Many Non-Conference Football Scheduling Philosophies In The Big 12
There are as many non-conference football scheduling philosophies in the Big 12 as there are cereal options at your local grocery story.
There are hearty, healthy varieties that help get you started, and others may be fun and flavorful but feature no nutritional value.
Most Big 12’s football programs actually have put together non-conference schedules that are a bit more challenging than they were just a few years ago. Every Big 12 team this year, with the exception of Oklahoma State, will play at least one Power 5 opponent among its three non-conference games. West Virginia (Tennessee and North Carolina State) and Texas (Maryland and USC) actually play two P5s, but everyone else, other than the Cowboys, faces at least one. Of the 10 Big 12 teams, all but two (Oklahoma and Texas) will host a FCS opponent this year, so dropping down for a buy-in game is a common occurrence.
Here is a look at each Big 12 football schedule for 2018.
Baylor – (Home: Abilene Christian, Duke, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU; Away: UTSA, Oklahoma, Texas, WVU, Iowa State; Neutral: Texas Tech (Arlington))
The Bears used to be the poster child for an extremely soft non-conference schedule. They’ve upgraded slightly by adding a Power 5 team in Duke to the schedule this year. And in future years, BU has Ole Miss, BYU, Utah and Oregon on its schedule.
Still, Baylor didn’t overexert itself too much this year. Abilene Christian, which comes to Waco for the Sept. 1 opener, was a D-II program just four years ago before moving up to the FCS ranks. The Bears also leave the state of Texas just three times this season and don’t have any back-to-back road games.
BU comes to West Virginia for a Thursday, Oct. 25 game at Mountaineers. Both WVU and Baylor are open the Saturday prior, and the Bears will follow their trip to Morgantown with a date in Waco against Oklahoma State.
Iowa State – (Home: South Dakota State, Oklahoma, Akron, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Baylor; Kansas State; Away: Iowa, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Texas)
The Cyclones’ non-conference schedule is pretty much the same each year. They have a home-and-home contract with in-state rival Iowa, and also typically host a mid-major as well as a fairly local FCS squad.
This is the year that five of ISU’s nine Big 12 games will be in Ames, including a very early conference showdown with Oklahoma on Sept. 15. The Cyclones do have tough back-to-back road trips to TCU on Sept. 29 and Oklahoma State on Oct. 6 before WVU comes to Jack Trice Stadium on Oct. 13 for a challenging three-week span. Iowa State enjoys an open date after entertaining West Virginia.
Kansas – (Home: Nicholls State, Rutgers, Oklahoma State, TCU, Iowa State, Texas; Away: Central Michigan, Baylor, West Virginia, Texas Tech, Kansas State, Oklahoma State)
The Jayhawks satisfy the Power 5 non-conference scheduling by seeking the lower end of the group. This year it is Rutgers, but then come home-and-homes with Boston College, Duke and Washington State. KU will go on the road to face mid-majors occasionally. A trip to Central Michigan this year will be followed in the future by games at Coastal Carolina and Houston.
Just four of Kansas’ first seven games are at home this year. It will spend much of the month of October on the road as an Oct. 6 trip to WVU and an Oct. 20 one to Texas Tech are wrapped around an open date.
Even Nicholls State, which was an FCS playoff team last year, figures to challenge the Jayhawks in 2018. KU is a likely underdog in its other 11 games.
Kansas comes to West Virginia for an Oct. 6 game, a week after hosting Oklahoma State in Lawrence. After their trip to Morgantown, the Jayhawks have an open date.
Kansas State – (Home: South Dakota, Mississippi State, UTSA, Texas, Oklahoma State, Kansas, Texas Tech; Away: WVU, Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU, Iowa State)
The Wildcats don’t leave Manhattan a whole lot this season. That’s typical of their non-conference scheduling, as they play just one non-league road game in the next five seasons. Vanderbilt, Stanford and Missouri are part of those future slates.
They do have a formidable non-conference foe in Mississippi State coming to Bill Snyder Family Stadium this year, and that’s one of seven games at home for K-State. Kansas State has to leave the Little Apple just twice in the season’s first eight weeks, but it does face daunting back-to-back trips to Oklahoma on Oct. 27 and TCU on Nov. 3.
KSU’s first road game of 2018 will be at West Virginia on Sept. 22, which is sandwiched by home games for the Wildcats against UTSA on Sept. 15 and Texas on Sept. 29.
Oklahoma – (Home: Florida Atlantic, UCLA, Army, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Kansas; Away: Iowa State, TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia; Neutral: Texas (Dallas))
The Sooners traditionally face a challenging non-conference fare, and this year is the same. Even the opener against FAU, which was 11-3 last year under first-year head coach Lane Kiffin, will not be a gimmie, and who knows what to expect in week two against UCLA with its new coach Chip Kelly.
OU will continue to face tough opponents in future years, as Tennessee, Nebraska, Michigan and LSU pop up on Oklahoma schedules in the future.
This year with four home games and the annual neutral site Red River Rivalry, Oklahoma has just one true road game (at Iowa State on Sept. 15) until late October. Three of the Sooners’ final six games are on the road, though, including a regular season finale at West Virginia on Friday, Nov. 23. OU hosts Kansas the Saturday prior, while WVU is at Oklahoma State that day.
