Big 12 Football: Power Ranking Every Team's Toughest Nonconference Schedule

Ian Berg@@ShugJordanPkwyCorrespondent IMarch 7, 2013

Big 12 Football: Power Ranking Every Team's Toughest Nonconference Schedule

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    The Big 12 is heading into the new year looking to regain some national respect after the conference lost a lot of it to end the year.

    Kansas State got throttled in the BCS contest, Oklahoma lost to Texas A&M in embarrassing fashion and Texas sneaked by Oregon State in the Valero Alamo Bowl.

    The nonconference games have killed this conference, but some teams have stepped it up in the regular season heading into 2013. Here is a look at the nonconference action for the Big 12 this season. 

No. 10: Baylor Bears

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    Nonconference Lineup: Aug. 31 vs. Wofford; Sept. 7 vs. Buffalo; Sept. 21 vs. UL-Monroe

    The Bears walk into the 2013 season with the easiest nonconference lineup in the conference.

    There are no road games in the schedule that come out of conference, and there is no Top 25 teams among the three out-of-conference foes.

    Buffalo is among the worst programs in the FBS, and Wofford is an FCS level team. UL-Monroe knocked off Arkansas last year and made waves nationally but finished the year with a mediocre record and isn't a major threat to the Bears 2013 campaign. 

No. 9: Texas Tech Red Raiders

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    Nonconference Lineup: Aug. 30 at SMU; Sept. 7 vs. Stephen F. Austin; Sept. 21 vs. Texas State

    The Texas Tech Red Raiders are heading into a coaching transition in 2013 with former quarterback Kliff Kingsbury taking over the job after the departure of Tommy Tuberville.

    He walks into a light nonconference schedule with games starting at SMU, then home contests against FCS opponent Stephen F. Austin and new FBS team Texas State.

    SMU will be a formidable opponent as June Jones has the team playing at a high level heading into the new year. Still, the Red Raiders have a light nonconference load for 2013. 

No. 8: Kansas Jayhawks

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    Nonconference Lineup: Sept. 7 vs. South Dakota; Sept. 14 at Rice; Sept. 21 vs. Louisiana Tech

    Kansas may be the worst team in the conference, but they don’t have the toughest nonconference lineup.

    This is a very easy schedule outside of the Big 12 for Kansas with wins possible in all three games. The toughest contest will be a home game against Louisiana Tech.

    The last few seasons, the Bulldogs have been on a tear through college football and Kansas is still a very fragile unit under second year head coach Charlie Weis

No. 7: Kansas State Wildcats

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    Nonconference Lineup: Aug. 30 vs. North Dakota State; Sept. 7 vs. UL-Lafayette; Sept. 14 vs. UMass

    The Wildcats head into the new year without starting quarterback Collin Klein, but the consolation prize is a very easy nonconference schedule.

    North Dakota State is a cake walk and UMass should be an easy win after just making the jump to the FBS.

    UL-Lafayette is heading into the new year with a lot of confidence and will be the toughest competition on the schedule outside the Big 12 for the Wildcats.

    This should be another big year for Kansas State as three wins are already virtually guaranteed. 

No. 6: West Virginia Mountaineers

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    Nonconference Lineup: Aug. 31 vs. William & Mary; Sept. 14 vs. Georgia State; Sept. 21 vs. Maryland (Baltimore)

    West Virginia is licking its wounds after a rough finish to the 2012 season in its Big 12 debut, and the Mountaineers spared no expense to ensure that they had a light nonconference road in 2013.

    Games against William & Mary and Georgia State are fluff games, but a game against Maryland at the neutral Baltimore site should be a tougher game.

    Maryland was only a 4-8 squad a year ago, and this could be a marquee win for Randy Edsall in College Park. West Virginia should finish on top, but this is a game that could bring a lot of heartache for the Dana Holgorsen squad. 

No. 5: Iowa State Cyclones

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    Nonconference Lineup: Aug. 31 vs. Northern Iowa; Sept. 14 vs. Iowa; Sept. 26 at Tulsa

    The Iowa State Cyclones have a lot of issues to address on offense heading into the new year, and there won’t be a lot of time to get them addressed once the season begins.

    A game against Northern Iowa will be a win, but Iowa will be a tough win—so will a road trip to Tulsa to finish the month of September.

    This could be a tough year for Paul Rhoads in Ames. If he doesn’t come out with an undefeated run through the nonconference slate, this could become the first terrible season under Rhoads. 

No. 4: Oklahoma State Cowboys

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    Nonconference Lineup: Aug. 31 vs. Mississippi State (Houston); Sept. 7 vs. UTSA; Sept. 14 vs. Lamar

    Oklahoma State heads into the new year looking to start with a big win over an SEC foe in Mississippi State. A lot can be proven with a win over Mississippi State for this team, and a win would ensure that the Cowboys start the year with a load of confidence.

    Games against UTSA and Lamar will be assumed wins for this squad, but UTSA is a rising star as a new FBS member in the mid-major ranks.

    The Cowboys have a lot of potential heading into the year to be a very good team. Make it past Mississippi State and they will be among the elite in the Big 12. 

No. 3: TCU Horned Frogs

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    Non-conference Lineup: Aug. 31 vs. LSU (Arlington, Tex.); Sept. 7 vs. Southeastern Louisiana; Sept. 28 vs. SMU

    TCU is one of the rising stars in the Big 12. The Horned Frogs only finished the year 7-6 and lost their bowl game against Michigan State, but it was done with a backup quarterback calling the shots after he was unexpectedly thrust into the starting role.

    A season opening game against LSU is going to be a tough contest for the Horned Frogs, but it will be a major win if they can pull it off.

    Games against Southeastern Louisiana and SMU won’t be as treacherous, but the Mustangs will be ready to play.

    This schedule has the potential to make or break the season for the Horned Frogs. 

No. 2: Oklahoma Sooners

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    Nonconference Lineup: Aug. 31 vs. UL-Monroe; Sept. 14 vs. Tulsa; Sept. 28 at Notre Dame

    Oklahoma is heading into the new year looking for a BCS bid and a Big 12 title.

    They were scary close to winning the conference last year, but a loss to Kansas State dropped them out of contention. A loss to Notre Dame knocked them out of the national title discussion.

    They get the chance to get back some pride when they travel to South Bend this fall.

    A home game against Tulsa is also one to watch for this team heading into the new season. A season opening game against UL-Monroe should be a win, but the Warhawks were very tough a year ago and return the majority of the lineup.  

No. 1: Texas Longhorns

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    Nonconference Lineup: Aug. 31 vs. New Mexico State; Sept. 7 at BYU; Sept. 14 vs. Ole Miss

    The Texas Longhorns are heading into the new year looking for another leap in national reputation.

    The Longhorns loaded the schedule with two quality nonconference opponents, and there are no FCS level teams on the schedule.

    A game against New Mexico State will be very easy to win, but BYU and Ole Miss are both quality opponents.

    A road game to BYU will be especially tough for this Texas team. This is the toughest nonconference lineup in the Big 12 this year.