Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Rating the 2008 Non-Conference Slate, Part 6: SEC

Sorry for the delay, but real life and its associated things got in the way of me finishing this. So let's wrap 'er up.
  1. Florida (2 legit, 1 DI-AA): Hawaii, Miami (FL), The Citadel, @Florida State. Thanks to rivalry games, this is probably the most intriguing OOC schedule of any SEC team. Other schools (UGA, Auburn, Tennessee) have a single intriguing OOC game (well, for most folks) which puts them further down the list. Also, it's interesting to see that Hawaii can get teams to schedule them now.
  2. Georgia (1.75, 1): Georgia Southern, Central Michigan, @Arizona State, Georgia Tech. Georgia Southern fans are, of course, licking their chops for another shot at the in-state favorites. While I'd love to see it, I'm not nearly as optimistic as them. I've said a million times in this space how amazing it is to see UGA travel further west than Fayetteville, Arkansas for a regular season football game - again, the first time since 1965. And, of course, there's that pesky contest two days after Thanksgiving...
  3. South Carolina (1.5, 1): North Carolina State, Wofford, Alabama-Birmingham, @Clemson. NCSU is a good OOC choice, and Clemson is, of course, the rivalry game. A little meatier than the fare The Visor typically puts on his OOC plate, but overall still pretty mediocre.
  4. Arkansas (1, 1): Western Illinois, Louisiana-Monroe, @Texas, Tulsa. I always like seeing the old SWC rivalries renewed, Texas-Arkansas being the chief among them. I don't know if Arkansas fans consider LSU or Texas a bigger rival at this point, but it's always a treat regardless. The rest of the schedule is a joke.
  5. Auburn (1, 1): Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia, Southern Mississippi, Tennessee-Martin. As most folks probably now by now, Southern Miss fired their long time coach after last season. I expect to see morale fall off the table at USM and it will probably be a long time before they start scaring the heavyweights again. UL-M and UT-Martin and the typical joke options here, but it was a real toss-up for me whether to put West Virginia ahead of Texas or not. Either way, WVU is not typical SEC fare so this should be an extremely interesting game on the Plains.
  6. Tennessee (1, 0): Alabama-Birmingham, @California-Los Angeles, Northern Illinois, Wyoming. Tennessee once again schedules a Pac-10 team, and also manages not to play any DI-AA teams. A commendable thing to be sure, because while UAB, NIU, and Wyoming may not be much more likely to beat the Vols than the Samfords of the world at least they have something of a chance.
  7. Alabama (1, 0.5): N-Clemson, Tulane, Western Kentucky, Arkansas State. Huge neutral site matchup versus Clemson at the Georgia Dome to open up the season for 'Bama. Fun fact: did you know that Tulane was one of the original 13 members of the SEC? Indeed they were, leaving the conference in 1966 due mostly to being terrible. (The other original members were Suwanee and Georgia Tech.)
  8. Vanderbilt (0.75, 0): @Miami (OH), Duke, Rice, @Wake Forest. Vandy schedules to their level, but also lacks DI-AA teams. A good job here. I would expect them go to 3-1 against this schedule, but I don't know for sure how they're going to fare this year.
  9. Mississippi State (0.75, 1): @Louisiana Tech, Southeast Louisiana, @Georgia Tech, Middle Tennessee State. Remember how I said GT used to be in the SEC? And that only 3 schools have left? So, you may be thinking that GT-MSU will be restoring some ancient rivalry that dates back to the very beginnings of college football, having been in the same conference all those years. And you would be wrong. Georgia Tech and Miss State have played each other twice, in 1908 and 1929, while both were still members of the Southern Conference. (Tech won both games.) How was this possible? Until relatively recently, SEC teams could set their own conference schedules. Tech gained nothing by traveling to Mississippi to play Miss State or Ole Miss, and so they simply didn't schedule them.
  10. Mississippi (0.75, 1): Memphis, @Wake Forest, Samford, Louisiana-Monroe. We're starting to get into joke schedule territory, but at least Ole Miss is terrible. Also, the sports writing world misses you, Coach O.
  11. Kentucky (0.5, 1): @Louisville, Norfolk State, Akron, Temple. Kentucky was pretty bad for a long time, so they probably set their schedule accordingly. Nonetheless, when your OOC rival provides your only legit game you may want to re-examine your scheduling philosophy.
  12. Louisiana State (0.25, 1): Appalachian State, North Texas, Troy, Tulane. And I'm looking at you LSU. Seriously, who are you trying to fool here? App State (last year's DI-AA champs) may actually be the toughest team on this schedule, depending on if Troy can recover from their last game collapse last year. Looking at this slate too long makes me physically ill, so let's move on.
So that's all for now. If I can get the numbers worked out, I'll get you the hardest OOC schedules on a subjective and objective basis, at least as much as I can. This may take awhile (as in, a month). So, until next time folks.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008


I've been saying since the beginning of the year that Yunel Escobar should be leading off, since it was generally the only thing Escobar did better than Kelly Johnson last year.

