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Ranking the Big 12's Toughest Non-Conference College Football Schedules in 2019

Ranking the Big 12's Toughest Non-Conference College Football Schedules in 2019

Ranking the Big 12's Toughest Non-Conference College Football Schedules in 2019

The Big 12's round-robin schedule doesn't give its members much room to maneuver in setting up non-conference games. Most programs try to ensure they have one game against another opponent from a major conference and two matchups with teams from the FCS level and Group of 5 conferences. Generally, figuring out which teams play the toughest non-conference schedule comes down to the marquee name on the slate.

One Big 12 team has a heavyweight fight on its hands against an opponent from the SEC. Another is ducking major challengers to fatten up before the conference schedule kicks up. Otherwise, little separates most of the Big 12 programs' non-conference schedules in 2019.

1. Texas

Aug. 31 vs. Louisiana Tech

Sept. 7 vs. LSU

Sept. 14 vs. Rice (Houston)

The Longhorns' clash in the second week of the season against the LSU Tigers will command the attention of the college football world. A week later, UT gets a laugher at NRG Stadium against the Owls. Word to the wise: The Horns shouldn't sleep on the Bulldogs in their season opener.

2. West Virginia

Aug. 31 vs. James Madison

Sept. 7 at Missouri

Sept. 14 vs. NC State

Bummer of a way to start your tenure as head coach at WVU, Neal Brown. JMU is one of the top FCS programs around. After that, the Mountaineers have to travel to Mizzou and then host the always frisky NC State Wolfpack. No one in Morgantown wants to hear this, but an 0-3 start is potentially on the table.

3. Kansas State

Aug. 31 vs. Nicholls

Sept. 7 vs. Bowling Green

Sept. 14 at Mississippi State

After Mississippi State rolled KSU in Manhattan in 2018, the Bulldogs get a chance to pummel KSU in the friendly confines of their own stadium this season. Chris Klieman shouldn’t let his team coast through the Bowling Green game.

4. Iowa State

Aug. 31 vs. Northern Iowa

Sept. 14 vs. Iowa

Sept. 21 vs. ULM

The Cyclones' annual in-state rivalry game is the primary draw here. It's easy to forget ULM went 6-6 a year ago, however. And don't think FCS foe UNI won't be itching to shock the world and upset one of the power players in the state.

5. Oklahoma

Sept. 1 vs. Houston

Sept. 7 vs. South Dakota

Sept. 14 at UCLA

The Sooners have one of the sneakier non-conference games of the season in the Big 12 in week three when they travel to the Rose Bowl to take on UCLA. Coach Chip Kelly had the Bruins on an upswing to end his first season, and they look to be one of the most improved teams in the country this year. FCS opponent South Dakota is a walkover, but Houston could give OU trouble in Dana Holgorsen's first game as head coach of the Cougars.

6. TCU

Aug. 31 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff

Sept. 14 at Purdue

Sept. 21 vs. SMU

The Horned Frogs start off with a laugher, but their second game of the year is at Purdue, a program thought to be on the rise under head coach Jeff Brohm. TCU has an odd off week before the road trip to West Lafayette, however, which gives head coach Gary Patterson and his staff extra time to prepare for the Boilermakers. The crosstown rivalry with SMU picks up in week four.

7. Texas Tech

Aug. 31 vs. Montana State

Sept. 7 vs. UTEP

Sept. 14 at Arizona

Not a bad way for first-year head coach Matt Wells to ease into his tenure. The Red Raiders start with a layup against FCS opponent Montana State and a home game versus UTEP, one of the worst teams in the nation last season. Tech kicks it up a notch with a date at Arizona, but don't be shocked if the boys from Lubbock pull off an upset.

8. Oklahoma State

Aug. 30 at Oregon State

Sept. 7 vs. McNeese

Sept. 14 at Tulsa

The Cowboys enjoy the distinction of being the only Big 12 conference member to play two away games outside of the league this season. Athletic director Mike Holder may want to give more thought to his scheduling philosophy. Of course, playing at Tulsa is almost an OSU home game. Given how poor Oregon State has been in recent years, this looks like an easy slate of games for the Pokes.

9. Kansas

Aug. 31 vs. Indiana State

Sept. 7 vs. Coastal Carolina

Sept. 13 at Boston College

Kansas-Boston College doesn't rank very highly in terms of non-conference sex appeal — for good reason. KU is KU, and BC slogged through an unremarkable 7-5 season in 2018. New KU head coach Les Miles does have a decent shot at winning his first game with the Jayhawks against FCS foe Indiana State.

10. Baylor

Aug. 31 vs. Stephen F. Austin

Sept. 7 vs. UTSA

Sept. 21 at Rice

This looks like the Baylor of old: An FCS team and two mid-major teams that went a combined 5-20 a year ago. The Bears don't even have to leave the state of Texas in September. Art Briles couldn't be prouder of what the Baylor athletic department put together for 2019.

— Written by Allen Kenney, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Kenney is founder and editor of and host of the Blatant Homerism Podcast. Follow him on Twitter @BlatantHomerism.