Berry Tramel: Ranking the Big 12 football non-conference schedules (2024)

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Pay attention to the Big 12 football standings this season. Literally. Pay attention.

Use multiple sources. Double check the numbers. You’re going to see some mistakes.

Arizona and Utah, along with Colorado and Arizona State, join the Big 12 on July 1.

On Sept. 7, Baylor plays at Utah. Six days later, Arizona plays at Kansas State. Baylor and K-State remain proud Big 12 members. But those games are not conference games.

Massive conference realignment has sent athletic departments scrambling to fill schedules, especially in the 2024 season.

And one tonic has been retaining games scheduled as non-conference affairs that suddenly have become matchups of conference brothers.

Berry Tramel: Ranking the Big 12 football non-conference schedules (3)

Utah went to Baylor last season (the Utes won 20-13), part of a two-game contract. The schools decided to keep the return game in 2024, so the Baylor-Utah game will have no impact on the Big 12 standings.

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Kansas State-Arizona was even stranger. Their two-game series was to begin this season. The schools petitioned the Big 12 to not schedule them against each other for either the 2024 or 2025 season, so they could keep their contract as a non-conference series. Again, strange.

Some even suggested a balm for KSU and ‘Zona. With Oregon State’s and Washington State’s schedules thrown into chaos with the demise of the Pac-12 and no landing spot for either the Beavers or the Cougars, why not have K-State and Arizona instead schedule home-and-home series with Oregon State and WSU? But no.

So the Utah-Baylor winner will not lead the Big 12 standings. The loser will not drop to last place. Same with Arizona-KSU. Both games will have all the impact of Slippery Rock-Shippensburg on the Big 12 schedule.

The new-look Big 12 still is adjusting to its scheduling philosophy, but some things remain the same.

West Virginia is committed to a throwback schedule of quality.

Big 12 teams aren’t adverse to playing road games at mid-majors. OSU at Tulsa, Kansas State at Tulane, Utah at Utah State, Brigham Young at Wyoming, Colorado at Colorado State, Arizona State at Texas State, Cincinnati at Miami-Ohio and Texas Tech at Washington State, which will play as an independent this year.

That’s practically half the conference, playing road games against teams outside the power-league structure. The Southeastern Conference is playing seven true road games total this season!

The SEC accurately touts its prowess as a league with vipers awaiting around each corner, but the SEC gives back some of that high ground with its non-conference scheduling.

The Big 12 is playing 37.5 percent (18 of 48 games) of its non-conference games against fellow power-conference opponents. The SEC is playing 31.25 percent.

The Big 12 is playing 62.5 percent (30 of 48) of its non-conference games at home. The SEC is playing 84.4 percent of its non-conference games at home, plus three other neutral-site games.

Anyway, our series of ranking each power conference non-conference schedule continues today with the Big 12. Here’s how they rank:

Berry Tramel: Ranking the Big 12 football non-conference schedules (4)

1. West Virginia: Penn State, Albany, at Pittsburgh. Excellent schedule. An old Eastern Independent grudge match with the Nittany Lions, plus the Backyard Brawl vs. Pitt.

2. Houston: Nevada-Las Vegas, at Oklahoma, Rice. Hey, no Division I-AA opponent for the Cougars, plus a trip to Owen Field. Quite impressive.

3. Kansas State: Tennessee-Martin, at Tulane, Arizona. Nothing easy about playing Tulane these days, plus the ‘Zona game.

4. Baylor: Tarleton, at Utah, Air Force. Going to Salt Lake City, and also signing up for the Air Force option attack. Brave, Bears.

5. Texas Christian: at Stanford, Long Island, at Southern Methodist. Remember, SMU now is a power-conference team, and most predictions have the Mustangs landing in the upper half of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

6. Iowa State: North Dakota, at Iowa, Arkansas State. Cyclones’ schedule rarely varies. Strong I-AA opponent, the CyHawk game, a decent mid-major.

7. Arizona: New Mexico, Northern Arizona, at Kansas State. Nobody asked me, but it’s possible that Arizona and Kansas State could tie for second place in the Big 12, and if so, the tiebreaker to determine who goes to Arlington would not be who won the Arizona-KSU game.

8. Central Florida: New Hampshire, Sam Houston, at Florida. Huge game in Gainesville for the Knights. UCF already has made great strides but could make more.

9. Colorado: North Dakota State, at Nebraska, at Colorado State. The Buffaloes seem willing to play about anybody anywhere, and that includes the opener against the I-AA power Bison.

10. Brigham Young: Southern Illinois, at Southern Methodist, at Wyoming. Too bad the Cougars couldn’t replace Wyoming with Southern Mississippi. Or Southern Cal.

11. Arizona State: Wyoming, Mississippi State, at Texas State. The Sun Devils in San Marcos. That sounds cool.

12. Oklahoma State: South Dakota State, Arkansas, at Tulsa. Razorbacks and Golden Hurricane both on the schedule. Talk about a throwback.

13. Kansas: Lindenwood, at Illinois, Nevada-Las Vegas. Can we learn much about the vaunted Jayhawks against this schedule?

14. Cincinnati: Towson, Pittsburgh, at Miami-Ohio. The Bearcats last season won at Pitt, then lost at home to Miami-Ohio.

15. Utah: Southern Utah, Baylor, at Utah State. Give the Utes credit for going to Logan and keeping the Utah State series alive.

16. Texas Tech: Abilene Christian, at Washington State, North Texas. Tech’s 1992 non-conference schedule consisted of OU, Oregon, North Carolina State and Wyoming. Don’t tell me college football is better than ever.

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