Ranking the Hardest Big 12 Non-Conference Schedules

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Big 12 Non-Conference

The best way to measure one conference up against another is to look at non-conference. The 2022 Big 12 non-conference schedules are all over the place. The conference is the epicenter of the most change over the next few years. For the final time (hopefully), the Big 12 will be home to just 10 teams.

In this series, we will continue to look at each team’s out-of-conference slate and rank them based on difficulty. There are some teams who have serious gauntlets. Other teams have a cakewalk.

The Hardest Big 12 Non-Conference Schedules

Texas: vs UL-Monroe, vs Alabama, vs UTSA

Could 2022 be the year Texas returns? With the hardest of the Big 12 non-conference schedules, it’ll be difficult. Last year, the Longhorns finished with just five wins in Steve Sarkisian’s first season at the helm. This year, they have an exciting quarterback battle between Quinn Ewers and Hudson Card. Whoever wins will have plenty of talent to work with. Bijan Robinson is the truth and the duo of Isaiah Neyor and Xavier Worthy will be a handful for anyone.

UL-Monroe is a middle-of-the-pack Sun Belt team, finishing with just four wins last year. Former Ohio State and Akron wide receiver Boogie Knight (yes, legally, that’s his name) will be a weapon for the Warhawks to keep an eye on. UTSA may have lost Sincere McCormick, but they still have stud quarterback Frank Harris and his top trio of receivers who accounted for a whopping 73% of the team’s receiving yards.

Alabama will be a test, to put it lightly. Nick Saban’s Crimson Tide is a National Title favorite year in and year out. Bryce Young returns after winning the Heisman and is a popular 1.01 pick in the NFL Draft. Jahmyr Gibbs is going to break out in a massive way at running back. The Longhorns have a 7-1-1 record against Alabama all-time…but that one was a 37-21 victory in the 2010 BCS National Championship Game.

Texas Tech: vs Murray State (FCS), vs Houston, @ NC State

Last year, Tech swept its non-conference schedule despite nearly losing to Stephen F. Austin (FCS). Oregon transfer Tyler Shough was QB1 last year before getting injured. He will battle the team’s second-leading passer from last year, Donovan Smith. Smith took over as the team’s third starting quarterback and led the team in a win over Mississippi State in the Liberty Bowl.

One of those wins was at NRG Stadium (the Houston Texans stadium) against Houston. This year, Tech hosts a real home game against the Cougars and it won’t be as easy as it was. Houston looks like they could be the best Group of 5 team, their eyes set on unseating Cincinnati in their final season in the AAC. The duo of Clayton Tune and Nate Dell is as electric as any.

NC State is a dark horse pick to take the ACC out from under Clemson this year. Last year, the Wolfpack finished (9-3), losing two ACC contests by one and three points, respectively. Quarterback Devin Leary is the ACC preseason Player of the Year and is starting to gain first-round NFL Draft hype.

West Virginia: @ Pitt, vs Towson (FCS), @ Virginia Tech

At (6-7), the 2021 edition of the West Virginia Mountaineers disappointed. They destroyed Long Island (FCS) and upset a then-15th-ranked Virginia Tech after dropping the season opener to Maryland. JT Daniels transfers in from Georgia and is looking to finally get his career going after promising starts at both UGA and USC. Third time’s the charm?

Typically, rivalry games are in the final week of the regular season. For WVU, it’s Week 1! The Backyard Brawl returns for the first time since the death of the Big East. Pitt has lost a lot from last year’s ACC Championship team but this is a rivalry game; anything can happen! Currently, WVU has a three-game win streak but Pitt owns the overall record, 61-40-3.

West Virginia beat Virginia Tech last year, 27-21. However, this year, it’s in Blacksburg. The Hokies have one of the most electric atmospheres in the nation and will be led by former Marshall quarterback, Grant Wells. Wells was both the Freshman of the Year and First-Team All-Conference-USA quarterback in 2020.

Iowa State: vs Southeast Missouri (FCS), @ Iowa, vs Ohio

The Cyclones took a step back in 2021, finishing just (7-6) after winning nine games in 2020. They won two of their three non-conference games last year. One of which was a six-point squeaker against Northern Iowa (FCS). The most prolific quarterback in Cyclones history graduates, so it’ll be up to redshirt sophomore Hunter Dekkers to win the job over true freshman Rocco Becht or JUCO transfer, Nate Glantz.

The battle for the Cy-Hawk Trophy continues this year as ISU travels to Iowa City to face the Hawkeyes. Iowa has owned the rivalry, sporting a 46-22 record. ISU hasn’t beaten Iowa since 2014 when the Cyclones went into Kinnick Stadium and won, 20-17. Iowa is slated to be a top Big Ten West team this year, so they’ll have to earn it.

Ohio, on the other hand, was not good last year. The Bobcats seemingly couldn’t figure out its quarterback situation, their long-standing coach retired just a month before the season kicked off, and they just did not look good. They still finished third in the MAC East despite falling to Duquesne (FCS) and getting smacked in their other three non-conference matchups. O’Shaan Allison is a stud running back, though.

TCU: @ Colorado, vs Tarleton State (FCS), @ SMU

Finally, the “easiest” of the hardest Big 12 non-conference schedules belongs to the Horned Frogs of TCU. TCU also took a step back in 2021, winning just five games and just two of which were out-of-conference. Max Duggan returns but the offense lost Zach Evans to Ole Miss via The Portal.

Colorado and TCU, despite both being in the Big 12 at some point, have never played each other. When the Buffs left the conference, TCU filled the void. CU was a bottom-half Pac-12 team last year and lost its top running back via The Portal but expect Alex Fontenot to step right in.

SMU will be more difficult than expected. The Mustangs are home to one of the best offenses in the Group of 5, led by Tanner Mordecai yet again. It was a surprise that when the conference elected to poach AAC programs, they didn’t go for the one in their backyard. SMU will be out to prove that they should have been extended an invite.

10 of the Biggest 12 or Something

2022 will be our last look at the current Big 12 with 10 teams. Next year, Cincinnati, UCF, Houston, and BYU join the party before Texas and Oklahoma bolt in 2025.

Will one of the newbies win the conference while it sits at 14 teams? Which of the four will win it first?

For More:

Mid-American: EasiestHardest
Conference-USA: EasiestHardest
Mountain West: EasiestHardest
Sun Belt: EasiestHardest
American Athletic: EasiestHardest
Pac-12: EasiestHardest
Big 12: Easiest; Hardest
ACC: Easiest; Hardest
SEC: Easiest; Hardest
Big Ten: Easiest; Hardest

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