Five easiest 2024 football schedules in the Big 12: Find out where Red Raiders fit in

It is possible that the Texas Tech football team has the easiest overall schedule of any Big 12 team in 2024.
Texas Tech hosts their Spring Game, Saturday, April 20, 2024, at the Sports Performance Center.
Texas Tech hosts their Spring Game, Saturday, April 20, 2024, at the Sports Performance Center. / Annie Rice/Avalanche-Journal / USA TODAY

From 2011-22, talk about scheduling inequalities in the Big 12 was rather pointless given that the league had a round-robin format with each member institution playing the other nine schools every year. That changed in 2023 with the conference's expansion to 14 teams and now that the league will move to 16 teams in 2024, yearly scheduling differences will be a reality and a talking point every offseason.

Big 12 teams still face nine conference games a season but now the opponents vary from season to season. Interestingly, the conference has released its slate of future opponents by giving us a look at the conference scheduling matrix all the way through 2027.

Annually, the Big 12 could be decided as much by who each team doesn't play as it is by who a team does face off with on the field. So let's take a look at the teams that have the five easiest schedules in the conference this season.

5. . . . . . . 462. Big 12.

This could be a breakthrough year for Kansas, a program that was essentially dormant until Lance Leipold arrived in 2021. While the Jayhawks return tons of talent from last season's 9-4 team, much of their success in 2024 could be because of a very manageable schedule.

In the non-conference, KU plays FCS opponent Lindenwood and UNLV (which KU beat 49-36 in last season's Guaranteed Rate Bowl) in home games sandwiched around a road trip to face an Illinois team that was just 5-7 last season.

In conference play, KU does have to play at rival Kansas State and at a West Virginia program that went 9-4 last fall. However, the other road trips on the schedule are against Baylor, BYU, and Arizona State, three teams that were below .500 last season.

KU also gets to play what is expected to be a bad Houston squad in year one of a new coaching staff and a TCU team that missed out on a bowl game last year with both being games at home. Two other home games against Iowa State and Colorado could be tricky to manage but in each, KU should be favored to win. Meanwhile, KU is going to miss playing conference favorites Arizona, Oklahoma State, and Utah.

. 4. Big 12. . . . . . . 461

Iowa State's annual rivalry game with Iowa is always tough for the Cyclones and this year it will be played on the road. But two other nonconference games against North Dakota and Arkansas State should be manageable.

In the conference, ISU does have to play potential power, Utah on the road. That's the only new Big 12 team that the Cyclones face meaning they miss Arizona and Colorado along with projected doormat Arizona State.

ISU has to play only four road games in Big 12 action this year but trips to Kansas and West Virginia could be tough. At home is where the Cyclones could make hay, though. Cincinnati, UCF, and Baylor all were below .500 last year and Texas Tech was just one game over. Kansas State will be tough to beat in that rivalry game in Ames, however.

. . . . . 455. . Big 12. . 3

Outside of the Big 12, UCF gets a shot to tangle with one of the state's big brothers, Florida, in the Swamp. However, Florida was just 5-7 last year and won't be expected to be an SEC power this fall either. Other non-conference games against New Hampshire and Sam Houston should be no problem.

The Knights have a workable Big 12 slate as well. In Cincinnati, TCU, BYU, Arizona State, and Colorado, the Knights play five teams with losing records in 2023.

Arizona, a conference favorite, has to come to Orlando making that a key swing game for the year. A trip to Morgantown, West Virginia will also be a challenge for UCF.

. . . 2. 511. Big 12. . . .

One reason so many people are high on Arizona is that the Wildcats have a fairly workable schedule in 2024. They do play at Big 12 foe Kansas State in a non-conference game that was already on the books but games with New Mexico and Northern Arizona should be no problem.

In league action, they host only two teams with winning records last year, Texas Tech and West Virginia. Other home tilts with Colorado, Houston, and Arizona State should be winnable.

On the road, the September 28th game at Utah will be massive. But Arizona should be favored in games at BYU, UCF, and TCU.

. . 1. . . 468. Big 12. . .

The Big 12's easiest overall schedule belongs to Texas Tech which opens with a home game against FCS weakling Abilene Christian and then two weeks later hosts a North Texas team that was just 5-7 last year. In between is a road trip to a depleted Washington State team that lost its star QB to Miami and its star WR to Tech via the portal.

In Big 12 games, Tech will have five winnable home games with Cincinnati, Arizona State, Baylor, Colorado, and West Virginia. Joey McGuire's team should also be able to get off to a good start with five of the first seven games in Lubbock.

Road trips to Arizona, Iowa State, and Oklahoma State will tell us how good the Red Raiders are. Still, Tech has the luxury of missing out on Utah, Kansas, and Kansas State this season, three prime conference contenders. Maybe this extremely manageable schedule is going to allow McGuire to have the big breakthrough that Tech fans have been waiting for since he arrived.