It took nearly a month, but we finally know how each Power Five conference will handle its 2020 football schedule with the Big 12’s announcement Monday evening that it will utilize a 10-game model: its normal round-robin format and an additional non-conference game. The Big 12 title game will be held either Dec. 12 or 19.
Let’s quickly run through some of the important highlights from the Big 12’s schedule choice.
The Big 12 Opted For 10 Games, Playoff Cover
In some ways, the Big 12 was the league best suited to transition to a conference-only model thanks to the league’s round-robin format. Everybody plays everybody, and it’d be easy to cut away the non-conference games.
But there’s one caveat to that idea: The Big 12 wants a shot at the College Football Playoff.
No league understands the importance of extra games quite like the Big 12. After all, the league missed out on making the initial CFB Playoff largely because its champions, TCU and Baylor, played 12 games while Ohio State, the Big Ten champion, played 13. That led to incessant talk about a “13th data point” and eventually the reinstallation of a Big 12 championship game.
With the ACC set to play 11 games and the Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC slated to play 10, the Big 12 did not want to risk having its champion fall a game short in consideration against the other conferences come playoff selection time.
That’s why the idea of a nine-game format in the Big 12 drew little to no support during conversations among the league’s decision makers.
When The P-5 Leagues Plan to Start
College football, outside of one or two bye weeks a year for every team, is a pretty dependable thing. Your favorite team is going to play and so is pretty much every member of the Top 25. That’s not going to be the case early in 2020.
Check out when the Power Five conferences are expected to start:
ACC – Sept. 11 (can start as early as Sept. 7)
Big 12: Mid- to late-September
Pac-12 – Sept. 26
SEC – Sept. 26
Big Ten – ?
That list speaks to how drastically different the Power Five approaches have been in their return to play plan. The Power Five leagues may have preached unity earlier this offseason, but they all went their own direction when it came down to it.
Looking for a positive development here? We get football and it’s spread out!
Normally, fans are forced to choose between high-profile games in each of the three Saturday TV spots. That will still happen some early in the season, but it will occur far less often. No more picking between a high-profile Big 12 game and an ACC showcase in the primetime window. You can watch both!
A dedicated college football fan – or writer – won’t have to miss any of the big games early in the season.
How Does This Slate Impact the Big 12 Title Race?
Not at all. Remember, the Big 12 is already the only autonomy league to play a full round-robin schedule. These teams face each other every year, and nobody is really greatly advantaged by the schedule shrinking.
Kansas remains the team everyone wants to play. Oklahoma is the favorite. Everyone else, until proven otherwise, is jockeying for the space in between.
The interesting part of this move is who the Big 12 teams plan to add in the non-conference portion of the schedule. Don’t expect any high-profile matchups here (very unlikely we see ACC and Big 12 crossover). But don’t be surprised if BYU is a popular call for the league’s ADs. Many others, however, will opt to stick with one of the three non-conference games already on the schedule. UTEP, for example, remains a natural partner for Texas.
(P.S. I’m sorry Kansas, I didn’t mean to take a shot. It’s just true. But thank you for providing us Pooka Williams. He’s great, and we as a college football community look forward to watching him more this season.)