From softest to toughest, we rank each Big 12 football team’s schedule for the 2017 season based on opponent’ win percentage.
The Big 12 Conference will begin the 2017 season with a foot-long chip on its shoulder. Failing to send a team to the College Football Playoff, bumbling the expansion consideration and generally getting dogged for a lack of defense helped make the league the butt of many jokes. But the Big 12 finished 2016 on a high note, going 4-2 in bowl games, and the season ahead will afford it more chances to prop up a sagging reputation.
Big 12 decision-makers made two key moves last year that’ll impact forthcoming schedules, electing to stand pat at 10 members and adding a season-ending championship game for the first time since 2010. The fallout? Well, for starters the league maintains its round-robin format, so everyone still plays everyone else. In other words, the best, fairest and most balanced possible scheduling system for fans and schools alike.
The return of the Big 12 Championship Game gives the conference that coveted 13th data point to proudly hold up in front of the playoff committee, as well as an influx of cash and considerable national exposure on the first Saturday of December. The additional game conceivably also means fewer bye weeks, since the regular season schedule is being compressed by one Saturday. By the final month of the season, Big 12 athletes are likely to be a little more gassed and a little less healthy than they were over the past six seasons.
Since Big 12 schedules are balanced, ranking the totality of their slates rests on what happens out of conference. And therein resides a conundrum. No one wants to be Baylor, which perennially binge-eats on cupcakes. However, Oklahoma may have lost its shot at a 2016 playoff berth by facing two ranked non-conference opponents, Houston and Ohio State, in the opening month. Perhaps a happy medium between Waco and Norman will both satisfy the committee and avoid the kind of slow stat that can never be overcome.
The Big 12 will have the first three weekends of the 2017 regular season to change hearts and minds across the college football landscape. On the opening week, West Virginia faces Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in a battle of Big East expats. However, it’s on the subsequent two Saturdays that the Big 12 will have its best chances of the year to make national headlines.
On Sept. 9, defending champion Oklahoma travels to Columbus to play Ohio State in a rematch of last year’s Buckeye rout in Norman. The Sooners get a shot at redemption, while making an early case for serious playoff contention. The following weekend, Texas faces USC in the Coliseum for the first really big game of the Tom Herman era. How much of an impact will Herman and the new staff have in their initial offseason? The entire college football world gets an inkling when the Horns meet Sam Darnold and a Trojan squad that finished 2016 like a locomotive traveling downhill.
With something to prove to a leery nation, the Big 12 is itching to kick off 2017 much the way it ended 2016, bagging postseason wins over Auburn, Colorado, Texas A&M and Boise State. The league is going to need to capitalize on those first few weekends of non-conference play, because its members will start cannibalizing one another in earnest on Sept. 23.
Big 12 Football Schedule Rankings For 2017
10. West Virginia – .4602 (opponent win percentage)
9. Oklahoma – .4995
8. Baylor – .5109
7. KSU – .5168
6. OK State – .5338
5. KU – .5390
4. Texas – .5397
3. ISU – .5471
2. TCU – .5545
1. TTU – .5731