Big 12 backing off back-loaded FB schedule in 2016

Kyle Hicks and TCU will open the Big 12 season in 2016 against Iowa State.
Kyle Hicks and TCU will open the Big 12 season in 2016 against Iowa State. Star-Telegram

The Big 12’s back-loaded football schedule, which brought lots of attention to league games in November but could be viewed as a factor in the large number of key injuries for elite teams heading into this week’s high-profile games, will not be repeated as prominently in 2015.

At least, that is the quick take from the 2016 Big 12 football schedule released Tuesday by league officials.

The season-ending games on next year’s Big 12 slate include Dec. 3 matchups between TCU and Kansas State in Fort Worth, Baylor at West Virginia and Oklahoma State at Oklahoma. All three of those contests will be played opposite championship games held by other conferences on what is commonly called “Championship Saturday” in college football.

Other notable 2016 matchups involving league frontrunners from this season include TCU at Baylor (Nov. 5), Baylor at Oklahoma (Nov. 12), Oklahoma State at TCU (Nov. 19), Oklahoma State at Baylor (Sept. 24) and Oklahoma at TCU (Oct. 1). The separation of those games on the conference calendar marks a strategic departure from this season, when the league’s top four teams in the current standings all played one another between Nov. 7 and Nov. 28.

Several league coaches, including TCU’s Gary Patterson, have expressed reservations about the merits of this year’s back-loaded schedule. Baylor coach Art Briles said during Monday’s news conference in Waco that he would have preferred a different method of settling the league title than having the Bears, who won or shared Big 12 championships in 2013 and 2014, play their three most pivotal games on this year’s schedule within 13 calendar days.

Baylor lost to Oklahoma (Nov. 14) and defeated Oklahoma State (Nov. 21) before facing TCU in Friday’s matchup of Big 12 co-champions from last season.

“Would I prefer to maybe split up some of these game? Yeah, no question,” Briles said. “But I don’t remember getting that text asking me what I wanted to do. And I’m sure (Baylor athletic director Ian McCaw) didn’t either. They deal you your hand and you play it.”

Another unique feature of this year’s slate that will disappear next season: having projected playoff candidates inactive on the final Saturday of the regular season. Among the top four teams in this year’s standings, only Baylor is in action on Dec. 4, when the Bears (9-1, 6-1 in Big 12) play Texas (4-6, 3-4) in Waco.

Three of the top four teams in the Big 12 standings – Oklahoma (10-1, 7-1), Oklahoma State (10-1, 7-1) and TCU (9-2, 6-2) -- complete this year’s regular-season slates by Saturday, meaning they will have no games on the final Saturday of the regular season opposite championship games from other leagues.

TCU will be the first team to open Big 12 play in 2016. The Frogs will host Iowa State on Sept. 17 in the only conference game that weekend. A week later, the Baylor-Oklahoma State matchup on Sept. 24 is the only conference game slated that weekend.

The first full weekend of Big 12 action will be Oct. 1, when all 10 teams are in action against one another. Highlights from that day include the Oklahoma-TCU game in Fort Worth and a Texas-Oklahoma State matchup in Stillwater, Okla.

Notable neutral-site matchups in D-FW venues include Texas-Oklahoma (Oct. 8, Cotton Bowl) and Baylor-Texas Tech (Nov. 25, AT&T Stadium). TCU will play a Thanksgiving night game at Texas on Nov. 24.

2016 Big 12 football schedule

Sept. 17

Iowa State at TCU

Sept. 24

Oklahoma State at Baylor

Oct. 1

Baylor at Iowa State

Kansas at Texas Tech

K-State at West Virginia

Oklahoma at TCU

Texas at Oklahoma State

Oct. 8

Iowa State at Oklahoma State

Texas vs. Oklahoma (Dallas)

Texas Tech at K-State

TCU at Kansas

Oct. 15

Iowa State at Texas

Kansas at Baylor

K-State at Oklahoma

West Virginia at Texas Tech

Oct. 22

Oklahoma at Texas Tech

Oklahoma State at Kansas

Texas at K-State

TCU at West Virginia

Oct. 29

Baylor at Texas

Kansas at Oklahoma

K-State at Iowa State

West Virginia at Oklahoma State

Texas Tech at TCU

Nov. 3

Oklahoma at Iowa State

Nov. 5

Kansas at West Virginia

Oklahoma State at K-State

Texas at Texas Tech

TCU at Baylor

Nov. 12

Baylor at Oklahoma

Iowa State at Kansas

West Virginia at Texas

Texas Tech at Oklahoma State

Nov. 19

K-State at Baylor

Oklahoma at West Virginia

Oklahoma State at TCU

Texas at Kansas

Texas Tech at Iowa State

Nov. 24

TCU at Texas

Nov. 25

Baylor vs. Texas Tech (Arlington)

Nov. 26

Kansas at K-State

West Virginia at Iowa State

Dec. 3

Baylor at West Virginia

Oklahoma State at Oklahoma

K-State at TCU 

All schedules are subject to change.

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