The college football season, mercifully, starts today. But before getting into the schedule for the weekend, let’s take a quick look back at the best, and worst, of this season’s out-of-conference scheduling.
First, some dishonorable mentions: North Carolina State (2 DI-AA teams, the only ones to do so this year) and Kentucky (for scheduling a neutral site game with Western Kentucky in Tennessee).
But who had the worst overall schedules in college football? Well, here’s a sample of all the teams that got a 0 for their scheduling:
- Virginia Tech: Appalachian State, @East Carolina, Arkansas State, Marshall. This is really kind of embarrassing. Appy State could well be the best team on the list. Nonetheless, it’s only the second or third worst schedule.
- Washington State: Idaho State, Nevada-Las Vegas, @San Diego State. See, Wazzou is just kind of terrible, so this is at least understandable. As in, they’re so bad that it’s entirely possible they’ll lose to SDSU.
- Mississippi State: @Memphis, Louisiana Tech, @Alabama-Birmingham, Tennessee-Martin. Also embarrassing. Miss State used to be bad, yes, but they’ve gotten better. There’s no reason to schedule like this anymore. Well, except for the four guaranteed wins I guess.
- Texas Tech: Texas State, @New Mexico, Nevada. It’s either these guys or Miss State that’s the worst. I’m going to go with this, simply because Texas Tech has been on the “shame” list for three consecutive years now, and it’s not like Tommy Tuberville’s going to rock the boat in this regard.
So who has the top schedule in all the land? Again, I am mostly considering not only score, but also interesting ineter-sectional matchups that aren’t rivalry games. So, without further adieu, the top six OOC schedules for the 2011 season are:
6. Southern California: Minnesota, Syracuse, Notre Dame. Barely makes the list, but these are all major conference schools, technically. Er… maybe I should’ve just gone with a top 5. Anyway.
5. Maryland: West Virginia, Temple, Towson, N-Notre Dame. UMD and WVU do play a lot, but it’s not an every-year sort of affair. Combined with the ND game and this is pretty decent.
4. Florida State: Louisiana-Monroe, Charleston Southern, Oklahoma, @Florida. @Florida being a rivalry game hurts this schedule a bit, but that will be the icing on the cake if the Seminoles somehow triumph over the Sooners.
3. Oregon State: Sacramento State, @Wisconsin, Brigham Young. Again, this is a good slate, with a cross-country road trip to Madison and a visit from the Stormin’ Mormons.
2. Pittsburgh: Buffalo, Maine, @Iowa, Notre Dame, Utah. Feels like Pitt appears on this list every year, but at least they use the 5-game OOC schedule to their advantage. Yes, they play ND every year but Iowa is pretty underrated every year and Utah is Utah. Solid, and again, maybe a platform to do a little more than get to the Orange Bowl.
1. Louisiana State: N-Oregon, Northwestern State, @West Virginia, Western Kentucky. Oregon and WVU on the same schedule made this decision pretty easy. Especially coming from a conference usually accused of ducking interesting OOC games, LSU knocks it out of the park with two potentially great and interesting games.
And finally, let’s close with the conference “legit” averages. That is, the average “legit”-ness of each conference’s OOC schedule:
- Pac-12: 0.323
- ACC: 0.281
- Big East: 0.263
- Big 12: 0.25
- Big Ten: 0.203
- SEC: 0.203
The tie between the Big Ten and SEC was broken by the number of DI-AA teams played (10 vs. 12, respectively).
So, with that, let’s talk some actual football! I’m excited, you’re excited, we’re all excited! Stay tuned for the weekend TV guide.