Big 12 teams must now play at least one nonconference game vs. Power 5
Big 12 football teams will now be required to play at least one nonconference game each season against a team from one of the other Power Five leagues or Notre Dame.
"Schedule strength is a key component in CFP Selection Committee deliberations," Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said. "This move will strengthen the resumes for all Big 12 teams."
No. 4 Oklahoma (11-1), the outright Big 12 champion, is in the College Football Playoff this season. But 2014 league co-champions Baylor and TCU were left out of the initial four-team playoff last year after both were 11-1 in the regular season.
Under the plan announced Tuesday by the league, each Big 12 team will have to annually play against the Fighting Irish or a team from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 or SEC.
"Coupled with the nine-game full round-robin conference schedule our teams play, it will not only benefit the teams at the top of our standings each season, but will impact the overall strength of the conference," Bowlsby said in a statement.
The Big 12’s new scheduling requirement doesn’t affect existing nonconference game contracts, though only Baylor and Kansas are without a Power Five nonconference opponent on their 2016 schedules. The Jayhawks are the only school without one scheduled for 2017.
Next season will be the seventh in a row that Baylor doesn’t play a nonconference Power Five opponent, but the Bears are set to play Duke from the ACC in 2017.
Baylor’s nonconference games in 2014, when then the Bears were the first team left out of the playoff, were against SMU, Northwestern State and Buffalo.
Kansas isn’t scheduled to play a Power Five team from another league until a 2018 game against Rutgers of the Big Ten, which the Jayhawks played this season.
Big 12 teams are 4-4 this season against other Power Five leagues, including a season-opening 38-3 loss by Texas at Notre Dame. The league also had as many games against lower-division FCS schools, going 7-1 in those games, and went 12-2 in games against other FBS teams outside the Power Five.
Texas and Oklahoma were the only Big 12 teams without any lower-division FCS opponents this season, and are again the only ones without any in 2016. The Longhorns were the only team with two games against top-tier nonconference opponents, and will also be the only one next season when they play Notre Dame and California again.
The new Big 12 scheduling requirement also states that teams should play no more than one game annually against teams outside of the Football Bowl Subdivision.