The Big 12 has been criticized for the lack of marquee out of conference match-ups since the introduction of the BCS into college football. Since the regular season of college football is more important to the placement of each team into the postseason, scheduling hard out of conference teams really doesn't make much sense.
Here are my rankings and tiers of the Big 12's 2013 out of conference match-ups.
You've Got To Be Kidding Me Tier:
1. Baylor- The worst offender of them all. The Bears have three non AQ teams that all travel to Waco for their first three games of the season. First up is Wofford. The FCS Wofford Terriers are actually a pretty decent FCS squad and won nine games in 2012, but anytime an FCS team plays a Big 12 team at home, they're going to be incredibly overmatched. Their second game is against Mid American Conference member Buffalo. The Bulls went 4-8 in 2012, including blowout losses to Georgia and Northern Illinois. The Bears gain a little bit of respect back by playing Louisiana Monroe, a bowl team from 2012 who won eight games including a win over then #8 Arkansas. Three home games against an FCS team, a losing non AQ team and a decent non AQ team doesn't cut it though.
2. Kansas State- The Wildcats have had some decent non-conference games against teams like Miami (FL) and UCLA, but this year is different. Kansas State and the fighting Bill Snyder's play all of their games in Manhattan and they're all against non AQ teams. The Wildcats start off with North Dakota State, who actually won the FCS national championship and 14 games last year. Despite the Bison being a good FCS team, they still shouldn't have any kind of shot beating the Wildcats. Next up for Kansas State is Louisiana Lafayette, a nine win team from 2012. The Ragin' Cajuns could actually be a decent match up for the Wildcats with Junior quarterback Terrance Broadway and one of his top receiving targets come back after a good offensive year last year. Lastly, Massachusetts travels to Manhattan after an abysmal 1-11 season in 2013. It's safe to say that the Wildcats won't be very worried about losing any of these games this Fall.
Now We're Getting Somewhere Tier
3. Kansas- The Jayhawks didn't schedule a non conference AQ team in 2013, but they are playing one away game in OOC. Kansas starts with FCS opponent South Dakota. The Coyotes won only one game last year including blowout losses to Northwestern, North Dakota State and Indiana State. South Dakota was one of the worst FCS teams in the league last year and will be no threat at all to the Jayhawks. Next up, the Jayhawks travel to Houston to face Rice. Rice finished above .500 last year at 7-6 and return their top passer (Taylor McHargue), rusher (Charles Ross) and receiver (Jordan Taylor) for 2013. This could be a dangerous game for Charlie Weis and the Jayhawks as they visit an experienced Rice team for a night game in Houston. Lastly, Kansas faces Louisiana Tech in Lawerence. The Bulldogs had a great season last year with nine wins as former quarterback Colby Cameron broke tons of offensive records and guided the Bulldogs to become the nations leading scoring team in 2012. Louisiana Tech loses Cameron as well as leading receivers Quinton Patton and Myles White. This could be a decent match up, but I'd expect Kansas to beat a young and inexperienced Louisiana Tech team in 2013.
4. Texas Tech- Kliff Kingsbury's introduction as a head coach at a BCS conference school could be a rough one if the Red Raiders don't bring their "A" game. The Red Raiders start the 2013 season on the road in Dallas against a June Jones coached SMU team that won seven games in 2013. The Mustangs return signal caller Garrett Gilbert, but lost leading receiver Darius Johnson and leading rusher Zach Line from 2012. Despite the Mustangs losing their best talent, this is still the typical trap game on a Thursday night to begin the season. The Red Raiders return to Lubbock to host Stephen F. Austin, an FCS team who won just five games in 2012. The Lumberjacks will be no match for Texas Tech in Lubbock. Then, the Red Raiders host Texas State for their final non conference game. The Bobcats travel to Lubbock the week after Texas Tech hosts TCU on a Thursday night. Texas Tech should easily win this game but depending on how the TCU game goes, this could be a tougher test than many think.
5. West Virginia- The Mountaineers start their season off in Morgantown against FCS William and Mary, a team who won only two games in 2012. Next, they host another FCS team in Georgia State a week after traveling to Norman and playing Oklahoma. Georgia State won just one game in 2012 and don't look to be much better heading into the 2013 season. Thankfully, the Mountaineers gain a little respect back by playing an away game against Atlantic Coast Conference (and future Big Ten conference) member Maryland. Although the Terrapins had a down year in 2012 where they won just four games, they return leading passer Perry Hillis, rusher Brandon Ross and receiver Stefon Diggs (all of whom were Freshman last year). Maryland should be much improved this year and could challenge a West Virginia team who is depleted of most of their offensive talent due to the 2013 NFL draft.
