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Oklahoma is in the middle of a home-and-home series with Notre Dame, the kind of nonleague matchup some other Big 12 teams tend to duck.


MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — The Big 12 was mighty proud that nine teams participated in bowl games last season, and some of its coaches claimed the nine-game round-robin is a tougher slate than teams face in the divisioned superconferences.

But football programs and their reputations cannot live by conference games alone, and that’s why it’s a shame some Big 12 teams are trotting out nonleague opponents that don’t warrant watching from the couch much less battling stadium traffic.

Sure, many major-college teams are guilty of feasting on cupcakes, but season ticket-buyers have a reasonable expectation to see their school play at least one sexy intersectional matchup per season. Anything less is downright unsportsmanlike, and in the case of the Big 12—which lacks the year-end splash of a conference championship game—it potentially undermines the perception of league’s strength.

With an eye toward this fall’s opponents and those of upcoming seasons, let’s call out the Big 12 teams most guilty of padding their win totals and laud the ones willing to play real competition in September:

Check out the nonleague “tests”—if that term even qualifies—awaiting Baylor the next eight seasons:

2013: Wofford, Buffalo, La.-Monroe
2014: SMU, Northwestern State, at Buffalo
2015: at SMU, Lamar, Rice
2016: Northwestern State, SMU, at Rice
2017: at SMU, Texas-San Antonio, Duke
2018: at Texas-San Antonio, at Duke, SMU
2019: at SMU, Texas-San Antonio, at Rice
2020: Liberty, at SMU and TBA

Over an eight-year span, Baylor has five games against FCS teams and only two against a team (Duke) from the “power five” conferences. The highlight is freaking Duke. That’s paltry. (2013 grade: F … Long-term: F).

Don’t snicker, Kansas fans. Your team’s only brushes with power-5 opponents over the next six seasons involve a trip to mighty Duke in 2014 and a home-and-home with Rutgers in 2015-16. This year’s mix—South Dakota, Rice and Louisiana Tech—lacks heavy-hitters, though Tech may be favored against the Jayhawks. (2013 grade: F … Long-term: D-minus)

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Texas Tech fans are used to seeing their team walk over inferior nonconference teams, such as this 44-6 beatdown of Northwestern State last season.

Kansas State gets kudos for a home date against Auburn in 2014 but loses points for canceling a home-and-home against Virginia Tech. What’s left for Wildcats fans to look forward to as Bill Snyder creeps toward retirement? How about the murderers’ row of Charlotte, Central Arkansas, Bowling Green, South Dakota, Stephen F. Austin and a three-game set against Texas-San Antonio. This fall’s lineup brings Louisiana-Lafayette and UMass to Manhattan, along with North Dakota State—the defending FCS champion, but come on now. (2013 grade: F … Long-term grade: D-minus)

Texas Tech fans should rejoice over the recently contracted Arkansas series that begins in 2014, which will represent the Red Raiders’ first regular-season matchup against a team from a BCS conference since—wait for it—2003. Not much to excite fans about this year’s slate of SMU, Stephen F. Austin and Texas State. (2013 grade: F … Long-term grade: D)

Iowa State is bailed out by its annual rivalry game against Iowa, though the Hawkeyes barely qualify as a power-conference team many years. This fall the Cyclones visit Tulsa, which could be tricky, and host Northern Iowa—a team that pops up seven times in the next 11 seasons. Between now and 2023, there are home-and-homes with Toledo, Akron, San Jose State and UNLV. I nearly fell asleep typing that paragraph. (2013 grade: C … Long-term grade: C-minus)

A scheduling flap at Oklahoma State led Mike Gundy to flirt with the Tennessee gig. (Gundy reportedly didn’t like his athletics director piling too much meat onto OSU’s nonleague plate.) As it stands, the Cowboys still aren’t biting off too much—with only four power programs appearing over the next nine seasons. Those include neutral-site games against Mississippi State and Florida State and a home-and-home with Boise State in 2018 and 2021. Will the Broncos still be relevant by then? Along with MSU, this year’s mix includes Texas-San Antonio and Lamar. (2013 grade: C-plus … Long-term grade: D-plus)

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West Virginia’s series with Maryland has lost some luster because of the Terps’ struggles.

West Virginia receives only partial credit for the Maryland series, considering the Terps are more Duke-like than Clemson-like and have only one Top 25 finish in the past eight years. The other two opponents this fall are FCS member William & Mary and FBS newcomer Georgia State, which got drilled by William & Mary last year. Future matchups against Alabama (2014) and BYU (2016) are more like it, and fans are already practicing insults for the two-game set against Virginia Tech in 2021-22. As of now, 2018 contains only East Carolina and 2019-2020 are wide open, so the long-term score could fluctuate dramatically. Let’s also hold up on the Penn State series, which hasn’t been finalized. (2013 grade: C-minus … Long-term grade: C-plus)

As a private institution with a small enrollment, TCU could schedule softies a la Baylor, and ’tis true the Frogs also play SMU annually in a game where the student sections heckle one another over the number of zeroes in their trust funds. But TCU also isn’t afraid to man-up and test itself, such as this season’s opener against LSU at Jerry World. Later come home-and-home series against Minnesota (2014-15), Arkansas (2016-17) and Ohio State (2018-19). (2013 grade: A … Long-term grade: B-plus)

You’d expect the richest football program in America to line up some serious heavyweight challengers and Texas has done so. This fall the Horns visit BYU and host Ole Miss (with a New Mexico State snack thrown in), and the next 10 seasons really bring some must-see games—four against Notre Dame, home-and-homes with USC, Ohio State and Cal, and single games against UCLA and Arkansas. (2013 grade: B-plus … Long-term grade: A)

Like its Red River rival, Oklahoma recognizes the need to play big-boy football, hence this year’s excursion to South Bend. (The Sooners also have home games against Louisiana-Monroe and Tulsa, so at least there’s no FCS fodder to brutalize.) In subsequent years, there are two-game sets versus Tennessee, Ohio State, LSU and, thank you sweet baby Jesus, a renewal of the Nebraska series in 2021-22.  (2013 grade: A … Long-term grade: A)

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  • Mossman

    Marshall is dumb and their fans smell funny.

