Publish date:

Call it the Baylor Rule: Big 12 to require games against Power Five non-conference opponents

Baylor players warm up before the game against Northwestern State Demons Saturday night in McLane Stadium. The Bears beat the Demons 70-6.

Credit: Baylor Lariat

Following in the footsteps of the SEC, the Big Ten, and the ACC the Big 12 announced Tuesday a new measure to require its 10 member institutions to schedule at least one Power Five (plus Notre Dame) non-conference opponent. The conference it will ban its membership from playing more than one FCS opponent per season.

Unlike its Power Five brethren, though, the Big 12 placed no teeth behind their new rule. The SEC, Big Ten required their members to line up a Power Five opponent by 2016, the ACC by 2017. The Big 12 placed no beginning date on its announcement.

(The Pac-12 has no such requirement -- not that I could find, at least -- but non-conference scheduling is the least of that league's concerns.)

In typical Big 12 fashion, the conference couldn't get out of the gate without some confusion.

“Schedule strength is a key component in CFP Selection Committee deliberations,” Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby said in a statement. “This move will strengthen the resumes for all Big 12 teams. Coupled with the nine-game full round robin Conference schedule our teams play, it will not only benefit the teams at the top of our standings each season, but will impact the overall strength of the Conference.”

The conference noted it will not ask its members to rip up any existing scheduling contracts, meaning its 10 programs can get to complying with the new initiative... whenever they decide to get to it.

There exists an unspoken but obvious component to Tuesday's announcement: the vast majority of the Big 12 has already jumped on board.

Here's a raw numbers ranking of future games on the books vs. Power Five opponents, as compiled by scheduling clearinghouse FBSchedules.com:

1. West Virginia - 15
2. Texas - 13
3. Oklahoma - 10
3. TCU - 10
5. Iowa State - 8
6. Kansas State - 7
7. Baylor - 4
Oklahoma State - 4
Texas Tech - 4
10. Kansas - 3

And here is a full listing of each of those games:

Baylor: at Duke (2017), vs. Duke (2018), Utah (2023), at Utah (2024)

Iowa State: at Iowa (2016), vs. Iowa (2017), at Iowa (2018), vs. Iowa (2019), at Iowa (2020), vs. Iowa (2021), at Iowa (2022), vs. Iowa (2023)

Kansas: vs. Rutgers (2018), vs. Illinois (2023), at Illinois (2023)

Kansas State: at Stanford (2016), at Vanderbilt (2017), vs. Mississippi State (2018), at Mississippi State (2019), vs. Vanderbilt (2020), vs. Stanford (2021)

Oklahoma: vs. Ohio State (2016), at Ohio State (2017), vs. UCLA (2018), at UCLA (2019),, Nebraska (2021), at Nebraska (2022), vs. Michigan (2025), at Michigan (2026), vs. LSU (2027), at LSU (2028)

Oklahoma State: vs. Pittsburgh (2016), at Pittsburgh (2017), at Oregon State (2019), vs. Oregon State (2020)

TCU: vs. Arkansas (2016), at Arkansas (2017), vs. Ohio State (2018), at Ohio State (2019), at California (2020), vs. California (2021), at Colorado (2022), vs. Colorado (2023), at Stanford (2024), vs. Stanford (2027)

Texas: vs. Notre Dame (2016), at California (2016), vs. Maryland (2017), at USC (2017), at Maryland (2018), vs. USC (2018), vs. LSU (2019), at LSU (2020), at Arkansas (2021), vs. Ohio State (2022), at Ohio State (2023), at Michigan (2024), vs. Michigan (2027)

Texas Tech: at Arizona State (2016), vs. Arizona State (2017), at Arizona (2019), vs. Arizona (2020)

West Virginia: vs. Missouri (2016), vs. Virginia Tech* (2017), vs. Tennessee* (2018), at N.C. State (2018), vs. N.C. State (2019), vs. Maryland (2020), at Maryland (2021), vs. Virginia Tech (2021), at Pittsburgh (2022), at Virginia Tech (2022), at Penn State (2023), vs. Pittsburgh (2023), vs. Penn State (2024), at Pittsburgh (2024), vs. Pittsburgh (2025)

* - neutral site game

But even a full listing doesn't tell the complete story.

Texas Tech recently completed a home-and-home with Arkansas and has four games with Houston oncoming in addition to the slated home-and-homes with the Arizona schools. Oklahoma State opened the 2013 season against Mississippi State in Houston and 2014 against Florida State in Dallas; the Pokes also have a home-and-home with Boise State coming in 2018/2021 and, like Kansas State, don't have a single game scheduled for 2022 or beyond.

That leaves Baylor and Kansas.

The Bears and Jayhawks have for years employed a similar scheduling strategy for completely divergent reasons. Baylor believes its clearest path to a national championship is a 12-0 record, won by any means necessary. Kansas needs wins, period, by any means necessary.

Baylor has played lip service to a tougher schedule. Art Briles mentioned over the summer a possible game against Arkansas in Houston, though nothing has been nailed down to date. The Bears tried to line up a game with California in Australia to open the 2016 season, but those plans tell through. (Cal will play Hawaii instead.)

So now the Big 12 has nudged Baylor -- and Kansas but, come on, it's Baylor -- to change its strategy... whenever it decides to get around to it.