6. Iowa State. The Cyclones have a pretty decent array of non conference opponents for the 2013 season. Their first though, FCS Northern Iowa, won only five games in 2012. This should be a tune up game for Iowa State before they host in state rival Iowa. The Hawkeyes are looking to bounce back from a four win season in 2012 and return leading rusher Mark Weisman and leading receiver Kevonte Martin-Manley. The Cy-Hawk series is always a heated one and I think this could be a very good game and could catapult the winner to a good season. Lastly, the Cyclones travel to Tulsa, Oklahoma to take on the Golden Hurricane. Tulsa has been a very competitive team the last five to six years and they will compete to win the Conference USA in 2013. This could be a trap game for the Cyclones and they may have a tough time escaping Tulsa with the win.
Leading The Pack Tier
7. Oklahoma State- The Cowboys start the 2013 season off with a marquee game against SEC member Mississippi State in Stillwater. The Bulldogs won eight games last season and return leading passer Tyler Russell and 1000+ yard rusher LaDarius Perkins. They do however lose their top two receivers Chad Bumphis and Chris Smith. After playing a tough game against Mississippi State to start the season, the Cowboys then travel to San Antonio to take on a rising program in the University of Texas-San Antonio. The Roadrunners won eight games in 2012 and are hoping to make a bowl game in their first year eligible to do so. UTSA quarterback Eric Soza will have leading receivers Evans Okotcha and Kam Jones returning and will give him two good receiving targets. Look for Oklahoma State to win this game, but it may not be as easy as many think. Finally, the Cowboys host Lamar on September 14th. Lamar won just four games in 2012 and will be completely outmatched in this game. Basically, the Cowboys have one tough home game, a road game against a decent UTSA team and a home game against a bad Lamar team.
8. Texas- The Longhorns have a good slate of teams that could challenge them in 2013. First is their easiest game against New Mexico State who won just one game in 2012. This should be a tune up game before facing BYU on September 7th. They travel to Provo to take on a good, but inexperienced Cougars team. The Longhorns won the last meeting between the two teams in 2011 by a score of 17-16. After battling the Cougars, Texas hosts Ole Miss on September 14th. The Longhorns beat Ole Miss 66-31 in Oxford last year but Ole Miss should have an improved defense after a great recruiting class in 2013 including the #1 overall recruit according to Rivals.com, DE Robert Ndkemdiche.
t9. TCU- The Horned Frogs have the biggest week one match up in the whole Big 12 when they meeet LSU in Jerryworld on August 31st. With Devonte Fields suspended for the first two games, TCU will have a very tough time beating the Bayou Bengals. After the LSU game, TCU gets a break playing FCS Southeast Louisiana in Fort Worth. After this tune up game, TCU plays their arch-rival SMU at Amon G. Carter stadium in Fort Worth. SMU will be coming off of tough games against Texas Tech and Texas A&M and will probably be starving for a win and you never know what can happen in a rivalry game.
t9. Oklahoma- The Sooners open up the 2013 season by hosting Louisiana-Monroe. The Warhawks and star quarterback Kolton Browning may not have much of a chance pulling out a win in Norman, but they're no pushovers either after winning eight games in 2012. The next non conference game for Oklahoma is against in state program Tulsa. Tulsa, a team who won 11 games last year could put up a fight against an inexperienced Sooner team in 2013. Finally, the Sooners travel to South Bend to take on most likely a top 10 Notre Dame team. With the recent news of ND quarterback Everett Golson suspended for the season, Oklahoma probably has a much better shot at knocking off ND but will still need a lot to go right in order to pull off the win in a tough environment.
There are really only two marquee non conference match ups in the Big 12 in 2013: #17 OU @ #10 Notre Dame and #18 TCU vs #16 LSU (COwboys Stadium). After that, there are some good OOC rivalries and games like #18 TCU vs SMU, Texas Tech @ SMU, Iowa @ Iowa State, Texas @ BYU, Ole Miss @ Texas, West Virginia @ Maryland and Mississippi State @ Oklahoma State.
Predictions for 2013 Big 12 non conference games?