Oklahoma State – (Home: Missouri State, South Alabama, Boise State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Texas, West Virginia; Away: Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor, Oklahoma, TCU)
The Cowboys are another team that won’t have to travel much. Their first four games, including all non-conference affairs, are in Stillwater, and OSU plays seven home games in all this year.
Boise State is traditionally one of the nation’s best mid-major football programs, but still Oklahoma State is the only Big 12 school not facing a Power 5 non-conference opponent this season. This year is a bit of unusual slate for the Cowboys, who face Oregon State and Arizona State in years to come.
With so many early season home games in 2018, the road schedule is backloaded for OSU. Three of its final four regular season contests are on the road, with West Virginia the only home game for the Pokes during that time. WVU goes to Stillwater on Nov. 17 and is bracketed by Cowboy trips to Oklahoma on Nov. 10 and to TCU on Nov. 24.
TCU – (Home: Southern, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Kansas State, Oklahoma State; Away: SMU, Texas, Kansas, West Virginia, Baylor; Neutral: Ohio State (Arlington))
The Horned Frogs have taken the approach of scheduling one Power 5 non-conference opponent per year, and they’ve got that list completed for the next 13 seasons with the likes of Purdue, Cal, Colorado, Stanford, North Carolina and Duke. But it doesn’t get any tough than this season, as Ohio State comes to Arlington to face TCU in the Dallas Cowboys’ AT&T Stadium. The Frogs’ other non-conference games this season include an opener on Sept. 1 against FCS foe Southern as well as a cross DFW jaunt to SMU on Sept. 7.
Those non-conference games in the Metroplex are part of a trend for the Horned Frogs, who only travel outside the state of Texas twice this season – to Kansas on Oct. 27 and to West Virginia on Nov. 10. Every other TCU game in 2018 is within a three-hour drive of its Fort Worth campus. It only leaves DFW once in first seven games, as its longest trip prior to the journey to Lawrence is a bus ride down I-35 to the University of Texas on Sept. 29.
TCU’s road trip to West Virginia on Nov. 10 is surrounded by a game against K-State in Fort Worth on Nov. 3 and then a short drive to Baylor on Nov. 17.
Texas – (Home: Tulsa, USC, TCU, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State; Away: Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas; Neutral: Maryland (Landover), Oklahoma (Dallas))
The Longhorns are the only other Big 12 team besides WVU to face two Power 5 non-conference opponents this year, as Texas opens the season on Sept. 1 at FedEx Field in Landover against Maryland and then hosts USC on Sept. 15. In between, UT also entertains Tulsa.
Unlike WVU, which faces two Power 5 non-conference foes each season through at least 2024, this is the only year currently on the books that Texas is attempting the double P5. It does have a single quality non-conference opponent slated for the next 10 years, though, with the likes of LSU, Arkansas, Alabama, Michigan and Ohio State appearing on future schedules.
As for this year, the Longhorns have just two true road games in the first eight weeks (at Maryland on Sept. 1 and at Kansas State on Sept. 29), but that means they will travel a lot in their final five games, as three will be away from Austin. WVU does meet Texas at DKR Memorial Stadium on Nov. 3, with a tough road trip to Oklahoma State on tap for UT the week prior (Oct. 27) and then another travel date to Texas Tech the week after (Nov. 10).
Texas Tech – (Home: Lamar, Houston, West Virginia, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas; Away: Oklahoma State, TCU, Iowa State, Kansas State, Baylor; Neutral: Mississippi (Houston), Baylor (Arlington))
The Red Raiders’ scheduling philosophy is similar to that of most other Big 12 football program, as they typically face one non-conference Power 5 opponent each year. Arizona, N.C. State, Oregon, Oregon State and Mississippi State highlight future TTU schedules.
This season Tech’s challenge will come right off the bat, as the Red Raiders meet Mississippi in the season opener on Sept. 1 in Houston. That is followed by non-conference game against Lamar on Sept. 8 and against Houston on Sept. 15, both in Lubbock.
Tech jumps into Big 12 action on Sept. 22 with a trip to Oklahoma State, and then hosts West Virginia on Sept. 29 before the Raiders get an open date on Oct. 6.
West Virginia – (Home: Youngtown State, Kansas State, Kansas, Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma; Away: N.C. State, Texas Tech, Iowa State, Texas, Oklahoma State; Neutral: Tennessee (Charlotte))
The Mountaineers face a non-conference challenge this year and over the next seven seasons that only one other college football team is undertaking. WVU is slated to face 11 Power 5 opponents in its 12-game schedule each season through at least 2024, which is as far out as West Virginia’s schedule is completed. Nine Big 12 games and two more against non-conference P5 foes leave WVU with just one other available date, which the Mountaineers are typically filling by hosting an FCS club.
Only USC has a similar daunting schedule in the future, pairing nine Pac-12 games with two Power 5 non-conference ones for the next four years. Purdue also does it six times in the next 11 year, but no others are doing what WVU and USC are attempting in terms of schedules.
West Virginia does have the advantage this year of not having any back-to-back road games, as the pattern of road-home, road-home starts with the Sept. 1 opener against Tennessee in Charlotte and goes through the regular season finale at home against Oklahoma. The Mountaineers may not have many breathers in the first two-thirds of the season, but the closing stretch is especially difficult, as they travel to Texas on Nov. 3, host TCU on Nov. 10, go back on the road to Oklahoma State on Nov. 17, and then have a short week to get ready for the Sooners, who come to Morgantown the day after Thanksgiving – Friday, Nov. 23.