OU football: Schedule not unexciting
I’ve received a couple of emails the last day or so from people comparing OU’s 2011 football schedule to Nebraska’s 2011 football schedule, complaining about how much more exciting of a slate the Huskers are playing.
And I agree. Nebraska’s schedule is more exciting. Because it’s new. Nebraska is playing a Big Ten schedule, with a bunch of new faces. Michigan, Penn State, Ohio State, Wisconsin. Heck yeah, that would be exciting. Just like it would have been more exciting if OU had joined another conference and was playing Oregon, Southern Cal, Arizona State and Stanford. Or Alabama, LSU, Arkansas and Tennessee.
But new can’t carry the day. Is Nebraska’s 2011 schedule all that much better than Oklahoma’s, other than the novelty factor?
Here’s what I did. I went through Nebraska’s schedule and found a partner off Oklahoma’s schedule. I tried to match programs in terms of prowess and marquee value. Didn’t always get an exact match, but I think I got close. Then at the end, you see who’s left over and determine which schedule contains more sizzle.
So here goes, with Nebraska’s opponents listed first:
Chattanooga=Ball State: The Moccasins are I-AA, but really, when you get a mediocre Mid-American Conference team, there’s no real difference.
Fresno State=Tulsa: Fresno State probably has a bigger name, but Tulsa’s had a better team in the last few years. And while Fresno State has a little exotic quality than TU, the in-state rivalry counters some weight. So this is a wash, too.
Wyoming=Kansas: The Cowboys stink. The Jayhawks stink. Dud games for both.
Washington=Kansas State: They even both wear purple. Both were grand in the ’90s, and if you argue that UW’s 1991 co-national title makes the Huskies grander, then you have to admit that KSU has been better in the 2000s. This seems pretty close to me.
Wisconsin=Oklahoma State: I’ll give you that Wisconsin has been better longer than OSU. The Badgers have been to four Rose Bowls in the last 48 years. Which is no small thing. But does Wisconsin have more national appeal than OSU? Maybe, but I don’t know that for sure. Wisconsin has the edge but it’s not big.
Ohio State=Texas: Midwest Longhorns. Southwest Buckeyes. These programs are very similar. Virtually the same in prestige.
Minnesota=Iowa State: Even their uniforms look alike.
Michigan State=Missouri: I would argue Mizzou under Gary Pinkel is better. Michigan State hasn’t been ranked No. 1 since 1966. The Tigers were there in 2007. But it’s close. Call it even.
Northwestern=Baylor: The Wildcats’ Rose Bowl run in 1995 was a story for the ages. And Northwestern has been putting up a fight longer than Baylor’s current mini-revival under Art Briles. But the truth is, their sizzles are about the same.
Penn State=Florida State: Another intersectional twin, except the Seminoles no longer have their old man winner and are expected to be a lot better than the Nittanys this season. I’d call it square.
Iowa=Texas A&M: More twins. Both guaranteed to break your heart.
So that leaves Michigan and Texas Tech. Michigan is a bigger name. Heck, maybe even a better team in 2011, though that hasn’t been the case in quite awhile.
Either way, you’re telling me Nebraska’s schedule is so much better because Wisconsin and Michigan trump OSU and Tech? Maybe so. But those Nebraska matchups are as exciting for their freshness as they are for their fight. Bedlam could be one of college football’s games of the year; two of the last three years, it has been just that. Hard to make the argument that Bedlam drags down the OU schedule.
Plus, remember the Big Ten schedule lightens up soon for Nebraska, when it plays Illinois and Indiana. Eventually, the Big Ten plans to go to a nine-game schedule, like the Big 12. If the Huskers keep a decent non-conference schedule — they’re scheduled to play UCLA, Miami and Tennessee the rest of the decade — then by all means Nebraska will have an exciting schedule.
But the idea that OU’s schedule is some kind of dud, well, that’s just silly. The only problem with OU’s schedule is familiarity. The only legitimate knock on the entertainment value of the Sooners’ foes is are playing mostly teams we’ve seen a bunch.
I don’t see why everyone thinks Nebraska’s schedule is so much better, other than it’s new.
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