So finally Escobar is leading off for the first time all season while Johnson is in the lineup. And lo and behold, he singled, stole second, and advanced home on another hit by Chipper. I don't really know about Mark Kotsay hitting second, but he has the hot hand right now and Johnson isn't, so I'll allow it.

Monday, May 12, 2008

Rating the 2008 Non-Conference Slate, Part 5: Pac-10

Today, we take on some of college football's strongest schedules in everyone's favorite 3 OOC game league, the Pacific 10. As a conference, the Pac-10 has the best average scheduling and they also have the fewest number of games versus DI-AA opponents with two.

  1. Southern California (2.75 legit, 0 D-IAA): @Virginia, Ohio State, Notre Dame. This is probably the best OOC schedule in the country this year. While we have no reason to think that Virginia or Notre Dame will be very good this year, they're still better than, say, your average WAC team. Oh, and yeah, there's that whole "Ohio State" thing that makes for probably the most interesting inter-sectional game of the year. USC deserves props for putting together this schedule at any rate, and using their OOC games as a national power should.
  2. Washington (2.5, 0): Brigham Young, Oklahoma, Notre Dame. While no one is exactly jumping with joy over playing Washington, this is still a pretty good schedule. Two legitimate games and BYU usually isn't a pushover. Unfortunately for Washington, they're entirely likely to go 0-3 against this schedule. Oh, and also they're apparently trying to change their awesomely out-of-date fight song. I mean, how can you go wrong with lines like The boys are there with bells / Their fighting blood excels / It's harder to push them across the the line than to cross the Dardanelles. (Just to make it clear, I am not being sarcastic here.)
  3. Oregon State (2.25, 0): @Pennsylvania State, Hawaii, @Utah. We're taking a break from the 2 BCS team schedules here to bring one that's still pretty darn strong. Two road games, one surprising at Utah, but still. While OSU should still win 2/3 of here, it's not a terrible schedule by any means.
  4. California-Los Angeles (2, 0): Fresno State, Tennessee, @Brigham Young. Did Fresno regain their mojo last year? While an early test at Rutgers will tell a lot, they also play the boys from LA which should be a demonstration of whether either team made progress. UCLA also has Tennessee's Annual West Coast Road Trip and a date in Provo that makes this a darn good schedule.
  5. California (1.5, 0): Michigan State, @Maryland, Colorado State. While this schedule lacks the sex appeal of some of the earlier schedules without a "name" big conference opponent, it's still got plenty of meat, especially if CSU doesn't suck this year.
  6. Oregon (1.5, 0): Utah State, @Purdue, Boise State. This is where it starts to go a little downhill, but for most conferences that usually happens much earlier than at 6th place. Still, good inter-sectional matchup over in West Lafayette and a BCS team playing Boise State is always intriguing. Still, Utah State pretty much sucks.
  7. Arizona State (1, 1): Northern Arizona, Nevada-Los Vegas, Georgia. Nothing to write home about here, except for, oh, yeah, the first time the University of Georgia has traveled west of Arkansas or Louisiana or north of the Ohio River for a (regular season) football game since 1965. Should be interesting, at any rate. The rest of this schedule sucks, as ASU is one of only 2 Pac-10 teams to play a DI-AA team.
  8. Washington State (1, 1): N-Oklahoma State, @Baylor, Portland State. And here's the other! While this technically features 2 BCS teams, one of them is Baylor. The OSU game will be in Seattle as well, presumably to sell more tickets to Oklahoma State fans. I've put the "N" next to it, but I suspect the game will technically a "home" game for Wazzou.
  9. Stanford (1, 0): @Texas Christian, @San Jose State, @Notre Dame. Fun fact: Stanford managed to have a schedule with only four home games on it. Stanford football, catch the fever! (Just not in Palo Alto.) Maybe I should try going to the Stanford@SJSU game just for the heck of it.
  10. Arizona (0, 0): Idaho, Toledo, @New Mexico. This is usually where I rail against terrible schedules, and well, I'm going to do it again. This schedule is terrible. Even though they play no DI-AA teams, and Toledo and New Mexico aren't terrible, every other team in this conference managed to play at least one BCS team from somewhere on their schedule, and the best you could do was this? Shame you on, Arizona.
Next, we'll wrap up the detailed overview part of this series with the SEC.

Friday, May 02, 2008

Rating the 2008 Non-Conference Slate, Part 4: Big XII

Onward, to everyone's favorite red-meat conference, the Big XII.

