College football: Nation’s best schedules
We finish our series on college football scheduling by today ranking the nation’s best non-conference schedules. And you know what? I’m a little encouraged. There seems to be more really good schedules than really bad schedules.
Don’t misunderstand. College football scheduling remains mostly abysmal. Here is the standard non-conference schedule: one game against a fellow BCS-league team, two games against I-A opponents not in a BCS league or the Mountain West, and one game against a I-AA foe. There are 47 teams total in the Big 12, Big Ten, ACC and SEC. Of those 47, 17 follow that scheduling method.
But there are some shining lights. Here are the top 10:
10. Georgia Tech: South Carolina State, at Kansas, at Georgia, Middle Tennessee. Yellowjackets are one of five teams from BCS leagues playing two road games at other BCS league foes. They join Miami, Wake Forest, South Florida and UCLA. Four of the five are on this list.
9. South Florida: Stony Brook, at Florida, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, at Miami. Any team that plays at Florida and at Miami deserves a Stony Brook or two. (Personal admission: I didn’t even know Stony Brook had a football team).
8. Pittsburgh: at Utah, New Hampshire, Miami, Florida International, at Notre Dame. Three quality opponents, though if Notre Dame was the old Notre Dame, this schedule would be even tougher.
7. Oklahoma: Utah State, Florida State, Air Force, at Cincinnati. Three more quality opponents, though Air Force isn’t one of those scary Mountain West teams. If Florida State was the old Florida State, this schedule would be even tougher, and who knows? Maybe the Seminoles will be the old Florida State under Jimbo Fisher.
6. Colorado: Colorado State in Denver, at California, Hawaii, Georgia. This is a schedule designed to sell tickets and get Dan Hawkins fired. By the way, there are five Big 12/Pac-10 matchups this season, an unusually high number. Karma, anyone?
5. Washington: Nebraska, at BYU, Syracuse. When your worst opponent is from a BCS league, you’ve got a good schedule. And shouldn’t this be the standard? Shouldn’t Syracuse be most everyone’s baseline for worst opponent? How did we get to the point where it was socially acceptable for Alabama to play Georgia State (another school I didn’t know played football) Nebraska to play South Dakota State? Why hasn’t someone called out the National Guard?
4. Miami: Florida A&M, at Ohio State, at Pittsburgh, South Florida. Unbelievably entertaining schedule. An all-time powerhouse. Two really good Big East programs. And a I-AA school with a smashing marching band.
3. UCLA: at Texas, at Kansas State, Houston. Maybe you think the Bruins are ranked too high. Maybe they are. But they’re in that two-road-games-at-BCS-league-schools club. They’re playing a powerhouse. And look at it this way. Texas Tech is playing a decent schedule this season. Nothing great, but decent. Tech has SMU, at New Mexico, Houston, at Weber State. Maybe it wasn’t supposed to be a good schedule, but it’s not terrible. Tech’s toughest game (home vs. Houston) is UCLA’s easiest game. UCLA is the only team in America that doesn’t have an automatic non-conference victory, with the possible exceptions of Washington and Oregon State.
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