Florida State has the nation’s best non-conference schedule. And nothing is even close. The Seminoles play OSU, Notre Dame and Florida among their four non-conference foes. What is this? 1976?
Florida State’s schedule does college football proud.
I’ve ranked all 64 non-conference schedules from the Power 5 leagues, and the ACC acquits itself well.
Florida State is No. 1, Clemson No. 2, Virginia 13th, Miami 20th, Syracuse 22nd, North Carolina 24th, Virginia Tech 25th, Louisville 27th and Boston College 28th. That’s nine of the top 28 schedules.
Compare that to the Big 12. West Virginia is eighth, Texas ninth, OSU 15th and Kansas State 18th. Then it dips to TCU 34th, Iowa State 37th, OU 38th and Texas Tech 39th. Then Kansas 52nd and Baylor 57th. That’s six of the bottom 31 schedules, which is OK but not great.
That’s better than the SEC, which ranks seventh (Georgia), 14th (South Carolina), 17th (Tennessee), 31st (Florida), 33rd (LSU), 43rd (Arkansas), 44th (Auburn), 45th (Missouri), 46th (Ole Miss), 48th (Kentucky), 52nd (Alabama), 58th (Texas A&M), 61st (Mississippi State) and 64th (Vanderbilt). Eleven of the bottom 34 schedules belong to the SEC. Nine of the bottom 22.
The Pac-12 traditionally plays strong non-conference schedules and that remains. The Pac-12 ranks third (Southern Cal), fourth (UCLA), 11th (Utah), 12th (California) and 16th (Oregon). That’s five of the top 16, which is a quarter of all the Power 5. That’s equal to the Big 12 and SEC combined.
Here are the rankings:
1. Florida State: Oklahoma State in Arlington, The Citadel, Notre Dame, Florida. Not even close. Far and away the nation’s best.
2. Clemson: at Georgia, South Carolina State, Georgia State, South Carolina. Strange schedule. Two heavyweights, two Division I-AA foes. But still better than virtually everyone.
3. Southern Cal: Fresno State, at Boston College, Notre Dame. No pushovers. Not one.
4. UCLA: at Virginia, Memphis, at Texas. The schedule dips fast. But if you only play one rumdum, you’re way ahead of the game.
5. Ohio State: at Navy, Virginia Tech, Kent State, Cincinnati. Solid schedule. Not great, but not terrible. Which makes it great in 2014.
6. Northwestern: California, Northern Illinois, Western Illinois, at Notre Dame. The only real difference from Ohio State is that the Buckeyes aren’t playing a I-AA foe.
7. Georgia: Clemson, Troy, Charleston Southern, Georgia Tech. Two legitimate opponents. The Bulldogs will have their SEC charter revoked.
8. West Virginia: Alabama in Atlanta, Towson, at Maryland. I still wish West Virginia was playing Pitt, but this is a good schedule.
9. Texas: North Texas, Brigham Young, UCLA in Arlington. Welcome to the big time, Charlie Strong.
10. Wisconsin: LSU in Houston, Western Illinois, Bowling Green, South Florida. The OSU-Mississippi State game of 2013 at Reliant Stadium has become LSU-Wisconsin.
11. Utah: Idaho State, Fresno State, Michigan. Kudos to the Utes. Of all the newcomers to the Power 5, the Utes have answered the scheduling bell.
12. California: at Northwestern, Sacramento State, Brigham Young. Two losable games out of three. Can’t ask for much more than that.
13. Virginia: UCLA, Richmond, at Brigham Young, Kent State. A Texas-like schedule (both UCLA and BYU).
14. South Carolina: East Carolina, Furman, South Alabama, at Clemson. If you’re going to play a mid-major, you can find a lot easier foes than East Carolina.
15. Oklahoma State: Florida State in Arlington, Missouri State, Texas-San Antonio. Playing one great opponent put you ahead of the game.
16. Oregon: South Dakota, Michigan State, Wyoming. Great September matchup against Sparty. That’s a Rose Bowl quality game.
17. Tennessee: Utah State, Arkansas State, at Oklahoma, Tennessee-Chattanooga. Utah State is an example of a non-brand name that could be tough.
18. Kansas State: Stephen F. Austin, Auburn, Texas-El Paso. A virtual replica of OSU’s schedule – a national power, a Division I-AA foe and a Texas-hyphen. The only difference? Auburn comes to Manhattan.
19. Michigan State: Jacksonville State, at Oregon, Eastern Michigan, Wyoming. Michigan State in Eugene is a whale of a matchup.
20. Miami: Florida A&M, Arkansas State, at Nebraska, Cincinnati. This would rank higher if the Huskers were their old selves.
21. Michigan: Appalachian State, at Notre Dame, Miami-Ohio, Utah. Good schedule. Just not great.
22. Syracuse: Villanova, at Central Michigan, Maryland, Notre Dame. The Orange is holding up its end.
23. Nebraska: Florida Atlantic, McNeese State, at Fresno State, Miami. It’s an OK schedule. Nothing too ferocious.
24. North Carolina: Liberty, San Diego State, at East Carolina, at Notre Dame. Not bad. Notre Dame plus two solid mid-majors.
25. Virginia Tech: William & Mary, at Ohio State, East Carolina, Western Michigan. Hokies always good for a marquee game.
