BYU football gets first Big 12 schedule, draws Oklahoma, Cincinnati and Texas Tech at home

The Cougars will open Big 12 play on the road in Kansas.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) in football action between the Brigham Young Cougars and the Wyoming Cowboys at LaVell Edwards Stadium in Provo, on Saturday, Sept. 24, 2022.

After over a decade of football independence, BYU’s first Big 12 schedule arrived on Wednesday.

The Cougars will play a nine-game conference schedule — five on the road — in their first Power Five campaign.

BYU’s conference schedule will begin with a trip to Kansas on Sept. 23. The first Big 12 game in Provo will be against Cincinnati on a Friday night. Oklahoma, Texas Tech and Iowa State will also be visiting Provo.

BYU will round out its conference road schedule with trips to TCU, Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma State.

Here are four thoughts on BYU’s first introduction to its new conference:

The newcomer treatment?

There was the thought out there that BYU’s first Big 12 schedule could be overly harsh with travel. As a new member of the league, sometimes a team has to pay its dues.

But upon initial glance, BYU’s schedule is quite balanced and fair. It will have to make one cross-country trip to West Virginia, but other than that it will stay in Texas and the Midwest. Notably, it won’t have to travel to Florida to play UCF and the Cincinnati game is at home.

There are some difficult road games in there, yes. A trip to national runner-up TCU awaits, and the Cougars will have to play Texas on the road. Stillwater isn’t an easy place to play either.

That said, for every challenging road game, BYU does get some winnable and marquee games at home. Opening up against Cincinnati, a fellow newcomer, is a good draw for a Friday night. Oklahoma coming to Provo will also be a big milestone for the program.

Overall, BYU got about the best it could expect with this schedule. It has more road games (5) than home games (4), but it won’t play a single team off its bye week. The harshest travel swing will be playing Texas and West Virginia on the road back-to-back.

Other newcomers, like Cincinnati and Houston, ended up getting five home games rather than four. Still, those schedules have other downsides. Cincinnati, for example, has to make the trip to both Utah and West Virginia.

No Baylor, Houston or UCF

Perhaps one of the more interesting parts of this schedule is who BYU doesn’t play this year. It will not play Baylor or Houston in the first year in the league.

That stands out mainly for rivalry purposes. New Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark has spoken about needing to create natural rivalries as the conference heads into a new era. With Texas and Oklahoma leaving, and four new teams introduced, there aren’t many longstanding histories in the league.

From BYU’s perspective, this was especially true. It doesn’t have a history, or any geographical connection, with many teams in the conference. Probably the closest it has to a rivalry is with Baylor, who it’s played the last two years. Last year, BYU beat Baylor in a double-overtime classic, leading many to believe the BYU-Baylor series would be a nice launching point for the new Big 12.

Yet, with this schedule, BYU doesn’t play Baylor. It also doesn’t play Houston, a fellow newcomer who BYU has a past with. The two have met three times since 2013. It doesn’t play UCF either, another team BYU’s played three times since 2011.

There are other ways to create rivalries. Still, from BYU’s schedule, this opening calendar doesn’t necessarily lean into that history.

The two departing members

How the Big 12 treated the two departing members of the league, Texas and Oklahoma, was of less concern for BYU. For the Cougars, the more interesting part was whether or not they were on the schedule.

In the end, BYU drew both Texas and Oklahoma in what is potentially their final season in the Big 12. The schedule splits the difference with BYU heading to Austin and the Sooners coming to Provo.

Oklahoma, which has never come to Utah, will be the final home game of the season. Getting these two conference opponents in 2023 gives BYU’s schedule two names the fanbase can immediately recognize (especially with the absence of Baylor and Houston on the schedule). Many of the other opponents for now will be teams BYU has never visited or played.

Bye week early

BYU will finally get a bye week before the month of November. This year, the bye will come in Week 6, right before visiting TCU. It means this schedule will be more comparable to what other Power Five programs do.

Last year, as an independent, BYU’s bye did not come until Week 10. At that point, too many injuries had already accumulated and the season was basically over (the next game was against Utah Tech). BYU’s bye came in November of the 2021 season, too.

This bye week at least gives BYU the chance to rest at about the midway point. It also gives the program two weeks to prepare for the reigning conference champions.