Projecting BYU Football’s First Big 12 Conference Schedule

Oct 26, 2022, 2:00 AM | Updated: Oct 27, 2022, 10:36 am

BYU Football, Big 12, Baylor...

Will BYU football play the Baylor Bears on their first Big 12 conference schedule? (Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

(Scott G. Winterton, Deseret News)

PROVO, Utah – In late November/early December, we will find out the Big 12 schedule that will include BYU football for the first time. BYU officially joins the conference on July 1, 2023, but once the schedule is released, it will signify how close Power Five life is for the Cougars.

For BYU’s first two years in the Big 12, they’ll be in a 14-team, division-less league that includes Texas and Oklahoma. A 14-team league isn’t ideal from a scheduling perspective, as it poses some uneven quirks.

But it’s only a temporary two-year situation then the Big 12 will go to its namesake once the Longhorns and Sooners bolt for the SEC in 2025.

While everyone counts down the days until the Big 12 releases that first schedule with BYU, here’s my mock schedule.

Remember, this isn’t the official schedule; just a projection by myself. However, I factored in elements that Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark laid out earlier this month: protecting rivalries, geography, and everyone will play each other at least once over two years.

Non-Conference weeks for BYU football

  • Sept. 2, 2023: Sam Houston State
  • Sept. 9: Southern Utah
  • Sept. 16: at Arkansas

BYU’s non-conference schedule is locked in with an opener against Sam Houston State, which is moving from the FCS ranks to Conference USA. Then another home game against in-state FCS program Southern Utah, and a revenge opportunity in SEC Country against Arkansas.

After Tennessee bought out of the week one game in Provo, BYU replaced the void left by the Vols with the Bearkats. Giving us a potential glimpse of what future non-conference schedules will look like: one Power Five team (required by Big 12), FCS, and a Group of Five team.

With two home non-conference games, I’ll assume BYU plays five Big 12 games on the road and four at LaVell Edwards Stadium for this projection.

Sept. 23: Texas Tech

I have to think the Big 12 Conference will give the four new members a chance to host their first league games at home. And make them against some of the legacy Big 12 members that have been around from the beginning of the league when it was formed in 1996.

BYU hasn’t played Texas Tech since 1940. It would be a big game that would have BYU fans thrilled to signal the new era of Big 12 football in Provo.

Sept. 30: at Cincinnati

It will be interesting to see how the Big 12 Conference handles BYU football with General Conference weekend games. During the Mountain West Conference era, BYU played some late-night games at San Diego State.

Lining up Cincinnati here because both programs have a recent history of playing weeknight games. So maybe that could be an option to avoid any General Conference conflict, and it would highlight a pair of new Big 12 members squaring off on a national stage.

Oct. 7: BYE

BYU players and coaches have to be thrilled about future Big 12 schedules because it will mean the days of playing 10 consecutive weeks without a bye are probably done. Big 12 teams typically have their bye weeks scattered throughout October.

Oct. 14: at Baylor

BYU/Baylor has the makings to be a future rivalry in the Big 12. We will hold off saying it’s a game worthy of the final week of the season. But another midseason date around Baylor’s historic homecoming festivities could be an excellent spot to rekindle the series, this time as league foes.

Oct. 21: Oklahoma

BYU has hosted Texas twice in their history in Provo, but they’ve never hosted the Oklahoma Sooners. I have to think the Big 12 schedule makers are going to make OU and Texas travel to places they never envisioned playing in.

Oct. 28: at Oklahoma State

BYU football has grown used to the opponents easing up significantly towards the end of October and into November as an Independent. Those days will be numbered in the Big 12.

Once Oklahoma and Texas move on to the SEC, Oklahoma State will be one of the top athletic departments BYU and other Big 12 schools will be chasing.

Nov. 4: Houston

BYU and Houston have a solid history against one another. The two schools have played three entertaining games in the recent past, with BYU winning all three games. Houston is the closest Big 12 newcomer to BYU, so I’m assuming there’s a good chance these two square off a couple of times in the first two years.

Nov. 11: at Kansas State

The last time BYU faced Kansas State was in the 1997 Cotton Bowl, one of the greatest wins in program history. You have to go back to 1976 for BYU’s last visit to Manhattan.

Nov. 18: at TCU

It might be a reach to say BYU/TCU has enough juice to place toward the end of the season. But there was a time when BYU and TCU had a rivalry when they were Mountain West Conference rivals. Gary Patterson is gone, but the fans that have been around for a while probably remember those fun meetings.

Nov. 25: Iowa State

The projection of BYU closing out the season with Iowa State is tied to the Big 12 hoops report from Jon Rothstein that BYU and Iowa State will play twice on the hardwood.

Iowa State’s big rival is Iowa, whom they play out of conference every year in September. Then they have the rivalry with Kansas State that doesn’t have a set weekend it’s played. So it opens the opportunity for BYU/Iowa State to be the season finale. An FBS opponent on Senior Day will be a welcomed change from BYU fans.

Projecting the 2024 Opponents

Home: Baylor, TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas, UCF

Road: Houston, Iowa State, Texas, West Virginia

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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Projecting BYU Football’s First Big 12 Conference Schedule