    Oh,Oh, also Huntington looks like a good place to

    film the next season of the Walking Dead.


    Polarbear, the Marshall game was the cheapest buyout, NOT FSU. PLUS Maryland owed WVU because WVU let them out of a couple games previously for NO buyout, they were just rescheduled later, so I would think that Maryland would return the favor. FSU was dropped because they were the best OOC team, a probable loss, PERIOD


    Maxx, Luck will do what fills his pockets, the school, its reputation and competition do not matter. He deals dirty and will continue to do so. His buddy Holgorsen will run the football program into the ground, and Huggins will get sick of Luck's sleaze (THAT should tell you something about Luck!!)

  • Iggs

    How in any realm of sports intelligence did WVU not get an F-- (that is 2 minuses if there is such a low mark) in this article. If this speaks of your integrity as a reporter, there is none. Did O'Luck write this for you? Or did he just pay you well!

  • polarbear

    The reason we canceled the FSU game was that we went to Big 12 and play 9 conf games. We had to cancel a game, and FSU was the cheapest buyout. Remember the JMU game at FEDEX paid a cool 2 mil.

  • tw eagle

    i'd expect with the "strength of schedule" measuring stick used in the playoff selection
    process that the FCS and lower division
    schools will disappear from the D1 team
    schedules . . .
    my crystal ball says that there will be a new
    division formed in ncaa football . . .that those
    teams will start playing "preseason" games
    against the fcs schools - one excuse will be
    to restore the funding these schools lost when
    their "money" games were eliminated because of strength of schedule issues . . .
    i'd recommend that WVU and Marshall keep
    the monies used to schedule these games in the state of West Virginia . . .playing only WVIAC schools . . .

  • Matt

    I think judging non-conference schedules can be somewhat misleading unless you actually know the opponents and their history. K-state is a great example. The NDSU (2x fcs champion) has the past few years beat Minnesota 2x, KU 1x and Colorado State. Now lets agree that's not murders row of the FBS but still that's 3 BCS level teams that have fallen to them. Then there is UMass which based on their history should not be much trouble. The Louisiana-Lafayette game might be more of a challenge for these cats. That team is coming off of back to back 9-4 seasons with a loss to Florida last year 20-27. Though the names might say otherwise, if you looked deeper into each of the Big 12 team schedules you might find more fight than you were expectin. Though I will be the first to admit by name alone the Big 12 could use a schedule upgrade.

  • BigBadJohnHenry

    WVU gets a C- for W&M, Ga. St., and Maryland??? Allan, don't be a bogart, and share what you are smoking. That schedule should be a solid "F". You also fail to mention WVU breaking contracts with Florida State and Michigan State to schedule said patsies.
    You subtracted points from K-St. for canceling a series with Va Tech, so why not subtract points from WVU for canceling TWO serieses??? Don't be a Homer, Allan. Give WVU a true grade. An "F" for 2013 and a "D" for long term.

  • Brian

    I don't think it's legitimate to criticize Baylor and Kansas for their weak slate, since they have a long history of being in over their heads in conference. They need some easy wins most years. TCU's slate is what it is, because they had been at or near the top of their conference for a while, before joining the Big 12 and were looking for marquee games to earn more respect in the polls. Oklahoma and Texas are accustomed to doing well in conference games and contending for national championships, so they haven't needed to pad their schedules; quite the contrary, they have needed to make sure their schedules were strong enough to give them a chance to play for those national championships in the years they have won the conference.

    It really isn't hard to figure out the reasoning for most of these schedules.

  • BigDave

    The Blundering Herd are second class? When did they get promoted?

    • Herd 1

      Nothing like criticizing other schools to make yourself look better. What has happened to dignity, class, and respect?

      Best of luck for your upcoming season Marshall University as well as WVU.

      • Charleston,WV

        Well stated!

  • jlee

    Are you kidding me?! Giving WVU anything over an F- is cheating. W&M and Georgia State could barely beat Morgantown High School. Cheap journalism at its best and ruins the entire article. You had to have been a bonus by Ollie to write this.

  • Greg

    This type of scheduling seems to work well for the mighty SEC. Looks like everyone else is just following suit, right or wrong.

    • WVWho

      Looking at SEC* schedules they play schools like Oregon, Clemson,vatech,florida state, Miami. Looks like all cupcakes to me. The big 12 and big ten refuse to schedule the SEC* which I still don't understand. WVU had a good series with AU and LSU.

      • BigEerFull

        Tenn., Ole Miss, Arkansas, Alabama, LSU and Auburn?

  • CaptainQ

    I think when the new 'four team National Championship Playoff system' goes into full effect, including it's internal 'ranking system' based on strength of schedule, it's going to change the way major college football schedules are created. Winning games against the 'Roast Beef Techs', 'Whatamatta U's' and 'directional schools' will count a lot less in future years. To their credit, at least the Mountaineers are attempting to 'beef up' their future schedules.

  • WV07

    Allan, great article.Thank you for your work.

  • Maxxajay

    I think mr. Luck will do away with the cup-cakes teams and line up big time schools..starting next year it will be the how strong the schedule is from year to year not all just wins likes it is now... Super conference teams will need to play each other to be in the top four to play for the championship ...Happy hunting Mr. Luck