Big 12 Non-Conference Schedule: A Pastry Delight

Doug Pensinger

The quality match ups in the Big 12 non-conference schedule for 2013 are few and far between, and for most teams it won't get much better the rest of the decade.

Apparently the Big 12 round-robin conference schedule is tough enough that it has moved most members to create a non-conference slate that could pass as the undercard for the Pillsbury Bake Off.

Citing the unbalanced conference slate (5 home - 4 road games every other year) most Big 12 teams are looking for at least 2 out of league home contests every year.

For the Big 12 there are 30 non-conference games, 21 at home with 2 neural site contests (both in Texas) and 7 true road games.

Being charitable, you can say that 8 of the 30 are against opponents from BCS leagues - that's counting SMU's one-year return to the big boy club. The Mustangs, who play two Big 12 opponents, join the Big East , American Athletic Conference for its BCS farewell tour of 2013.

Meanwhile 12 of the non-conference games (40%) are against D-1AA teams or opponents just moving up to FBS. Eight Big 12 teams have a FCS opponents while Georgia State is moving up in 2013. Three other teams (Massachusetts, Texas State and UT-San Antonio) are just in their second season of D-1 action.

Here is a quick look at each team's non-conference schedule, with their 2012 records:

Baylor - Wofford (1-AA 9-4), Buffalo (4-8) Louisiana-Monroe (8-5 Independence Bowl)

Three home games, one respectable opponent. Louisiana-Monroe has played well on the road of late (they beat Arkansas and had Auburn on the ropes). Art Briles has decided that the Warhawks are as tough a non-con opponent as he cares to take on. The Bears schedule is set through 2019 and here are their out of conference opponents:

SMU, Duke, Rice, UTSA, Liberty, Northwestern State, Lamar, Buffalo, and those pesky Louisiana-Monroe Warhawks.

Iowa State - Northern Iowa (1-AA, 5-6), Iowa (4-8), @ Tulsa (11-3 Liberty Bowl)

The Cyclones will play Tulsa for the 3rd time in 13 months and have their annual game with in-state rival Iowa. This schedule is one of the better in the Big 12 as Tulsa won Conference USA last year and Northern Iowa is normally a power in 1-AA.

Northern Iowa and Iowa remain staples of the Cyclones schedule in years to come, with UNLV, Akron, Toledo and San Jose State making occasional appearances.

Kansas - South Dakota (1-AA, 1-10), @ Rice (7-6), La. Tech (9-3)

If the Jayhawks were just mediocre they might have a shot at a couple of wins, but they aren't so enjoy the Coyotes visit to open the season.

Rutgers is a BCS opponent showing up over the next few years on the Kansas schedule, otherwise it is marked with the usual suspects -- Memphis, Central Michigan, Ohio, Southeast Missouri State and Hawaii.

Kansas State - North Dakota State (1AA, 14-1), Louisiana-Lafayette (9-4, New Orleans Bowl), Massachusetts (1-11)

At first blush this has the look of the kind of schedule Bill Snyder fed off of for so many years, but it has a trap door at the start. That's the two-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State. The Bison return 9 all-conference players have two 1,000-yard rushers and are 6-3 against FBC opponents since 2006. It is the opening game for KSU and should be a real test.

Teams on the schedule in the near future for the Wildcats: South Dakota, Central Arkansas, UTSA, Stephen F. Austin, Charlotte, U Mass, and Auburn (WTF?)

Oklahoma State - Mississippi State-Reliant Stadium (8-5, Gator Bowl), @ UTSA (8-4), Lamar (1-AA, 4-8)

I'm thinking of making the Cowboys my Solid Gold, 5-Star, Dead Solid Lock of the Year!!!! pick over the Mississippi State.

The Bulldogs are the most overvalued team in the SEC and a great chance for the Cowboys to pick up some street cred early in the season. Mississippi State is 15-11 over the past two seasons with exactly two of those 15 wins coming against D-1 teams with winning records (La. Tech and Middle Tennessee State). They turned in a sullen, disinterested performance against Northwestern in their bowl game to end 2012.

