The Big 12 is set to enter its final year as a 10-team conference. In a sport that only features 12 regular-season games, the schedule can dramatically influence where a program ends up. Even though every team plays each other in the Big 12 round robin, key nonconference matchups -- along with potentially having five road conference games -- can shape the field. Playing conference contenders Baylor or Oklahoma on the road is a tall task for a contender, let alone those attempting to make a bowl game.
Scheduling breaks can do wonders for teams looking to raise their ceilings, however. With a conference that typically features so much parity from top to bottom, any little advantage can help. Schedules are but one influence on annual results, so with the season only a couple of months away, let's dive into what each team is facing.
Here is how we rank every Big 12 football schedule in 2022 from hardest to most manageable.
|When Texas Tech scheduled its nonconference slate, there was no way of knowing that two opponents could very well be preseason top-15 teams. Getting Houston at home and NC State on the road provides a brutal first round of tests for Joey McGuire's new staff. Playing Texas, Kansas State and Oklahoma State (with the latter two coming on the road) before the bye week makes things even harder. The Red Raiders will be much improved in 2022, but the lopsided schedule means they could easily be 1-5 at the midway point with only the slightest of mistakes. With Baylor and Oklahoma in the second half of the schedule, making a bowl game would be a massive accomplishment.|
|Neal Brown is heading into a make-or-break season in Morgantown. Unfortunately, West Virginia has provided him with one of the most perilous schedules imaginable. A pair of Thursday night nationally televised rivalry games against Pitt and Virginia Tech in September presents two opportunities for Brown to falter. Then, the Mountaineers head into October with games against Texas and Baylor. November may be the worst month of all with Oklahoma, Kansas State and a road game vs. Oklahoma State to close the year. The schedule starts bad, stays bad and ends worse.|
|After ULM, the Longhorns begin the much-anticipated second act for Steve Sarkisian by hosting none other than national championship favorite Alabama. Games over the next two weeks against UTSA and Texas Tech are likely wins, but won't be easy. Luckily, things settle down from there, but road games against both Oklahoma schools and Kansas State set up a critical Black Friday matchup with Baylor that could decide a spot in the Big 12 Championship Game. Sarkisian's Longhorns failed to weather the storm during a seven-game losing streak in 2021; the 2022 schedule will prove whether Texas has solved those issues. |
|A road trip to BYU should be one of the top nonconference matchups of 2022, especially considering the ties between these two programs as the Cougars prepare for the Big 12. Baylor travels to both Texas and Oklahoma in the same year, and it will have to solve its Morgantown woes after losing all five matchups and allowing 44 points per game on the road since the Mountaineers joined the Big 12. If Baylor gets back to the Big 12 Championship Game, it will have earned it. |
|The Horned Frogs have a tricky nonconference slate road trips to rival SMU and Colorado, but should be favored to win both matchups. Then, TCU gets Oklahoma, Kansas and Oklahoma State early in the year. The road schedule features the Jayhawks, West Virginia, Texas and Baylor, all of which could be winnable in Sonny Dykes' first season. If TCU can get things on track early, there are wins to be found. |
|Sweet revenge is on the table, as the Cowboys host Central Michigan for the first time since one of the most shocking missed calls of all time. Aside from the Chippewas, Oklahoma State gets a reeling Arizona State and Arkansas-Pine Bluff in nonconference play before traveling to Baylor, hosting Texas Tech and traveling to TCU over the next three weeks. While the Cowboys play Baylor and Oklahoma on the road, the big matchups are spread out across the calendar. The only downside on OSU's part? The Cowboys don't have a bye week in Big 12 play. |
|The most disappointing team of 2021 is back with a new-look roster, but the schedule should help the Cyclones keep their momentum. Their yearly tilt against Iowa is on the road, but otherwise they have easy matchups with Southeast Missouri State and Ohio. Getting Baylor and Kansas State in the first two Big 12 games won't be easy, but both are at home. Oklahoma only comes to Ames after the bye week and games against Texas Tech and TCU in the final two weeks are winnable. Nothing will be easy in this Big 12, but the Cyclones will have time to get things together. |
|A game against Houston is almost a surefire loss, but the rest of the schedule isn't too bad. Duke will be an interesting measuring stick game in Lance Leipold's second season. Intriguing games against Iowa State and TCU will be at home. An early-season road tilt against West Virginia could show whether the Jayhawks have real upside to break out of the Big 12's cellar. |
|The Sooners' nonconference slate should be easy, assuming Brent Venables can survive his first road trip to rival Nebraska. Otherwise, every other major matchup for Oklahoma takes place at home. The Sooners open Big 12 play with Kansas State and travel to TCU before the Red River Rivalry. Then, Oklahoma has an open date before playing on the road against Iowa State and hosting both Baylor and Oklahoma State in the final month. There are some tricky spots, but the schedule sets up nicely. |
|There are plenty of reasons to believe 2022 could be a breakout moment for Chris Klieman's program, but the schedule is perhaps the biggest. The Wildcats get a manageable nonconference game against Mizzou to build some momentum before catching Brent Venables' Oklahoma in its first Big 12 game. The Sooners could still be figuring out their identity that early in the season. A late slate against Oklahoma State, Texas and Baylor will determine Big 12 title game chances, but two of those games will be at Bill Snyder Family Stadium. |