Tuesday, the Big 12 released its schedule for 2016.
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) November 24, 2015
Here are a few quick thoughts on the 2016 slate:
1. Backloaded no more: This year, the Big 12 wound up with a brutally backloaded schedule that included Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all playing one another over the final month. In two weeks, we'll know if that circumstance will pay off in the form of a playoff spot. But the Big 12 wisely made sure not to backload next season. Baylor and Oklahoma State meet on Sept. 24 in the Big 12 opener for both sides; TCU and Oklahoma play Oct. 1. With Bedlam entrenched as a regular-season finale, and the Big 12 wanting to give the Revivalry late-season attention, the conference had to move other games around to avoid another backloaded finish. This achieves that.
2. No brutal stretches: As a consequence of this year's backloaded schedule, West Virginia, Texas Tech and Kansas State all faced brutal stretches, most notably West Virginia, which had to face OU, OSU, Baylor and TCU in four straight games, three coming on the road. No team was slapped with such a gauntlet in 2016.
3. Big 12 openers key: OSU opens at Baylor on Sept. 24, while OU goes to TCU the following weekend in another conference opener for both sides. Those tilts could be tone-setters in the Big 12 title race.
4. Texas could be facing another rough start: The Longhorns get Notre Dame, go to Cal and Oklahoma State, before facing the Sooners in Dallas. With that schedule, Texas could be underdogs in four of its first five games in what could be a make-or-break season for Charlie Strong.
5. We'll find out about the Sooners fast: OU's first five games include at Houston, Ohio State, at TCU and the Red River Showdown. It won't take long to figure out if the Sooners are playoff contenders next year.
6. No rest for Tech, Texas and Kansas: Because they don't play on Dec. 3 and don't open conference play until Oct. 1, the Red Raiders, Longhorns and Jayhawks don't get an open week during the conference schedule. Ouch.
7. Sooners visit Ames on Thursday night: The weekend before playing host to Baylor, OU has to go to Iowa State on Nov. 3 for what could be a potential land-mine trip for the Sooners.
8. Bedlam back to Dec. 3: Bob Stoops petitioned the Big 12 to place Bedlam back on the final week of the regular season, to give both the Cowboys and Sooners a presence on the weekend the CFB selection committee puts out the rankings that actually count. This year, both Oklahoma schools are off next weekend, which isn't ideal considering final impressions might make a difference. The Big 12 listened.
9. Baylor-Texas Tech to Black Friday: I wonder if we'll see this rotate with the Texas Thanksgiving series moving forward. In other words, whoever between Tech and TCU is not playing Texas on Thanksgiving will face Baylor on Black Friday. I like this idea, bridging the years until Texas and Texas A&M start playing again.
10. Iowa State's next coach won't be easing in: The Cyclones need to do their best to hide the 2016 schedule from any coaching candidate they interview. Iowa State's next coach will open his Big 12 career at TCU, vs. Baylor, at Oklahoma State and at Texas. At least there's a bye between the Horned Frogs and Bears games. Still, the Cyclones' next head man better hit the ground in a full sprint.