Big 12 football schedules are getting better. They're still not good enough. Big 12 teams in 2008 will play 15 of their 48 non-conference games against fellow BCS-league schools. That's still a pathetic 31 percent, but it's a big improvement over last season, when the Big 12 played just 11 games against fellow big-conference opponents. The league willing to play the fairest non-conference schedule might surprise you. It's not the Pac-10, which is playing 14 of 31 non-conference games (45.2 percent) against BCS team. The ACC is playing 23 of 48 games (47.9 percent) against the big boys. The Big 12 is tied with the SEC, which also is playing 15 of 48 games against BCS-league teams, and only the Big Ten is worse, at 29.5 percent (13 of 44). The Big East is at 39 percent (16 of 41). Carrying the Big 12 load are Baylor, OU and Colorado. Baylor, which has more reason to dumb down its schedule than any Big 12 school, instead is playing three BCS-league foes: Wake Forest, Washington State and Connecticut. Colorado (West Virginia and Florida State) and Oklahoma (Cincinnati and Washington) are playing two each. Some of the Big 12 teams that are playing just one legitimate foe at least are playing a big-time team. Kansas State is at Louisville. Missouri plays Illinois. Texas hosts Arkansas. Nebraska plays Virginia Tech. Texas A&M hosts Miami. But Texas Tech continues its recent tradition of avoiding major teams. The Red Raiders play Eastern Washington, Nevada, SMU and UMass, though at least Nevada is a road game. Some weeks, the Big 12 schedule is so soft, television will be hard-pressed to present a decent game. On Sept. 6, OU-Cincinnati is the only marquee matchup. Next comes a batch of games all about the same: OSU-Houston, Texas-UTEP, Texas A&M-New Mexico. The Big 12 likes to project itself as a powerhouse football conference. The way Big 12 teams schedule says otherwise.
Texas Tech and coach Mike Leach are continuing a recent tradition of weak nonconference scheduling this year. The Red Raiders' lineup includes Eastern Washington, Nevada, SMU and UMass. Associated Press