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 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


2019: Houston, South Dakota, at UCLA

2020: Missouri State, Tennessee, at Army

2021: at Tulane, Western Carolina, Nebraska

2022: UTEP, at Nebraska

2023: Georgia

2024: Temple, at Tennessee, Tulane

2025: Michigan, at Temple

2026: at Michigan

2028: Temple

2029: Nebraska

2030: at Nebraska

2031: at Georgia

2032: Alabama

2033: at Alabama

2035: at Clemson

2036: 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.

Oklahoma State

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

2024: Arkansas

2025: at Oregon

2026: 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

2027: Michigan

2028: Georgia

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.”

West Virginia

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

2025: 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

2021: California

2022: at Colorado

2023: Colorado

2024: at Stanford

2025: at North Carolina

2026: North Carolina

2027: Stanford

2028: at Duke

2029: Duke

2030: Purdue

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.

Iowa State

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

2028: Tulane

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

2025: Auburn

2026: at Auburn

2027: Oregon

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.

Texas Tech

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.

Kansas State

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

2028: Colorado

2029: at Wash State

2030: Rutgers

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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Guerin Emig


Twitter: @GuerinEmig



Sports Columnist

Proud father of Gretchen and Holden. Devoted husband to Christy, who has been my best friend since biology class at Booker T. Washington. I covered the Oklahoma Sooners for 15 years. That was both challenging and rewarding. Now I get to write columns.