Big 12 football schedule matrix delivers for Arizona, ASU, Colorado and Utah

Long trips are limited, and key rivalries are safeguarded.

The Pac-12’s dissolution forced three conferences to restructure their schedules for the 2024 season and beyond.

The Big Ten was the first to unveil a new matrix with marquee matchups for the new West Coast members earlier this month.

The ACC followed earlier this week with a rotation that impressively limited Stanford and Cal’s bicoastal travel.

The Big 12 released a schedule model on Wednesday that perfectly reflects the realities of a conference that will welcome Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah next season.

The matrix spans four seasons (from 2024 to 2027). Each team will face each other at least twice. In the new world order, the Big 12, like the Big Ten, is sticking to a nine-game conference schedule. (Both the ACC and the SEC have eight conference games.)

Two fantastic rivalries have been preserved: Utah vs. Brigham Young and Arizona vs. ASU.

Colorado’s schedule includes several opponents from its previous Big 12 tenure.

Excessive travel is strictly prohibited.

There is plenty of competitive balance.

Nothing feels compelled.

The redesigned conference will feature campuses in four time zones. The so-called Four Corners schools, on the other hand, have a clear geographic fit with their peers in Texas and the Plains states.

It’s not like Stanford and California travel to the East Coast multiple times a year, or USC, UCLA, Oregon, and Washington travel to Maryland, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey.

During the four-year rotation, Colorado must travel to the Eastern Time Zone four times. However, the other Four Corners schools only make three trips to UCF, West Virginia, and Cincinnati. All of their other road games are against teams from their group of four or against teams from the Central Time Zone.

However, due to a lack of must-see games, the release of the Big 12 schedule model did not generate the same level of excitement for Pac-12 exports.

When the Big Ten released its matrix, the Hotline immediately checked to see how frequently Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State would visit the West Coast.

Even the ACC schedule was intriguing, with Clemson and Florida State visiting the Bay Area.

In contrast, once Texas and Oklahoma leave for the SEC, the Big 12 will be devoid of bluebloods. The resulting parity provides critical stability in the realignment game and should result in a highly competitive conference race every year, but it leaves only a few circle-the-date matchups.

Because of the Big 12’s high membership turnover, there are only four annual protected matchups across the entire 16-team conference. The new members are featured in two of them: the Holy War in Utah and the Territorial Cup in Arizona.

The Big 12, on the other hand, wisely played the hand it was dealt and did not force schools with no history to lock arms into the future. Utah and Colorado’s marriage of convenience, which had been in place since they joined the Pac-12 in 2011, has been wisely terminated.

Instead, the 16 schools will go through a balanced schedule rotation that, to be honest, looks like a long list of non-conference games.

Here is Texas Tech vs. Utah. There’s a game between Cincinnati and Arizona. And Colorado vs. Houston.

But that’s okay. Because, as college football enters a new era, the Big 12’s advantage lies in its schools’ geographical and competitive alignment — the collective acceptance of its new identity.

The conference is losing two big-name schools to the SEC and will have eight transplants by the start of next season: four from this year (Houston, Brigham Young, UCF, and Cincinnati) and four from the Pac-12.

The schedule matrix does not simply reflect this turnover. It is the model’s essence. Maximize your strengths, conceal your weaknesses, accept who you are, and avoid overcomplicating the situation.

The schools in Four Corners didn’t require much. They needed security for two fierce rivalries, as well as limited travel to the Eastern Time Zone.

They received both.

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