A quick look at the evolution of the Big 12 in the last two years:
From lost cause, the 11th hour save, to an uneasy marriage of 10, to an iron-clad Grant of Rights, to not being bullied back into a championship game, to staying at 10 teams, thank you, to, inevitably, a weaker non-conference schedule.
It’s simple math. When you go from four non-con games to three, the eventual loser isn’t the teams. It’s the fans.
Frankly, with the depth of the Big 12, every team needs wins. That means every team softens the non-con schedule. There are those who annually do it the right way (Oklahoma and Texas), but for the most part, many are looking for an easy win.
A breakdown of the Big 12 non-conference schedule, leading into next week’s Power 5 conferences total breakdown:
From first to worst
1. West Virginia: Alabama (Atlanta), Towson, at Maryland
2. Texas: North Texas, BYU, UCLA
3. Kansas State: Stephen F. Austin, Auburn, UTEP
4. Oklahoma State: Florida State (Houston), Missouri State, UTSA
5. Oklahoma: Louisiana Tech, at Tulsa, Tennessee
6. Iowa State: North Dakota State, at Iowa, Toledo
7. TCU: Samford, Minnesota, at SMU
8. Texas Tech: Central Arkansas, at UTEP, Arkansas
9. Kansas: SE Missouri State, at Duke, Central Michigan
10. Baylor: SMU, Northwestern State, at Buffalo
Games against Power 5 teams: 10 of 30 (33 percent)
Games against Group of 5 teams: 12 of 30 (40 percent)
Games against FCS teams: 8 of 30 (27 percent)
Keeping score (five of five Power 5 conferences analyzed):
Games against Power 5 teams: Big 12 (33 percent); Big Ten (30 percent); ACC (30 percent); Pac-12 (30 percent); SEC (20 percent)
Games against Group of 5 teams: SEC (55 percent); Big Ten (52 percent); Pac-12 (48 percent); ACC (45 percent); Big 12 (40 percent)
Games against FCS teams: Big 12 (27 percent); ACC (25 percent), SEC (25 percent); Pac-12 (22 percent); Big Ten (18 percent)
Five best games
1. Auburn at Kansas State
2. Oklahoma State vs. Florida State
3. West Virginia vs. Alabama
4. Tennessee at Oklahoma
5. Arkansas at Texas Tech
Five worst games
1. Northwestern State at Baylor
2. Central Arkansas at Texas Tech
3. Towson at West Virginia
4. Missouri State at Oklahoma State
5. Samford at TCU
-- Defending Big 12 champion Baylor will open a new $200-plus million stadium this fall, and will bring non-con games against SMU and Northwestern State. To finish off the disappointment, Baylor travels to Buffalo to complete the non-con slate. That Buffalo game might be the oddest non-conference game in all of college football. Right next to Northwestern State. If you can find Northwestern State. Fortunately, Baylor follows up in 2015 with SMU, Lamar and Rice, and in 2016 with Northwestern State (a hint: Louisiana), SMU and Rice. Riveting stuff.
-- Here’s how non-con scheduling is done: One strong Power 5 team, one solid Group of 5 team, one lower level Group of five team. Oklahoma, of course, has this thing figured out this season (Tennessee, Tulsa, Louisiana Tech) and for the foreseeable future: 2015 (Tennessee, Tulsa, Akron), 2016 (Ohio State, Louisiana-Monroe), 2017 (Ohio State, UTEP) and 2018-19 (UCLA). It’s not that difficult to comprehend, everyone.
-- The Big 12 plays only 10 games against Power 5 teams this fall, but there’s not a bad game in the bunch. It begins with the aforementioned five best games, and includes these gems: West Virginia at Maryland (rivalry game), Iowa State at Iowa (rivalry game), Improving Minnesota at TCU, Arkansas at Texas Tech (old Southwest Conference rivals) and Kansas at Duke (Charlie Weis vs. the athletic director that hired him at Notre Dame, Kevin White).