Now that it’s official and we know UCF, Cincinnati and Houston are set to join the Big 12 for the 2023 season, along with BYU there will be four new destinations for Big 12 fans to check out. And as conference realignment continues to occur in college athletics, the old days of driving a few hours and being at nearly every destination for your conference are a thing of the past. Depending on who you ask, that’s a good thing or a bad thing.
But regardless, with four new cities and campuses to discover in the Big 12, I’ve gone ahead and ranked new travel destinations for Big 12 fans.
1. BYU Cougars: Provo, Utah
Well, one thing that many of us living in Big 12 country don’t get on a daily basis are the mountains. I leave you with this view from LaVell Edwards Stadium.
I could stop there and justify BYU being #1 on this list, but when you factor in the opportunity to see and experience a whole new part of the country, many probably haven’t, there has a ton of reasons to put the program at the top of this list. listing. Provo is located on Utah Lake, also is a reasonable drive up to Salt Lake City. Depending on the time of year, you are a short drive east from skiing, you can hike, visit places like the BYU Museum of Paleontology at the BYU Museum of Art. The options are plentiful and while it may not be an easy journey, something tells me this is one of many Big 12 fans who will enjoy it for years to come.
2. UCF Knights: Orlando, Florida
Talk about the weather. Well, UCF might not be a nice trip in September, but if you’re a fan of Iowa State or Kansas State and you see a road trip to the UCF in November looks a lot more appealing. Add in a 30-minute trip from Disney World (UCF is on the east side of Orlando, while Disney is on the west side) and you’ve got a long weekend with the family that includes a football game with your favorite team and a day or two at Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, etc. Heck, if you make it a lads weekend, you have access to some of the best golf options in the country, you can catch an Orlando Magic game, or even another college football game (Gainesville is two hours away and you could theoretically watch a mediocre SEC football game with a 12:00 kickoff before a UCF night game).
3. Cincinnati Bearcats: Cincinnati, Ohio
Of all the new Big 12 teams, Cincinnati has perhaps the most similar cultural feel for many Big 12 fans. The vibe and culture of the Midwest will be important and familiar to many, but it’s also an area metropolitan much larger than many cities of the big 12. Cincinnati has professional football and baseball, so depending on the time of year, check out a new MLB stadium in the Great American Ball Park. The park offers vistas of downtown Cincinnati, Mount Adams, the Ohio River, and northern Kentucky, visible from most of the park. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe your NFL team is playing the Bengals this weekend and you can pair a Big 12 game with an NFL game on the same weekend. Cincinnati is also starting to be known for its craft beer scene, which many Big 12 fans will appreciate. For families, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens are often ranked among the best in the country. All in all, this will be a fun trip for Big 12 fans with a comfortable feel.
4. Houston Cougars: Houston, Texas
Before Houston fans freak out, there’s a big reason Houston is last on the list: it’s already a city that many Big 12 fans know. Several schools and Big 12 fans in Texas remember when Houston was with the league in the Southwest Conference and not only traveled there for football back then, but may already be living in Houston. , have family in the area and/or are traveling for business. It really isn’t a “new” city for many Big 12 fans. The Big 12 is also affiliated with the Texas Bowl, played at NRG Stadium in Houston, which attracts a mid-tier Big 12 team each season.
Houston is the largest metro area on the list and will offer everything from professional sports to concerts and an incredibly diverse food scene. There’s nothing you won’t be able to do in Houston that you’d want to do except avoid the humidity. It will be almost impossible.
That being said, I will be new to many of these cities when I visit campuses for the first time when they join the Big 12. If you are a fan of any of these teams and there are things things Big 12 fans need to do when visiting for a road game, please leave them in the comments!