Most Big 12 fans — like those across college football — seldom are satisfied with their favorite team’s schedule.
Scheduling holds a huge sway among football fans. They get angry about changing game times and too many weak opponents. And there’s always some other team they wish they were playing.
The Big 12 doesn’t have the advantage of other conferences, playing only three nonconference games, compared to four for most other Power 5 programs. And few teams are willing to play too many “stretch games,” as TCU coach Gary Patterson likes to call his tougher nonconference matchups.
But it doesn’t keep Big 12 fans from dreaming about a perfect nonconference opponent for their favorite programs.
Coaches don’t necessarily share that opinion, owning to job survival. But a new breed of athletic directors seems to be more willing to consider some of these games. Stretching an athletic budget has a funny way of emphasizing those points.
It not only builds competition but also credibility, particularly important in these days of building College Football Playoff résumés.
Here’s our picks for dream matchups for Big 12 schools. Feel free to make other suggestions.
Hopefully, all of the conference’s athletic directors will be reading.
Big 12 Dream Opponents
Baylor – A notoriously weak nonconference schedule serves as a traditional albatross for the Bears. Heck, a one-off game against Ole Miss in Houston in 2020 was hailed as revolutionary. It even gives the Bears dispensation for hooking up with Incarnate Word two weeks later. The best way to rebuild the school’s credibility would be with tough opponents. How about a potential “Baptists vs. Catholics” battle against Notre Dame, pitting the Bears against the Irish for only the third time in program history and the first since 1998. Baylor scored three points in the two previous games of the series. Times have changed around Waco as the Irish would learn.
Iowa State – Gene Chizik is out of football as is Dan McCarney, stripping the Cyclones of two potential former coaches and two grudge rematches. The Cyclones have never beaten Wisconsin in a seven-game series last played in 1993. How one-sided has the series been? How about a 175-29 Wisconsin scoring edge with three shutouts of ISU. Iowa State has never scored more than 10 points against the Badgers.
Kansas – Do we really have to ask? Kansas and Missouri met 120 times before the bitter blood feud ended after the 2011 game. Even more galling for Kansas fans is Missouri’s 54-48-8 record in the series (per shrpsports.com) as both sides debate the all-time record. Some Missouri fans would rather have a shot at Bill Self and the Jayhawks’ basketball team. But these two neighbors should play every year in every sport. The fact the series ended should be a disappointment for fans on both sides of the rivalry.
Kansas State – It’s rare that Bill Snyder gets a chance to play against one of his coaching proteges from outside the Big 12. But how about a matchup with Clemson and Brent Venables, who has carved out a reputation as one of the nation’s top defensive minds. And who knows? Maybe the exposure against his old school elevates Venables for those who eventually will hire Snyder’s replacement.
Oklahoma – Bob Stoops’ mojo against Alabama highlights his OU career, along with his 3-0 record against the Crimson Tide. It provided the Sooners and the Big 12 with one of their few rallying points against the SEC. Alabama hasn’t beaten the Sooners since the 1963 Orange Bowl. Lincoln Riley would gain some instant early swag among Sooners fans by continuing this Bama streak.
Oklahoma State – Fayetteville, Ark., is almost a straight shot east from Stillwater, 180 miles away. Arkansas holds a 30-15-1 edge over the Cowboys in a series that hasn’t been played since 1980. A renewal would benefit both sides, providing a delicious meeting of quote machines Mike Gundy and Bret Bielema.
Texas – Do we have to ask again? Texas and Texas A&M always dominate sports in the Lone Star State. The fact they no longer play each season in football is a crime on both sides.
TCU – Gordon Gee might be away in West Virginia, but his old school Ohio State raises the hackles of Horned Frogs fans. They haven’t forgotten some of Gee’s comments he made there during the 2010 season when TCU was trying to break into the national championship conversation. The Horned Frogs and Buckeyes hook up in 2018 in an eagerly anticipated game at AT&T Stadium, but it won’t be the same as a home-and-home opportunity with the Buckeyes. Especially without Gee in the president’s box on the other side.
Texas Tech – Washington State coach Mike Leach tells anybody who will listen that former Tech athletic director Gerald Myers and president John Montford conspired to run him out of Lubbock after the 2009 season. Even worse are his claims they never paid him for that final season of work. There’s no doubt that Leach, Tech’s winningest coach, certainly would like another shot at his old school. Red Raiders fans probably feel the same way, particularly as his image improves with the struggles of the Kliff Kingsbury era.
West Virginia – The game that looms above all others for Mountaineers fans would be a renewal of the series with Penn State, which holds a 48-9-2 edge. The Mountaineers’ last victory over Penn State came in 1988. They haven’t met since 1992. A two-game renewal is set for 2023 and 2024, but that’s too long for WVU fans to wait.