Big 12 Football 2011: Ranking the Big 12's Toughest Non-Conference Road Games

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Big 12 Football 2011: Ranking the Big 12's Toughest Non-Conference Road Games
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

In the modern era of college football, the importance of a "home game" cannot be underestimated. It is lucrative for the school, supports the local economy, energizes the fanbase and, most importantly, gives the home team its greatest chance of winning.

The non-conference schedule is set solely at the discretion of the competing schools. Every team's goal is to qualify for a postseason bowl, and to do that you have to win games. With that in mind, the major conference programs have very little incentive to schedule difficult opponents.

There are basically four philosophies at work in the non-conference portion of the schedule: 1) We'll play anyone, anytime. 2) We'll play no one who can hurt us—ever. 3) We'll play a good team, but only on a neutral field. 4) We'll play a good team, but only at home.

The compromise from No. 4 is the "home and home"—a give-and-take series between opponents in which each secures a high-profile non-conference home game against a quality foe. This generates buzz on campus, in the media and among recruits, and brings in big-time dollars from alumni and boosters.

The "home and home" is alluring, but only to an extent. That's why no Big 12 team will venture out on the road more than one time before conference play begins in late September.

Here's my ranking of each Big 12 team's non-conference road game ...

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