Projecting the Big 12’s non-conference opponents
The Atlantic Coast Conference revealed its football schedule on Thursday, revealing each team’s one non-conference opponent for the 2020 season. Two of the league’s 15 teams, Clemson and North Carolina, have not yet scheduled their non-conference opponents. Of the remaining 13 teams, 11 scheduled opponents within the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS); Florida State and Virginia scheduled FCS teams Samford and VMI, respectively.
The other Power Five conference that is allowing non-conference games in 2020, the Big 12, has yet to release its schedule. Based on previously scheduled matchups and various conferences’ scheduling models, here are projections for each Big 12 team’s non-conference opponent:
Note: These projections do not allow for teams to schedule the same non-conference opponent, but there is no actual restriction against doing so. In the ACC, North Carolina State, Syracuse and Virginia Tech are all scheduled to play Liberty.
- Oklahoma vs. Missouri State: According to The Oklahoman, the Sooners are expected to host Missouri State as their non-conference matchup. OU originally had Army on its schedule, but West Point’s athletic director essentially confirmed that game will not occur.
- Oklahoma State vs. Western Illinois: The Pokes’ non-conference Power Five game against Oregon State has already been canceled, leaving home games against Western Illinois and Tulsa on the schedule. Due to the later scheduled date, Western Illinois seems more probable.
- Texas vs. UTEP: USF is a stronger opponent for the Longhorns than UTEP, but UTEP is scheduled to come to Austin two weeks later than USF is. As 247Horns pointed out, it would also allow the money UT pays UTEP to stay in the Texas university system.
- Texas Tech vs. Sam Houston State: All of Texas Tech’s scheduled non-conference games are unavailable -- Arizona is in the Pac-12, Alabama State in in the SWAC (which has postponed fall sports until the spring), and UTEP is already taken by Texas. Sam Houston State is an in-state FCS team that needs money and has an open week on its schedule.
- Baylor vs. Incarnate Word: Incarnate Word is one of six FCS teams in the state of Texas, and they’ll need all the money they can get from playing a Power Five team. These two teams are scheduled to play on Sept. 19, so the game could stay in place if the Big 12's season openers are held on that date.
- TCU vs. Tennessee Tech: For just the third time since 1925, TCU and SMU will not play each other due to the Big 12 requiring non-conference games to be played at home. All three of the Horned Frogs' scheduled non-conference games are now unavailable, so they are expected to play Tennessee Tech.
- Iowa State vs. UNLV: Ball State is also an option here, but its trip to Ames, Iowa, is a week earlier than UNLV's. UNLV is also allowed one more non-conference game than Ball State is.
- West Virginia vs. Eastern Kentucky : It would have been nice to have a Power Five non-conference game against Florida State as was originally scheduled, but the Seminoles scheduled Samford. EKU is the only non-conference game still available on WVU’s schedule.
- Kansas vs. Southern Illinois: The Jayhawks would probably like to keep FBS opponent Coastal Carolina, but that's slated to be a road game. Of their two FCS home opponents, Southern Illinois has more schedule flexibility.
- Kansas State vs. North Dakota: Buffalo and North Dakota were K-State’s first two scheduled opponents of the 2020 season. North Dakota is the choice here because it has the flexibility to move the game to a different week if needed. Buffalo’s conference, the Mid-American, is also only allowing one non-conference game.