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The Big 12 is moving away from round-robin scheduling for the first time since 2011, making the strength of schedule metric more valuable than ever. With the varied schedules in a one-time 14-team layover season, having a clean path could help decide which team makes the 2023 Big 12 Championship Game. 

Four teams are set to transition to the Big 12 -- BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and Houston -- and every team plays at least two of the newcomers. However, only two teams get both Texas and Oklahoma on the schedule in their final Big 12 season. To the contrary, only one returning Big 12 school (Oklahoma State) got all four new additions on the schedule. 

Of course, nonconference games will play a central role in the discussion. National contenders like Alabama, Oregon and Utah all feature on Big 12 schedules. Only one team plays two Power Five teams in nonconference play, giving them an incredibly difficult path with 11 Power Five games on the schedule, broken up only by one FCS game. 

While the matchups matter, so do locations and timing of games. Playing teams in Texas in the September heat is no fun. Neither is traveling to West Virginia in November. All of it plays a role as we put together our ranking of every Big 12 schedule, from hardest to easiest. 

2023 Big 12 Strength of Schedule Rankings
The Mountaineers put together what seems like a perfect storm to get a coach fired. West Virginia goes on the road to play top 10 Penn State to start the season, and plays rival Pittsburgh in Week 3. Then, it's games against conference title contenders Texas Tech and TCU, road trips to UCF and Oklahoma and closing the year on the road against Baylor. The only saving grace is dodging Texas, but that won't be enough to make a bowl game in 2023.
Texas boasts the best nonconference game in college football this season, traveling on the road to face the vaunted Alabama Crimson Tide in Tuscaloosa. Road trips to Baylor, TCU, Houston and Iowa State will be tricky, as will playing Kansas State and Texas Tech with a trip to the Big 12 title game on the line. The top five Big 12 teams in the SP+ rating are all on the schedule for the Longhorns in Steve Sarkisian's critical third season.
Iowa State plays its annual tilt against rival Iowa in the Cy-Hawk Series, and ranks among the few teams in the Big 12 to play both Texas and Oklahoma in the pairing's final Big 12 campaign. Road games against Baylor and Kansas State could both be incredibly difficult, while Kansas might be the only home game in which the Cyclones are likely to be favored. Matt Campbell has his work cut out for him.
The Wildcats play the return game against Missouri in nonconference play after handing the Tigers a 40-12 shellacking a year earlier. Early road trips against Oklahoma State and Texas Tech could be difficult tests, while UCF and TCU are wild cards at this point. There's no BYU, Cincinnati or West Virginia on the schedule as likely wins, while the Kansas game comes on the road and should feature a highly motivated Jayhawks squad.
Former Oregon starting quarterback Tyler Shough welcomes his former team to the desert as Texas Tech hosts the Ducks in Week 2. The Red Raiders also get all four other Texas schools, with games against rival Baylor and Texas each happening on the road. The home schedule doesn't leave much leeway either with TCU, UCF and Kansas State all coming to Lubbock. The good news is that a revitalized Texas Tech crowd could help lead to a classic night game victory against any of those opponents.
The Jayhawks play Big Ten West contender Illinois in the nonconference slate, but starts with home games against two of the four new teams in their first three conference matchups. The road games include a whopper against Texas, but otherwise no other team that finished better than .500 in Big 12 play last season. All eyes will be on the Sunflower Showdown in Lawrence in the penultimate game of the year.
TCU's schedule in 2023 is a tale of two halves. Games against Colorado, Houston and SMU early will be tricky, but are more than winnable. In the second half of the year, the Horned Frogs travel to Kansas State, Texas Tech and Oklahoma, a stretch only broken up by playing both Baylor and Texas at home. Things could spiral if TCU isn't careful.
The last high profile nonconference game on the Big 12 board involves Baylor hosting two-time reigning Pac-12 champion Utah in Week 2. A win would do wonders for the Bears' national reputation. Tough games against Texas and Texas Tech both take place in Waco, Texas, while tough road trips to Kansas State and TCU are sandwiched with home tilts against Houston and West Virginia. The schedule is balanced enough to let the Bears find themselves in a pivotal season.
An early road trip to Arkansas sets the tone for the most difficult schedule of the new additions. Home games against Texas Tech, Iowa State and Oklahoma won't be a cakewalk, while winnable matchups against West Virginia and Kansas are on the road. Kalani Sitake's staff will have to thread a needle and avoid injuries to win a number of close games.
From Oct. 21 to Nov. 4, Houston has to play against Texas, at Kansas State and at Baylor in quick succession. If the Cougars can survive that stretch, the rest of the schedule is manageable. Houston does not play a Power Five team in nonconference play, though UTSA will provide a challenge. The Coogs should be favored in home games against West Virginia and Cincinnati. That historic game against the 'Horns will define the season.
The Knights have an easy nonconference slate with a trip to Boise State as the highlight, but open their Big 12 tenure with a bang as UCF travels to play the defending Big 12 champions, Kansas State. Road trips to Oklahoma and Texas Tech will also be difficult, but home games against Baylor, Oklahoma State and Houston provide a few significant showcases. Marquee nonconference games will come, but the Knights find some nice balance in their first Big 12 slate.
Cincinnati opens Big 12 play at home in a marquee game against Oklahoma, and also gets the other three new additions on its schedule to begin the new era. Missing Kansas State and Texas is a major plus for their strength of schedule, as is finishing with Houston, West Virginia and Kansas. An early season game against Pittsburgh should be an interesting first test for Scott Satterfield's program. 
The Cowboys travel to the state of Texas just once, to play Houston. Oklahoma State plays just four conference road games, with two coming against conference newcomers, and the others coming against the two bottom teams in the conference during the 2022 season. Oklahoma State can reach eight wins without breaking much of a sweat if things fall right.
Since the SEC asked Oklahoma to cancel its series with Georgia, the Sooners are one of three programs in the Big 12 -- and only returning program -- that does not have a Power Five nonconference game. Additionally, the Sooners miss Kansas State, Baylor and Texas Tech, three of the top teams in the conference. The toughest road test is against a rebuilding TCU squad. The Sooners have a perfectly manageable run to Big 12 contention.