Outside perspectives on Big 12 schedules

June, 21, 2012
6/21/12
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I unveiled my rankings of the Big 12 nonconference schedules earlier this offseason, and one thing was clear: The league's scheduling out of conference this year is pretty awful, to put it mildly.

CBSSports' Bruce Feldman released his rankings of the top 10 easiest schedules in college football, and guess who checked in at No. 1?
1. Texas Tech: The Red Raiders are coming off a dismal 2011, but should get off to a 3-0 start (they did open 4-0 last fall). They begin with FCS Northwestern State, who they essentially swapped on the schedule in place of Nevada, which has won 20 games the past two seasons. In Week 2, the Red Raiders visit Texas State, who Tech beat 50-10 last year. TSU is now in the WAC after going 6-6 at the FCS level last year and losing to its two FBS opponents by a combined score of 95-20. Then Bob Davie's New Mexico Lobos visit Lubbock. The Lobos have won three games combined the past three seasons and they're probably the closest thing to a test in the nonconference for Tech.

Tech's nonconference schedule is indeed an embarrassment, but Baylor checked in at No. 5 on Feldman's list, with SMU headlining a schedule that also features FCS Sam Houston State and struggling Sun Belt member Louisiana-Monroe.

The Big 12 wasn't done. West Virginia made it to No. 6 on that list for scheduling James Madison and an awful Maryland team, along with in-state rival Marshall.

That gave the 10-team Big 12 three teams on the list.

The Oklahoman's Berry Tramel also ranked each of the 68 major conference schedules, which obviously included the Big 12.

Not a single Big 12 team made the top 25. My pick for the Big 12's toughest schedule was the same as Tramel's: Oklahoma. The Sooners didn't make an appearance on the list until No. 27 for scheduling Notre Dame, UTEP and Florida A&M.

Here's where the rest of the Big 12 checked in.
  • 29. Iowa State: Tulsa, at Iowa, Western Illinois
  • 31. Kansas State: Missouri State, Miami, North Texas
  • 38. TCU: Grambling State, Virginia, at SMU
  • 51. Texas: Wyoming, New Mexico, at Ole Miss
  • 52. Oklahoma State: Savannah State, at Arizona, Louisiana-Lafayette
  • 56. West Virginia: Marshall; James Madison at Landover, Md.; Maryland
  • 63. Baylor: SMU, Sam Houston State, at Louisiana-Monroe.
  • 66. Kansas: South Dakota State, Rice, at Northern Illinois
  • 68. Texas Tech: Northwestern State (La.), at Texas State, New Mexico

No big qualms about any of those picks. Feldman and Tramel disagree on Kansas and West Virginia, but they're both pretty rough schedule.

The Big 12 has 30 nonconference games between 10 total teams, and seven of those are against teams from major conferences (including the Big East!). That's awful.

I get it. Moving to nine conference games means things are going to be tougher for teams in the Big 12, especially those trying to scrape for bowl games. Still, though, for the league as a whole, this is embarrassing. The Pac-12 plays nine games and it had seven members in the top 25 of the toughest schedules.

Eight of the 10 members are in the bottom half of college football's top teams when it comes to nonconference schedules.

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