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Ranking The Big 12’s Non-Conference Schedules

We are looking at who has the best non-conference schedule in the conference. Hint: It is not Baylor.



Getty Images - Jeff Haynes

In terms that explain the Big 12 current non-conference schedule, we will just say average. There are a few marquee games, but overall, it is full of cupcakes and pushovers. Without further adieu, here we go:

10: Baylor

SEP 3: vs Northwestern State
SEP 10: vs SMU
SEP 17: at Rice

Baylor has feasted on the cupcake schedule and turned themselves into a powerhouse. That’s about to change as the conference has made it mandatory that each member schedule at least one power five school in their non-conference, but for 2016, it’s another year of gorging on cake and icing.

The Bears are one of the only Big 12 teams without a power five school on their non-con slate, and secure the number 10 spot in the rankings.

9: TCU

SEP 3: vs South Dakota State
SEP 10: vs Arkansas
SEP 23: at SMU

Even though the Horned Frogs’ non-con schedule is 9th on the list, it is basically three times better than Baylor’s. South Dakota State should be an easy win to open the season, though they went 8-4 last season. Up next is the Arkansas game, which is obviously their toughest test and it could be competitive as the Razorbacks return a bundle of starters on both sides of the ball. As far as week two games go, this will be one to watch.

The Mustangs will be a romp in the battle for the Iron Skillet. Seriously, just give the Horned Frogs the trophy already. The only mildly interesting thing about this game is that it will be the Horned Frogs’ first time away from home, but they are basically traveling across the street.

8: Kansas State

SEP 2: at Stanford
SEP 17: vs FAU
SEP 24: vs Missouri State

The Wildcats were rather ambitious to open the season. It doesn’t get much harder than opening against Stanford on the road. However, the next two games should offer K-State little resistance. They host a really bad FAU team and a FCS team that only won a single game last season. That should certainly build confidence heading into conference play.

They’ll need it too, because they travel to Morgantown and Norman two of the next three weeks. If we did entire schedules, Kansas State would be up there, but we’re not and two cupcakes have them pretty far down.

7: Texas Tech

SEP 3: vs Stephen F. Austin
SEP 10: at Arizona State
SEP 17: vs Louisiana Tech

Texas Tech travels to the desert to take on Arizona State in what is their only quality match up in the non-conference. Before that though, they will beef up on a sub par FCS team in Stephen F. Austin.

After Tech’s trip to the desert, they face what should be an easy win over Louisiana Tech. It sets up for a nice 2-1 record, potentially 3-0 if they find the right cards in Tempe. A perfect start could set up for a perfect season well into October too.

6: Oklahoma State

SEP 3: vs Southeast Louisiana
SEP 10: vs Central Michigan
SEP 17: vs Pittsburgh

A quality home game against Pitt in middle September will be a nice test for the Cowboys heading into Big 12 play. Though they play a cupcake schedule, the tiers in which they’re laid out are nice. They start with the push over in Southeast Louisiana and then face the mighty Chippewas of Central Michigan before they host the Panthers.

I’d like to see Oklahoma State avoid the FCS teams if they really want to up their resume, but the combination of Pitt and Central Michigan is a better schedule than others.

5: Kansas

SEP 3: vs Rhode Island
SEP 10: vs Ohio
SEP 17: at Memphis

Poor Kansas. If this were anyone else’s non-con it probably wouldn’t be in the top five, but for a Jayhawk’s team that didn’t win a game last season, their non-con is fairly competitive.

They still may drop 11 games this year, but this is the only time I think scheduling a FCS team is okay. They need to get their confidence back and here is their chance. Rhode Island is terrible, even for FCS standards.

Unfortunately, KU’s next two games are much tougher. Ohio will be decent. It is unknown what Memphis will bring to the plate with their loss of certain players, but it is safe to say they will be more than tough competition for the Jayhawks.

I say Kansas goes 1-2. Which, is a victory in by all accounts.

4: Iowa State

SEP 3: vs Northern Iowa
SEP 10: at Iowa
SEP 24: San Jose State

The annual rivalry game with Iowa and Northern Iowa are almost always on the docket. That should be an immediate slight for the Cyclones, who are doing their instate opponent, Northern Iowa, a favor by playing this game. However, neither the Panthers nor the Cyclones have not forgotten about 2013.

The battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy headlines the Iowa’s non-con, but they won’t get much of a break afterward. Sandwiched in between their final two non-conference games are the TCU Horned Frogs.

By the time San Jose comes to Ames, the Cyclones could probably use a break. Hopefully, a freak early snow messes with boys from the Valley.

3: West Virginia

SEP 3: vs Missouri
SEP 10: vs Youngstown State
SEP 24: vs BYU

If it wasn’t for Youngstown State, this could give the two non-con schedules ahead a run for their money.

Conference pride is on the line for West Virginia’s opener. The new Big 12 member opens up the season against former Big 12 member, Missouri. Big 12 vs SEC, let’s just say that we need the Mountaineers to bury them.

Even in between Mizzou and BYU it is tough to argue Youngstown State as a trap game. WVU should win this one by 50+.

WVU will get a bye week before they face BYU in Maryland on Sept. 24  The Mountaineers could roll through this 3-0 if they don’t get slipped up by the Cougars.

2: Oklahoma

SEP 3: vs Houston
SEP 10: vs UL Monroe
SEP 17: vs Ohio State

This schedule seemed so much tougher before the mass exodus from Ohio State this season. The Buckeyes will look to reload, but this isn’t the same team from last year.

Before that though, OU opens against Houston in Houston, which is technically a neutral site game since the game is this year’s Advocare Texas Kickoff at NRG Stadium. The Sooners will need to come out firing on all cylinders. The Cougars won all but one game last season, and are perfectly capable of upsetting Oklahoma.

With the Buckeyes up the next week, UL Monroe has Oklahoma right where they want them. Unfortunately for them, they still don’t have much of a chance. Lately, The Warhawks have been a shell of the team that knocked off Arkansas, and nearly did the same to Auburn, in 2012. This is just a cash game for the Warhawks.

1: Texas

SEP 4: vs Notre Dame
SEP 10: vs UTEP
SEP 17: at California

The top two were a coin flip, but Texas-Notre Dame got the nod. Even if they aren’t at their best, it’s two of the elite of the elites going at it.

[bctt tweet=”This might be the only time Texas is ranked number one at anything this season.” username=”the_LGG”]

They’re still a year or two away from being back to their old selves, but they are really making it a point to try to do it now. They’re facing the Big 12’s toughest non-conference schedule.

Notre Dame embarrassed the Longhorns last season in South Bend, but on September 4th, Charlie Strong and company get a chance at retribution on their home soil. No matter how the game turns out, the Longhorns will have to remain focused for UTEP. The miners shouldn’t pose a threat to Texas, but in that coveted trap game position, they will give Texas everything they’ve got. Should Texas lose to the Fighting Irish, it would be a disaster if Notre Dame beat them twice the next week. Should they beat Notre Dame, nothing would be more embarrassing than turning around and dropping the ball against UTEP.

Texas can’t afford to take their eyes off of the Miners, but with travel plans to Berkley, CA, the next week, that is easier said than done. Cal narrowly knocked off the Longhorns last season in Austin, and Texas would love to return the favor this year. Should the Longhorns make it through their non-con unscathed, the rest of the conference should be put on notice, Texas will be back.