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Thursday, February 25, 2010
The Big 12's toughest in 2010

By Chris Low

The Big 12 has compiled a 44-46 record (.489) in all nonconference games, including bowls, against BCS teams over the last five years.

That places the Big 12 fourth among the BCS conferences. The SEC was first (59-45, .567 ), Pac-10 second (45-37, .549 ), Big East third (49-49, .500), ACC fifth (61-70, .466) and Big Ten sixth (46-56, .451) during that span.

Who plays the toughest nonconference schedule in the Big 12 in 2010?

We’ll wait a little closer to the season before rating the entire schedule, but here’s a look at the 10 toughest nonconference games involving Big 12 teams next season:

1. Florida State at Oklahoma, Sept. 11: The Sooners played the nation’s second most challenging schedule last season. They get a Florida State team the second week of the season that should be able to score points with anybody in 2010 and will be improved on defense.

2. Baylor at TCU, Sept. 18: The Horned Frogs will be poised to make another run at a BCS bowl game in 2010 after finishing 12-1 a year ago. They have nine starters returning on offense and will again be rock-solid on defense.

3. Iowa State at Iowa, Sept. 11: Even though the Hawkeyes lost a lot on their offensive line, they are loaded at running back and receiver and will be one of the prime challengers to Ohio State for the Big Ten championship next season.

4. Texas A&M vs. Arkansas, in Arlington, Texas, Oct. 9: Arkansas rolled it up on the Aggies 47-19 in last year’s inaugural Southwest Classic. The Hogs will be even better on offense next season with quarterback Ryan Mallett returning.

5. Georgia at Colorado, Oct. 2: By the time Colorado faces Georgia, the Bulldogs should be settled at quarterback. And whoever it is, he will be surrounded by 10 returning starters on offense, including running back Washaun Ealey and receiver A.J. Green.

6. Oklahoma at Cincinnati, Sept. 25: The Sooners face nine teams in 2010 who played in bowl games a year ago. The Bearcats have to replace some key components from their Sugar Bowl team a year ago, but first-year coach Butch Jones will have his club ready for this game.

7. Georgia Tech at Kansas, Sept. 11: Georgia Tech lost its leading rusher, leading receiver and top two defenders, but it’s never easy stopping that option offense, especially so early in the season.

8. Nebraska at Washington, Sept. 18: LSU found out a year ago how dangerous Washington quarterback Jake Locker is throwing the football. Well, he’s back, and the Huskies should be better all the way around in Year No. 2 under Steve Sarkisian.

9. Colorado at California, Sept. 11: At least the Buffs won’t have to deal with Jahvid Best, but Shane Vereen is more than capable as a runner. The Golden Bears are always a tough out at home.

10. UCLA at Texas, Sept. 25: The Bruins look to snap the Longhorns’ 19-game winning streak in nonconference, regular-season games. It’s tied for the nation’s second-longest active nonconference winning streak.