26. Maryland: James Madison, at South Florida, West Virginia, at Syracuse. Not running scared in first Big Ten season.
27. Louisville: Murray State, at Florida International, at Notre Dame, Kentucky. Two in-state foes. When you’re in Kentucky, that’s not a good thing.
28. Boston College: at UMass, Southern Cal, Maine, Colorado State. BC has managed to schedule two fellow New England schools.
29. Stanford: Cal-Davis, Army, at Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish are propping up this slate.
30. Arizona State: Weber State, at New Mexico, Notre Dame. Where have you heard this before? The Fighting Irish are propping up this slate.
31. Florida: Idaho, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Kentucky, at Florida State. A very difficult schedule to rank. A fabulous game and three absolute rumdums.
32. Georgia Tech: Wofford, at Tulane, Georgia Southern, at Georgia. Deep South, thy name is the Rambling Wreck schedule.
33. LSU: Wisconsin in Houston, Sam Houston State, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State. LSU-Wisky is a great matchup; fourth time in five years the Bayou Bengals have opened the series on a neutral field.
34. TCU: Samford, Minnesota, at SMU. Decent schedule. The Frogs rarely have it easy in Dallas.
35. Iowa: Northern Iowa, Ball State, Iowa State, at Pittsburgh. Fascinating schedule. The Hawkeyes could go 4-0 with four blowouts, or 0-4, if Ball State has a pulse.
36. Purdue: Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Notre Dame in Indianapolis, Southern Illinois. The Boilermakers have played Notre Dame every season since 1945. But this is the last scheduled game until 2020.
37. Iowa State: North Dakota State, at Iowa, Toledo. Am I wrong for giving the Cyclones credit for playing North Dakota State?
38. Oklahoma: Louisiana Tech, at Tulsa, Tennessee. Sounds rougher than it is. Tennessee is way down. So was Tulsa last season.
39. Texas Tech: Central Arkansas, at Texas-El Paso, Arkansas. Welcome back to real scheduling, Red Raiders. Arkansas is an interesting series.
40. Indiana: Indiana State, at Bowling Green, at Missouri, North Texas. Mizzou is good. At least you can say that.
41. Pittsburgh: Delaware, at Florida International, Iowa, Akron. Iowa better be decent, else this is horrid.
42. Kansas: Southeast Missouri State, at Duke, Central Michigan. Can Duke keep the magic going?
43. Arkansas: Nicholls State, at Texas Tech, Northern Illinois, Alabama-Birmingham. Razorbacks have beefed up their schedule, if you can believe it.
44. Auburn: San Jose State, at Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Samford. Typical SEC – one good game, three duds.
45. Missouri: South Dakota State, at Toledo, Central Florida, Indiana. Central Florida won the Fiesta Bowl last season, but are the Knights a one-hit wonder?
46. Ole Miss: Boise State in Atlanta, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, Presbyterian. Will Boise State still be tough without Chris Petersen?
47. Illinois: Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, at Washington, Texas State. Washington better be decent.
48. Kentucky: Tennessee-Martin, Ohio, Louisiana-Monroe, at Louisville. Mark Stoops is no Brother Bob.
49. Washington State: Rutgers, at Nevada, Portland State. We’ve officially entered Yucksville.
50. Washington: at Hawaii, Eastern Washington, Illinois, Georgia State. UW gets an extra game for playing in Hawaii. Didn’t do much with the opportunity.
51. Minnesota: Eastern Illinois, Middle Tennessee, at TCU, San Jose State. Sad thing is, the Gophers would play this schedule even if TCU hadn’t come up in the world.
52. Alabama: West Virginia in Atlanta, Florida Atlantic, Southern Mississippi, Western Carolina. Embarrassing schedule for a national power.
53. Penn State: Central Florida in Dublin, Akron, Massachusetts, Temple. Embarrassing schedule for a, oh, wait. Never mind.
54. Arizona: Nevada-Las Vegas, at Texas-San Antonio, Nevada. A Bonanza schedule. Too bad Virginia City doesn’t have a team.
55. Colorado: Colorado State in Denver, at Massachusetts, Hawaii. The Buffs can’t play anymore and don’t even try to schedule, but ah, there was a time, my friends, there was a time.
56. Oregon State: Portland State, at Hawaii, San Diego State. The Beavers could have played a fourth game and chose not to.
57. Baylor: SMU, Northwestern (La.) State, at Buffalo. Pitiful schedule.
58. Texas A&M: Lamar, Rice, at SMU, Louisiana-Monroe. The SEC is tough. But it’s not this tough. Not tough enough to warrant a schedule like this.
59. Duke: Elon, at Troy, Kansas, Tulane. Who really blames Duke for such a woeful schedule?
60. Wake Forest: at Louisiana-Monroe, Gardner-Webb, at Utah State, Army. Wake really needs to learn how to schedule. If you’re going to play Duck Dynasty and Utah State, don’t do both on the road in the same year.
61. Mississippi State: Southern Mississippi, Alabama-Birmingham, at South Alabama, Tennessee-Martin. Sounds like the college choices of a kid from Montgomery whose ACT score is 17.
62. Rutgers: at Washington State, Howard, at Navy, Tulane. Big Ten, I hope you’re not proud.
63. North Carolina State: Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, at South Florida, Presbyterian. This is an embarrassment. An absolute embarrassment.
64. Vanderbilt: Temple, Massachusetts, Charleston Southern, Old Dominion. Same as Duke. I can’t blame Vanderbilt.