Like the Pac-12, Big 12 members play only three non-league games, but unlike the West Coast contingency, they play each of their fellow nine members once each season.
Does that give the Big 12 more street cred with the CFB Playoff committee than say, a win in a conference title game? Based on the final rankings in 2014, which left out both TCU and Baylor, no.
For 2015, all but two Big 12 members will play FCS opponents while only one club, Texas, will play two Power Fives. A whopping three Big 12 members won’t play a Power opponent out of conference play this season.
That equals 30 percent of the field, a number that is the highest among the Power conferences. The only leagues that come close are the SEC with four of its 14 members not playing a Power team out of conference and the Pac-12 with three of 12.
What it means for the Big 12 is traditional powerhouses like Oklahoma and Texas will have a more difficult time climbing back to the top of the conference rankings than upstarts Baylor and Oklahoma State, neither who play a power team.
Here’s a look at the schedules from bottom to top.
10. Oklahoma State
2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Central Michigan, FCS Central Arkansas, UTSA
This is Oklahoma State’s easiest non-league slate since 2006, when it drew FCS Missouri State, Arkansas State, FAU and Houston. That was also the last time the Cowboys didn’t schedule a Power team out of conference.
Central Michigan is only the fifth MAC squad Oklahoma State has ever played. The Cowboys are 4-0 all-time vs. the MAC, the most recent clash coming in 1994 when they rolled into DeKalb and knocked off Northern Illinois 31-14.
2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at SMU, FCS Lamar, Rice
Baylor hasn’t played a regular-season game against a Power team out of conference play since 2009, when it traveled to Wake Forest and edged the Demon Deacons 24-21.
Given that all three of the Bears’ non-Big 12 foes hail from Texas, they won’t play outside of their home state until Saturday, Oct. 10 when they travel to Lawrence to face Kansas.
8. Kansas State
2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS South Dakota, at UTSA, Louisiana Tech
The third of the three Big 12 members without a Power opponent out of conference, K-State hasn’t enjoyed this specific scheduling advantage since 2013 when it played FCS North Dakota State, UL Lafayette and UMass.
Combined, the Wildcats’ two FBS foes have been members of the top division of college football for a mere 29 years. That said, Louisiana Tech did play for the C-USA crown last season.
2015 Non-Conference Opponents: Georgia Southern, FCS Liberty, Maryland
West Virginia is one of four Big 12 members that will play all three of their non-conference games vs. teams with a winning record from last season.
The only caveat is that Georgia Southern has only been an FBS member since last season and FCS Liberty has never knocked off a Power-Five team. The Mountaineers haven’t dropped a game to Maryland at home in Morgantown since 2002, winning four straight since then.
West Virginia is also the only Big 12 team without a non-league road trip in 2015.
2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Minnesota, FCS Stephen F. Austin, SMU
Though TCU’s non-league schedule is far from all-world, they will travel to Minnesota to face a Golden Gopher squad that played itself within one game of the Big Ten championship last season.
Other than that, it’s two Texas-based teams, one who the Frogs have never lost to (FCS Stephen F. Austin) and the other who they’ve won three straight against (SMU).
5. Iowa State
2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS Northern Iowa, Iowa, at Toledo
Iowa State is the second of the four Big 12 members who will play all three of their non-league games vs. winning teams. Beyond 7-6 Iowa, the Cyclones draw 9-5 FCS Northern Iowa, a team they fell to as recently as 2013, and 9-4 Toledo.
All-in-all, its three programs that finished 25-15 in 2014, the third best mark in the Big 12.
2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS South Dakota State, Memphis, at Rutgers
No Big 12 team will play a set of opponents with a better record from last season than Kansas: 9-5 FCS South Dakota State, 10-3 Memphis and 8-5 Rutgers.
The road trip is the Jayhawks’ second-consecutive away game vs. a non-Big 12 Power-opponent, KU traveled to Duke last season and lost 41-3.
2015 Non-Conference Opponents: Akron, at Tennessee, Tulsa
The meat of Oklahoma’s non-conference slate is the road trip to Tennessee, a program that improved to 7-6 last season.
The Sooners have never traveled to Knoxville, last visiting an SEC school in 2003 when they were ranked No. 1 and beat unranked Alabama 20-13 in Tuscaloosa.
2. Texas Tech
2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS Sam Houston State, UTEP, at Arkansas
Before hosting Arkansas last season, a game that ended in a 49-28 beat down, Texas Tech hadn’t played a Power-Five opponent outside of Big 12 play since 2003. That was the year the Red Raiders faced both NC State and Ole Miss on the road in the regular season, losing 49-21 to the Wolfpack and beating the Rebels 49-45.
What gives Tech’s slate the edge over Oklahoma’s is that, other than the Power-Five foe, it will play two winning teams from last season (11-5 FCS Sam Houston State and 7-6 UTEP) as opposed to the two losing squads the Sooners will face (5-7 Akron and 2-10 Tulsa).
The Red Raiders are the fourth of the four Big 12 teams that will play the entirety of their non-league schedule against winning teams.
2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Notre Dame, Rice, California
Texas tops the list because it’s the only Big 12 school with two Power Fives out of Big 12 play in 2015. On top of that, the Longhorns will travel to South Bend to face the Irish, where they haven’t won a game since 1934.
Texas has never lost to Cal, but haven’t faced the Golden Bears in the regular season since winning 56-15 in Austin back in 1970. As for Rice, a program that finished 8-5 last season, the Horns have won 12 straight vs. the Owls, last falling 19-17 in 1994 in Houston. Texas hasn’t lost to Rice in Austin since 1965.
Amy Daughters is a contributor to FBSchedules.com.