The Big 12 just released its conference schedule for 2024, and to say that there are a few surprises would be an understatement. The Big 12 was the final Power Conference to release its schedule after the ACC released last week and the Big 10 and SEC released late last year.
The conference has plenty of surprises, big games, and a surprising strategy on rivalry weekend, tradiaitonlly the weekend of Thanksgiving.
Big 12 Schedule Has Plenty of Surprises
The official 2⃣0⃣2⃣4⃣ Big 12 football schedule 🗓️ pic.twitter.com/9NiF0hJsEy
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) January 30, 2024
The dates and locations of each game were released all the way back on November 2nd, but fans were left waiting for nearly three months to find out the exact dates or order of each game. There were rumors of having a lot weekday games, back-to-back road games, and starting to create new rivalries.
While some of that sort of happened, it was, in many ways, underwhelming. Here are a few surprises:
- There aren’t many back-to-back road games. The conference made a concerted effort it appears not to have teams play back-to-back road games, at least in consecutive weeks. For many teams, one of their two BYE weeks takes place between two road games. Two home games, on the other hand, seem not to be an issue at all. Only TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and Kansas State will have two consecutive road games without a BYE. Every team has at least one back-to-back home games stretch.
- UCF has the curse of the opponent BYE week: Whether you view it as a blessing or a curse, four of UCF’s five home games will be against opponents either going into their BYE week or coming off their break. Some view this as a blessing as teams are either rusty for not playing or looking forward to the BYE, while others see it as a curse with the team either recovering from injury or playing hard knowing a break is coming up.
- Fri/Sat Games: I’m not saying this has never happened, but I’ve never seen a schedule have a “Friday or Saturday” next to it. I’ve seen games moved last minute, but to have fans have to plan to travel for a Friday or Saturday seems odd. There is no word on when these dates will be finalized.
- Not Many Weekday Games: There are a total of eight conference games that may be played on a weekday. Again, with the possibility of a Fri/Sat game, that number could be lowered to just two. Considering there are 11 conference weeks, having less than one per week is a surprise.
Again, we knew the opponents ahead of schedule, but sometimes, the order of games can make things really interesting and add storylines. This section will skip the obvious big games, and only focus on the games that are amplified because of when they are played:
- Colorado vs Kansas State – November 30th – I’m not going to say that Coach Prime is going to bring Colorado back to relevance again in 2024, but with his transfer portal class coming in and the amount of press he gets for any success, this game at the end of the season seems like a very intriguing matchup if the stars align.
- Oklahoma State vs Utah – September 21st – On paper, Utah and Oklahoma State appear to be the early frontrunners to be on top of the Big 12 Conference in 2024. They just happen to play each other in the first conference weekend of the season. This game will get a lot of people on Twitter riled up. If OSU wins, watch out for the “Welcome to the Big 12, Utah!” and if Utah wins the headlines will be “See, told you we’d run through this G5 league”.
- West Virginia vs Cincinnati – November 7th,8th, or 9th – If WVU is going to have a rival in this conference, it is going to be Cincinnati. The fact that this game could be played on a Thursday or Friday would give this game a ratings boost that, if close, could cause a bit of a stir that could eventually lead to some kind of rivalry.
Rivalry game weekend is the final week of the college football season or the weekend of Thanksgiving. For years, the Big 12 has been a bit different. Bedlam (OU vs. OSU), The Red River Rivalry (Texas vs. OU), and Farmeggedon (ISU vs. KSU) have been played on weeks that have not been considered “rivalry week.”
Many assumed, with the departure of OU and Texas and the additions of Utah, Arizona, Arizona State, and Colorado, that perhaps the Big 12 would move to a traditional rivalry weekend, using both Friday and Saturday to feature games.
Instead, most of the rivalry games are spread out throughout the season.
- Holy War – BYU vs Utah will be played on November 9th
- Baylor vs Texas Tech will be played on October 19th
- Kansas vs Kansas State will be played on October 26th
- Somehow, UCF and Houston aren’t even playing each other
There will be some rivalry games, including Arizona vs. Arizona State and Farmeggedon, but there are many other games that make one wonder what the conference was doing, not even trying to make an interesting matchup (West Virginia vs. Texas Tech, BYU vs. Houston, Utah vs UCF, and TCU vs. Cincinnati).
Overall, the conference seemed to be thoughtful with its strategy. At first glance, there doesn’t seem to be any team that has a significantly easier path to the Big 12 Conference Championship Game over another. Obviously, as time goes on, I will dive deeper into the schedule and analyze every part of it (be on the lookout for those), but it shouldn’t go unnoticed or unappreciated the work and time it must take to make this schedule work out for every program.
The Big 12 Conference is in good hands, and 2024 can’t come soon enough!