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The new era of Big 12 schedules began in 2023 and has become even more complicated now that the league has grown to 16 teams, something fans are still getting used to.

For over a decade, the Big 12 was the only major conference in the country to offer a true round-robin format, guaranteeing that every team faced every conference opponent year after year.

Now, however, the reality is that each season will feature unbalanced schedules for each program. For example, some teams will benefit from five home games in the conference while others will have only four (which was the case during the era of round-robin schedules).

However, what will really help determine the outcome of the Big 12 regular-season race is the opponents each team plays and the opponents each team misses each season. This is where the 2024 Red Raiders might have had a chance.

This fall, the Red Raiders will not face three of the top five teams in the Big 12 preseason poll, and Tech will have the extra home game in the conference this year.

Still, there are teams that aren't on the Red Raiders' schedule that we think Joey McGuire's team should get a chance against in 2024. Let's take a look at who we think the Red Raiders should be playing this fall.

Texas Tech has faced the Houston Cougars each of the last three seasons. In 2021, the teams met at NRG Stadium in Houston to open the season, and in 2022 and 2023 they played in Lubbock. All three games went to the Red Raiders.

In fact, Tech has won six straight games in this series. Unfortunately, that streak won't grow to seven in the fall.

It's a shame that Tech won't be able to play Houston this year. Not only would that give the program another in-state opponent, something college football fans in Texas look forward to, but it would probably be as close to a guaranteed win as the Big 12 can offer a team.

Houston is in the midst of a coaching transition from Dana Holgorsen to Willie Fritz. Transition seasons are never easy, but they are especially difficult for programs coming off a 4-8 season.

Houston was ranked No. 15 in the Big 12 preseason poll, a fair assessment of the current state of this program after the failed Holgorsen era left a mess that Fritz must sort out.

Tech probably would have had to play the Cougars in Houston this year, but that wouldn't have been too much of a challenge since Houston still doesn't have a top-to-bottom Big 12 roster and the Cougars are in their first year with a new coaching staff, so it's not a good year to skip the Houston game.

Sure, Kansas was ranked No. 4 in the Big 12 preseason poll. And yes, KU has a dynamic starting QB and RB combination in Jalon Daniels and Devin Neal.

However, if you have to play one of the top teams in the conference, you definitely want to play Kansas, especially if your name is Texas Tech.

The Jayhawks just can't solve the Red Raider puzzle. They have lost 23 of 25 games in the series, including the last four games.

Plus, Kansas would have had to come to Lubbock this time after the Red Raiders pulled off a last-second 16-13 win in Lawrence in 2023. KU hasn't won in Lubbock since 2001, eight games, so there's confidence in Tech's ability to beat them in 2024.

Additionally, there's reason to believe KU is one of the more overrated teams in the conference. That's because Daniels can't stay healthy and because they've ceded control of their offense to new OC Jeff Grimes, who coordinated one of the worst offenses in the Big 12 at Baylor in 2023.

It's impossible to miss all of the conference's top contenders in one year. This season, Tech plays Arizona and Oklahoma State on the road, but not Utah, Kansas State or Kansas. It would be much more beneficial for Tech to play the Jayhawks rather than the Wildcats or Cowboys, because that program just seems to have a handle on KU.

And finally, wouldn't every Texas Tech fan want another chance against the BYU Cougars? After all, the game between the two programs in 2023 was not a fair fight.

Remember, in BYU's 27-14 win in Provo, Utah last season, Tech had to use freshman Jake Strong at quarterback because Behren Morton suffered a shoulder injury. It proved to be a disastrous turn of events.

Playing a night game in a difficult away game, Strong looked like what you'd expect a true freshman to look like in his first career start. He was just 19-37 and threw for 236 yards and a touchdown. He also threw three interceptions and lost a fumble on a botched handoff exchange with running back Tahj Brooks.

What made Texas Tech fans so angry about this game was the fact that BYU was a bad team in 2023. In fact, they didn't win another game after beating Tech, as they lost their final five games to finish 5-7 overall and 2-7 in the Big 12.

Not much more is expected of BYU this year. They were picked 13th in the conference preseason poll and are unlikely to rebound this season given the contentious quarterback position and the fact that the defense is plagued with issues of its own.

But the reason Tech would love to play BYU this season is deeper. It's because last year's game was pretty heated, with BYU getting more trash-talked and antics as the lead grew. Tech would love to avenge that horrific loss and show the Cougars what the Red Raiders look like with Behren Morton at QB. But we'll have to wait until next season when BYU comes to Lubbock.

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