My enthusiasm for the Cowboys in this game is tempered somewhat by the fact that Mississippi State returns most of its starters on the OL an DL as well as Quarterback Tyler Russell.

However, their pass rush was mediocre at best last season and they have 3 new starters in the defensive backfield, so I'll still take the Cowboys in the opener.

Oklahoma State has Florida State in Dallas to open 2014, but Mike Gundy is cutting that crap out as soon as possible. Future opponents will be littered with lots of directional schools, Central Arkansas, Central Michigan, South Alabama, and other usual suspects: Missouri State, Lamar, McNeese State, Rice, UTSA.

Boise State does show up later in the decade.

TCU - LSU-Dallas Cowboys Stadium (10-3, Peach Bowl), Southeastern Louisiana (1-AA, 5-6), SMU (7-6, Aloha Bowl)

The Horned Frogs have the marque game of the early season for the Big 12 in Jerry Jonesville. LSU has NFL talent scattered throughout the lineup, but they also still have Zach Mettenberger at QB. The Bengal Tigers are reworking their offensive line and that could be a problem in an early season game against a defense like TCU's.

The Horned Frogs still have several slots to fill with various Joe Palookas on future non-conference schedules, but they do have Minnesota, Arkansas and Ohio State later this decade.

Texas Tech - @ SMU (7-6, Aloha Bowl) Stephen F. Austin (1-AA, 5-6), Texas State (4-8)

The Red Raiders opening contest against June Jones and the SMU Mustangs may set the record for longest game in collegiate history. Kliff Kingsbury will no doubt match the Ponies pass for pass.

Kinsgbury learned well from his mentor Mike Leach, and will continue the cupcake scheduling in the near future. Stephen F. Austin, UTEP,UTSA and Central Arkansas make up most of the schedule. The Red Raiders do have a home-and-home with Arkansas beginning in 2014.

West Virginia - William & Mary (1-AA 2-9), Georgia State (1-10), Maryland (4-8)

What a laughable slate of games.

Three teams combined for a 7-27 record last year. A 1-AA team, a team just beginning to play D-1 football and a bottom feeder from the ACC (soon to be in the Big 10).

WVU has signed up to play Alabama in the Georgia Dome next year and has a neutral contest with BYU in its future. Otherwise it is a steady diet of Maryland, Towson, Liberty, East Carolina and TBA.

Finally the two teams in the league that don't have a 1-AA opponent on their schedule.

Oklahoma - Louisiana-Monroe (8-5, Independence Bowl), Tulsa (11-3, Liberty Bowl) @ Notre Dame (12-1 BCS championship game)

The Sooners face three teams that all reached bowls, and ended up with a combined 31-9 record. Not a murderer's row, but then again no cupcakes either.

OU will continue to have an attractive non-conference schedule the rest of the decade. The Sooners have home-and-home series with Tennessee, LSU, Ohio State and Nebraska. They also have Army for a 2-game series, which if nothing else should be a great road trip.

Texas - New Mexico State (1-11) @ BYU (8-5 Poinsettia Bowl) Mississippi (7-6) Compass Bowl

The Longhorns open with arguably the worst D-1 football program on the planet. Over the past 30 seasons New Mexico State is 89-255 for a sizzling winning percentage of 26%.

Business picks up quickly after that. A Road game at BYU will be a test, although the QB situation is still unsettled. The core of a solid defense returns, led by linebacker Kyle Van Noy.

Ole Miss rolls into Austin Sept. 14 with 18 starters back from last year along with a stunning freshman class. How quickly Hugh Freeze can assimilate a class led by Robert Nkemdiche into the returning vets will be the key to a successful season.

This game will be one of the few highlights of the Big 12 non-conference slate.

Texas is at least making an attempt to have a quality non-conference opponent yearly. Right now Notre Dame is on the schedule 4 times in the near future. Cal and USC are set for home-and-home series, along with Maryland, UTEP and Rice. Ohio State is further out on the schedule horizon.

College Football is scrapping the BCS for a playoff system in 2014, which supposedly will put an emphasis on strength of schedule. When it comes to non-conference action, aside from Texas and OU, most of the Big 12 conference didn't get the memo.

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