  1. Colorado (2 legit, 1 DI-AA): (N)Colorado State, Eastern Washington, @Florida State, West Virginia. Gets an edge over Baylor since FSU and WVU are better than Washington State, Wake Forest, and UConn. Also, Colorado is not Baylor.
  2. Baylor (2, 1): Wake Forest, Northwestern State, Washington State, @Connecticut. Good job getting 3 BCS teams, though I have to wonder if it's because they're being scheduled as a BCS-patsy.
  3. Oklahoma (1.25, 1): Tennessee-Chattanooga, Cincinnati, @Washington, Texas Christian. Not as exciting as Nebraska's schedule, but 2 BCS teams give the Sooners a slight edge. The away game also helps, and TCU isn't terrible.
  4. Nebraska (1, 0): Western Michigan, San Jose State, New Mexico State, Virginia Tech. This is pretty much Virginia Tech and nothing else. Don't get me wrong, this is another one of those inter-sectional matchups I like to see, but the rest of the schedule sucks, even if there are no DI-AA teams on it.
  5. Texas (1, 0): Florida Atlantic, @Texas-El Paso, Arkansas, Rice. Texas pretends it's in the SWC again and schedules an away game in El Paso for some reason. Nonetheless, they'll go 4-0 against this slate.
  6. Texas A&M (0.75, 0): Arkansas State, @New Mexico, Miami (FL), Army. Reprises the Miami game from last year, otherwise, not much going on here. Though @UNM raises an eyebrow.
  7. Missouri 0.75, 1): (N)Illinois, Southeast Missouri State, Nevada, Buffalo. I like the Illinois game. Not so much everything else.
  8. Oklahoma State (0.75, 1): (N)Washington State, Houston, Missouri State, Troy. I'm not going to look it up, but I imagine the Wazzou neutral-site game is in Seattle. Nothin' much else going on here.
  9. Kansas (0.75, 1): Florida International, Louisiana Tech, @South Florida, Sam Houston State. Man, these schedules are rapidly going downhill. I don't really have an opinion on this schedule either way, other than that there's not much to look forward to here.
  10. Kansas State (0.5, 1): Louisiana-Lafayette, Montana State, @Louisville, North Texas. And less so here, though I'm trying to remember my logic that ranked South Florida ahead of Louisville. Oh well.
  11. Iowa State (0.5, 1): South Dakota State, Kent State, @Iowa, @Nevada-Las Vegas. Well, at least they're not getting scheduled as a BCS patsy. Yet.
  12. Texas Tech (0, 1): Tulsa, @Nevada, Southern Methodist, Massachusetts. This isn't quite as bad as Indiana's schedule, but the TTU machine should have no problems putting up at least 150 points on this bunch.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Rating the 2008 Non-Conference Slate, Part 3: Big Ten

Tonight, we feature everyone's favorite arithmetically challenged conference, the Big Ten.

  1. Michigan State (2 legit, 0 DI-AA): @California, Eastern Michigan, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame. Not bad. Away game in Berkeley and the usual matchup against Notre Dame. This is one of the stronger OOT schedules.
  2. Purdue (2, 1): Northern Colorado, Oregon, Central Michigan, @Notre Dame. And except for the DI-AA team, this is arguably tougher, though it's hard to envision Oregon being anywhere near as good as they were last year, whereas I feel Cal is due for a rebound.
  3. Michigan (1.75, 0): Utah, Miami (OH), @Notre Dame, Toledo. Not really that much meat on them bones here. Utah is a somewhat ballsy choice, though, considering their consistency over the past few years, and ND earns a full one point just because.
  4. Ohio State (1.25, 1): Youngstown State, Ohio, @Southern California, Troy. OSU @ USC is probably the inter-sectional game of the year. This is just as big, if not bigger, than the OSU-Texas series a few seasons back. I wholeheartedly encourage this type of scheduling. Troy is also an interesting choice. Also, I doubt the choice of Youngstown State is a coincidence.
  5. Illinois (1, 1): (N)Missouri, Eastern Illinois, Louisiana-Lafayette, Western Michigan. The Illinois-Missouri border war resumes again this year in St. Louis. It's all downhill from there, though.
  6. Penn State (0.75, 1): Coastal Carolina, Oregon State, @Syracuse, Temple. This is the last decent OOC schedule for this conference, though Syracuse, just, ugh.
  7. Iowa (0.75, 1): Maine, Floria International, Iowa State, @Pittsburgh. Technically, there are two BCS teams here. Technically.
  8. Wisconsin (0.5, 1): Akron, Marshall, @Fresno State, California Polytechnic. Fresno State is the best team on this OOC slate. Culture clash with Cal Poly, though. Wisconsin operates several on-campus bars. Cal Poly has a campus-wide ban on alcohol.
  9. Northwestern (0.5, 1): Syracuse, @Duke, Southern Illinois, Ohio. Again, technically, there are two BCS schools on this schedule.
  10. Minnesota (0, 1): Northern Illinois, @Bowling Green, Montana State, Florida Atlantic. Meanwhile, there are none on these last two schedules. This is slightly less pathetic than Indiana's schedule, because Montana State is a decent DI-AA team, FAU did win the Sun Belt last year (though Troy should have), and NIU and Bowling Green are good every once in awhile. Of course, considering how bad Minnesota was last year maybe they're worried about most of these schools.
  11. Indiana (0, 1.5): Western Kentucky, Murray State, Ball State, Central Michigan. Pathetic. Central Michigan is probably the best team here? I guess? I mean, this sort of scheduling just makes me sad.
Anyway, join us next time for an examination of the Big XII. Later.