The last time we analyzed Big 12 nonconference football schedules was 2016.
Playing attractive September games seemed pretty important at the time for two primary reasons: the College Football Playoff committee’s use of “strength of schedule” in separating comparable playoff contenders, and athletic directors’ need to give fans a reason to keep buying tickets in a comforts-of-home age.
Three years later the playoff committee still weighs strength of schedule and ADs still battle attendance concerns. According to a recent CBSSports.com report, the Big 12’s average home crowd in 2018 (56,490) was the league’s lowest since 2003.
That’s enough rationale for the Big 12 to keep beefing up non-conference scheduling. Here’s more: The Big 12 has flexed some considerable muscle since 2016.
Oklahoma has beaten Ohio State and made two playoff semifinals. Texas has beaten Notre Dame and USC and won a Sugar Bowl over Georgia.
West Virginia has beaten Tennessee and Missouri. TCU has beaten Arkansas and held its own against Ohio State.
Oklahoma State has gone 3-0 in bowls. Kansas State has beaten Texas A&M and UCLA in bowls. Baylor has beaten Vanderbilt and Boise State in bowls.
The Big 12’s bowl record over the past three years is 13-8. Not bad for a conference once considered the Marlon Jackson of the Power 5.
Now coaches Lincoln Riley (OU) and Tom Herman (Texas) are finding their groove. Matt Campbell and Matt Rhule are getting comfortable at Iowa State and Baylor, respectively. Mike Gundy (OSU) and Gary Patterson (TCU) are consolidating their power.
All of this is to say the Big 12 should seek nonconference challenges, not skirt them.
So let’s see how everyone is doing (future schedules listed are culled from both university official websites and FBSchedules.com):
2019: Houston, South Dakota, at UCLA
2020: Missouri State, Tennessee, at Army
2021: at Tulane, Western Carolina, Nebraska
2022: UTEP, at Nebraska
2024: Temple, at Tennessee, Tulane
2025: Michigan, at Temple
2026: at Michigan
2030: at Nebraska
2031: at Georgia
2033: at Alabama
2035: at Clemson
The Sooners lost Ohio State and are about to lose UCLA. They have added Clemson, Alabama and Georgia over the past six weeks.
Those heavyweights outmuscle the FCS lightweights appearing on OU’s 2019, ’20 and ’21 slates.
2019: at Oregon State, McNeese State, at Tulsa
2020: Oregon State, Tulsa, Western Illinois
2021: Rice, Tulsa, at Boise State
2022: Central Michigan, Arizona State, Missouri State
2023: at Arizona State, South Alabama
2025: at Oregon
2027: at Arkansas
The Cowboys added both Arkansas and Oregon last fall. That’s a regional SEC team and a new-money college football brand name similar to OSU.
Very well done, Pokes.
2019: Louisiana Tech, LSU at Rice
2020: USF, at LSU, UTEP
2021: Louisiana, at Arkansas, Rice
2022: at USF, Alabama
2023: Rice, at Alabama
2024: at Michigan, USF
2025: Ohio State
2026: at Ohio State
2029: at Georgia
Chris Del Conte scheduled Alabama and Georgia last year, his first as Texas AD. No wonder OU colleague Joe Castiglione called the Longhorns’ decision to hire Del Conte from TCU “phenomenal.”
2019: James Madison, at Missouri, North Carolina State
2020: Florida State (Atlanta), Eastern Kentucky, Maryland
2021: at Maryland, Indiana State, Virginia Tech
2022: at Pitt, Towson, at Virginia Tech
2023: at Penn State, Duquesne, Pitt
2024: Penn State, Albany, at Pitt
2026: Alabama, East Carolina
2027: at Alabama
The Mountaineers already were scheduling boldly in 2016. Since then they have added a Chick-fil-A Kickoff game against Florida State and a home-and-home with Alabama.
Here’s the one Big 12 team that might actually be overscheduling.
2019: Arkansas-Pine Bluff, at Purdue, SMU
2020: at California
2022: at Colorado
2024: at Stanford
2025: at North Carolina
2026: North Carolina
2028: at Duke
Here’s the one Big 12 team that has regressed, scheduling-wise, since ’16.
TCU had Ohio State and Arkansas on the docket then. In their place is North Carolina and Duke.
Which would be wonderful if this were a basketball column.
2019: Northern Iowa, Iowa, Louisiana-Monroe
2020: South Dakota, at Iowa, UNLV
2021: Northern Iowa, Iowa, at UNLV
2022: Southeast Missouri, at Iowa, Ohio
2023: Northern Iowa, Iowa, at Ohio
2024: North Dakota, Arkansas State, at Iowa
2025: at Arkansas State, Iowa
2026: Bowling Green
2027: at Bowling Green
2029: at Tulane
Here’s the one Big 12 team that hasn’t budged an inch. The Cyclones still schedule Iowa, the occasional FCS team and a bunch of FBS blah.
Campbell and Iowa State AD Jamie Pollard should be more daring, especially considering they have one of the most loyal, deserving fan bases in the conference.
2019: Stephen F. Austin, UTSA, at Rice
2020: Ole Miss (in Houston), Louisiana Tech, Incarnate Word
2021: at Texas State, BYU
2022: La Tech, at BYU, Texas State
2023: Texas State, Utah, at La Tech
2024: at Utah
2026: at Auburn
2028: North Texas, at Oregon
2029: at North Texas
The Bears scheduled pitifully three years ago. They added Auburn and Oregon last year.
Consider this the latest reason to be grateful that Rhule and AD Mack Rhoades are in charge in Waco, not Art Briles and Ian McCaw.
2019: Montana State, UTEP, at Arizona
2020: at UTEP, Wyoming, Arizona
2021: Lamar, at Houston
2022: Murray State, Houston, at North Carolina State
2023: at Wyoming, Oregon, Missouri State
2024: Abilene Christian, at Oregon, North Texas
2025: at Colorado State, Oregon State
2026: Abilene Christian, at Oregon State, Colorado State
2027: at North Texas, NC State
2028: at Mississippi State
2029: Mississippi State
The alliance with Oregon continues. Fine by me.
Texas Tech added the Ducks in August 2016, then Mississippi State and Oregon State last year. That more than makes up for Abilene Christian.
2019: Nicholls State, Bowling Green, at Mississippi State
2020: Buffalo, North Dakota, Vanderbilt
2021: Stanford, SIU, Nevada
2022: Abilene Christian, Missouri, Tulane
2023: Troy, at Missouri
2024: at Tulane, Arizona
2025: at Arizona
2026: Washington State, Tulane
2027: at Colorado
2029: at Wash State
2031: at Rutgers
K-State’s two additions since ’16 have been Missouri and Rutgers. They replace Mississippi State, Vandy and Stanford when they come off the schedule.
That isn’t a terrible backslide.
2019: Indiana State, Coastal Carolina, at Boston College
2020: New Hampshire, Boston College, at Coastal Carolina
2021: South Dakota, Coastal Carolina, at Duke
2022: at Houston, Duke
2023: Illinois, Houston
2024: at Illinois
2027: at Washington State
2028: Washington State
The Jayhawks stepped up by replacing Rutgers with Boston College, and sideways by adding Duke and Washington State.
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