amazed it was built to be, really, this skinny,” said Travis Sachs, executive vice president at CL Properties, who worked with the real estate agency’s president, Carmela Laurella, to sell the home.

“It’s maybe six feet and change across,” Sachs added. “So, if you stand with your hands spread apart, you could really be wall-to-wall.”

The "Skinny House," in the middle, is seen here on August 13, 2021.

The “Skinny House,” in the middle, is seen here on August 13, 2021.

Elise Amendola/AP

The home, roughly 1,165 sq. ft. over four levels, was built in 1862 according to some records, while the city’s record says 1890, Sachs said. With views of both the water and the city, it’s nestled in Boston’s North End, a largely Italian area home to some of Boston’s most historic buildings and dozens of restaurants.

Tourists pass by the home daily as part of Boston’s Freedom Trail — a 2.5-mile path that stops at more than a dozen historic sites, including Copp’s Hill Burying Ground, right across from the “Skinny House.” The site, dating back to 1659, was the final resting place for people including activists, artisans, tradesmen as well as two Puritan ministers associated with the Salem witch trials.

“When I was just there just to photograph the house with my photographer, I must have had about 75 tourists come through and just photograph the house as part of their walking tour,” Sachs said.

CL Properties

And the home has its own rich history, marked today by a plaque at the front labeling the building as a “Spite House.”

Here’s why: Legend says that in the early 1800s, the lots of land where the home is located were owned by a family. One of the brothers that owned one part left for war and came back to find his brother had built a house. So the brother who had just returned decided to build the “Skinny House” right in front of his brother’s home — blocking the entry to the building in the back, the view and the light.

“It’s as spiteful as it gets,” Sachs said.

CL Properties

The 2-bed, 1-bath home at 44 Hull Street saw tremendous demand when it was listed on the market last month and went under agreement less than a week later, according to a Facebook post by the real estate agency.

“Which is wild, especially being that it’s Covid times and usually people want bigger houses than going small,” Sachs said, adding that after multiple different offers, it sold September 16 to a family of four for $50,000 more than the asking price.

The home was last sold in 2017 for $900,000, Sachs said.



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Cowgirl Basketball Reveals Big 12 Slate


2021-22 Schedule

STILLWATER, Okla. –

Oklahoma State’s women’s basketball team has completed its schedule for the upcoming season with the announcement of the Big 12 slate by the league office today.

The Cowgirls are coming off a 19-9 campaign a year ago and a run to the second round of the NCAA Championship.

OSU will open its 18-game, double round robin schedule on Jan. 2 with a home contest against Texas before hosting Kansas State on Jan. 5.

The Cowgirls will embark on a two-game road swing, which opens with a Jan. 8 contest at Texas Tech before traveling to Fort Worth to face TCU on Jan. 12.

After returning home to face Iowa State on Jan. 15, OSU will travel to Waco to face Baylor on Jan. 19.

A Jan. 22 home date with West Virginia will precede the first installment of the Bedlam Series, which will take place in Norman on Jan. 26.

Kansas will come to Stillwater on Jan. 29 before OSU heads to Ames to face Iowa State on Feb. 5.

The Cowgirls will return home to face TCU (Feb. 9) and Texas Tech (Feb. 12) before a two game road swing through the state of Kansas. OSU will play in Lawrence against Kansas on Feb. 16 before making the trip to Manhattan to take on K-State three days later.

OSU will return home to face Baylor on Feb. 23 before a road contest at West Virginia on Feb. 26.

The home portion of the schedule will close with Oklahoma coming to town on March 2.

A road trip to Texas on March 5 will wrap up the regular season.

Tip times and television information will be released when available.



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