No one can ever make their mind up about non-conference schedules.
Either non-conferences games end up as a huge mistake or end in blowouts and amount to nothing at the end of the season.
Each coach and college has their own way of scheduling, with some taking on bigger name opponents to boost the strength of schedule and others taking the chance to beat up on an FCS team and start the season on a high note. Most non-conference games end up in the backs of everyone's minds until the end of the season, when who you schedule can determine whether you slip into College Football Playoff or get sent to the "Not College Football Playoffs", a place Baylor fans know all too well.
Here's how the Big 12 did this year for scheduling, and how OSU ranks against the rest of the conference.
1. Texas( vs. Notre Dame, vs. Rice, vs. Cal)
Non-conference schedules are using filled with cupcakes from the bottom of the FCS( i.e. Savannah State). However, this truly looks likes an impressive three games for Texas. Rice and Cal are not exactly the best competition from their respective conferences, but adding a game from both CUSA and the PAC 12 always looks nice. Texas vs. Notre Dame is just asking for a prime-time slot on ABC, which means Texas can prove to the nation just how far their rebuilding has come.
2. Iowa State ( vs. Northern Iowa, vs. Iowa, vs. Toledo)
It seems like Iowa State didn't look too far away for non-conference games. The Iowa-Iowa State rivalry is almost always a game to watch, regardless of how either team is doing. Both Northern Iowa and Toledo ended their seasons with nine wins, so both bring some competition to the table. Although this non-conference schedule doesn't stack up well against others in the Power 5, it looks much better than the rest of the Big 12. Especially when considering the talent level ISU brings to the table, it should be a pretty difficult stretch for the Cyclones.
3. Texas Tech ( vs. Sam Houston State, vs. UTEP, vs. Arkansas)
Although its difficult for me to say, a schedule looks several times better with the inclusion of an SEC team. Each team Texas Tech plays had a winning record last season. Although the games against both UTEP and Sam Houston State are likely blowouts, both games will look with much better with the continued success of both teams through next season. Outside of Notre Dame, Arkansas is the best non-conference game for a Big 12 team this season.
4. Kansas ( vs. South Dakota State, vs. Memphis, vs. Rutgers)
In this case, easier scheduling might have been the better choice. This schedule doesn't look too flashy name wise, but Kansas scheduled quality teams for its non-conference this season. Memphis and Rutgers are usually good for a winning season at the least, and South Dakota State will be competitive, if only because Kansas has the potential to have many troubles this season.
5. OU (vs. Akron, vs. Tennessee, vs. Tulsa)
This schedule is similar to Texas Tech's but with much less competition outside of the SEC team. Both Akron and Tulsa are coming off losing seasons, and should end up being the warm-up fodder that OU scheduled them to be. This coupled with the fact that Tennessee is far outside its glory days leaves something to be desired.
6. TCU(vs. Minnesota, Stephen F. Austin, SMU)
Minnesota is what caries this schedule, by far. With a Thursday night game against Minnesota on ESPN, TCU will can make a statement against a team from the Power 5 early on. This would put them higher if not for the scheduling of SMU. Its hard to get any quality play out of a team that struggled to win one game all season.
7. Kansas State( vs. South Dakota, vs. UTSA, vs. Louisiana Tech)
Not much to look at with Kansas State's non-conference, other than the better than average Louisiana Tech. UTSA should be better than last year and it's always fun to watch and see if a Division II school can steal one away.
8. West Virginia ( vs. Georgia Southern, vs. Liberty, vs. Maryland)
This would be a great schedule if this article was talking about basketball, but sadly that's not the case. This schedule could arguably rank higher with the inclusion of Maryland, but Georgia Southern and Liberty are tastes you just cant get of your mouth.
9. Baylor (vs. SMU, vs. Lamar, vs. Rice)
Who knew a team like Rice would keep Baylor from being ranked last? Rice has a winning schedule and that's really the only thing keeping them from being tied with OSU or being ranked last themselves. At least Buffalo isn't there anymore.
10. OSU (vs. Central Michigan, vs. Central Arkansas, vs. UTSA)
OSU was just one Central university away from the hat-trick. Although Central Michigan and Central Arkansas don't have losing schedules, neither team is the type of competition that will impress voters at the end of the season.