Thursday, August 30, 2012

This Weekend in College Football: Week 1

Welcome back! This is my weekly guide to each weekend's slate of televised college football. In general, I list any game that is being televised on a national network, as well as several games that are on regional networks for the ACC and SEC. In addition, CBS Sports Network (CBSS) games are listed if they involve two Division I-A/FCS teams. Also, Georgia Tech games are always listed, regardless of video platform. Massive thanks go out once again to Matt Sarzyniak, for his meticulous listings of all college football on all media platforms everywhere.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:00: South Carolina @ Vanderbilt (ESPN): The season opens with question marks galore for the Gamecocks, but I have my doubt that even a James Franklin-amplified Vanderbilt can take them.

  • Texas Agricultural and Mechanical vs. Louisiana Tech (@Shreveport, LA; ESPNU): This game actually got postponed to October due to Hurricane Isaac. Alas.
  • California-Los Angeles @ Rice (CBSS): Remember that one time, a few years ago, when Rice was kind of good? That was kind of weird, wasn't it? Well, it's fortunately not an issue anymore, at least if you're a Bruins fan.
10:15: Washington State @ Brigham Young (ESPN): Given the fiasco of Mike Leach's firing at Texas Tech, it seems a little weird that his first game back as a college coach will be on ESPN. Now the question is whether he has managed to transform Wazzou in just one offseason to a somewhat competent outfit, because they will need to be to beat BYU. I'll take my chances with Leach.

11:00: Minnesota @ Nevada-Las Vegas (CBSS): Hey, it's football, it's on TV, and is probably one of the few games Minnesota will have a chance to win this year.

7:30: North Carolina State vs. Tennessee (@Atlanta, GA; ESPNU): This is the appetizer to the Clemson-Auburn game. Like most appetizers, it may offer some excitement but will hopefully not overshadow your main course. It's hard to get a read on either of these teams (a phrase I am really trying not to overuse in this preview). While NC State was mostly mediocre last season, Tennessee was ravaged by injuries to just about everyone. That said, the Volunteers still seem to be a team with more questions than answers, so I'm going with the Wolfpack.

8:00: Boise State @ Michigan State (ESPN): I'm having a hard time bucking the main thing I've learned about Boise going into this season: they're replacing, like, everyone on offense. Usually not good for an opening road game against a Big Ten school. I'll take Sparty.

9:00 AM: Notre Dame vs. Navy (@Dublin, Ireland; CBS): So they've done this a few times, so I guess having a game that kicks off at 6AM on the West Coast seems like a good idea to someone. Anyway, in this series, there's no reason to really favor Navy over Notre Dame, but there's plenty of reasons to root for the Midshipmen regardless.

  • Marshall @ West Virginia (FX): It's a rivalry game, which will provide an amount of intrigue that will last probably about as long as WVU's first two drives on offense.
  • Ohio @ Pennsylvania State (ESPN): Boy howdy some stuff sure did happen at Penn State during the offseason. I'm not really sure what else to even say, other than that they'll probably win this game.
  • Northwestern @ Syracuse (ESPN2): Northwestern should feel right at home. Oh, sure, they'll be in the Carrier Dome, but they're on at noon and on ESPN2, which as I was musing recently is pretty much the near-Northwestern-upset-power-hour. Beating the 'Cuse probably won't be much of an upset, though.
  • Western Michigan @ Illinois (ESPNU): Playing a MAC team should be nothing new for Tim Beckman, and being at the controls of even Illinois must seem like a huge upgrade.
  • Miami @ Ohio State (BTN): It's on BTN because, well, it's the Miami in Ohio. Anyway, start the clock on your brand new Urban Meyer, Buckeye fans, because he's the supergiant of football coaches: burns brightly for a short period of time and then ends in a fiery explosion.
  • Buffalo @ Georgia (SEC): Remember that one time Buffalo was good and Turner Gill parlayed that into the Kansas job? Yeah, times have changed. Or, more accurately, gone back to normal.
12:30: Elon @ North Carolina (ACC): I struggled to list these games because I just really have nothing to say about Elon or Richmond. I'm still trying to figure out how Julius Peppers's transcript from UNC was leaked online, though. I'm pretty sure at any rate that violates at least a law or two, right?

3:00: Richmond @ Virginia (ACC): Fun fact: Richmond are the Spiders, making them one of the few college animal mascots that isn't a mammal or a bird. Remember, though, that spiders are technically not insects, they're arachnids.

  • Miami @ Boston College (ABC/ESPN2): Well, BC fans, Doug Flutie is not walking through that door. Miami should roll.
  • Southern Mississippi @ Nebraska (ABC/ESPN2): Southern Miss should be a pretty solid team this year, by all accounts, but Nebraska should be solid-er, I guess?
  • Bowling Green @ Florida (ESPN): The fact that Florida is treating the game as a tryout to determine their quarterback either says something about the state of their quarterbacks or about how worried they are about their opponent. Or, most likely, a little of both.
  • Iowa vs. Northern Illinois (@Chicago, IL; ESPNU): Schools from the Midwest are okay with playing games in Chicago for the same reason schools from the South are okay with games in Atlanta: a lot of their grads migrate there because that's where the jobs are. Expect this to basically be an Iowa home game.
  • Northern Iowa @ Wisconsin (BTN): One of these days, Wisconsin will need to develop their own quarterbacks. Saturday will not be that day.
4:00: Colorado State vs. Colorado (@Denver, CO; FX): Note to the lunatic fringe of Georgia Tech fans who want the Georgia game moved to this week: games like this and WVU-Marshall are the sorts of rivalries played on opening weekend. I'd like to think we're better than this. Buffs should roll.

  • Clemson vs. Auburn (@Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Tigers-Tigers! For a game with names like this I should really have something to say about it, but it's been a quiet offseason for both these teams other than the big pieces they've lost: Micheal Dyer and Sammy Watkins. Presumably the latter is a large part of why Clemson is ranked coming into this game as well. That said, Clemson won't have a new quarterback, unlike Auburn, which should give them a slight edge.
  • North Texas @ Louisiana State (ESPNU): It looks like this game will be played, which means UNT will get their beatdown and subsequent paycheck sooner rather than later.
  • Jackson State @ Mississippi State (SEC/FSN): Even I'm not sure why I listed this game.
7:30: Hawaii @ Southern California (FOX): Yes, nationally televised beatdowns of Hawaii. This is what I needed. (In the off-chance there are any FOX executives reading this: that was not a sincere statement.)

  • Alabama vs. Michigan (@Arlington, TX; ABC): This is the big one. Well, I guess. The thing is, unless Denard Robinson is just so utterly fast and unpredictable that the straight-laced Alabama defense can't account for him, I'm not really sure how the Wolverines have a chance.
  • Rutgers @ Tulane (CBSS): Tulane had to relocate to Birmingham to practice this week. Fortunately for Rutgers, it looks like the New Orleans airport will be back up and running on or by Friday, still giving them enough time to get into town as normal. As if the Green Wave wasn't at enough of a disadvantage already anyway.
  • Indiana State @ Indiana (BTN): You only need to know two things about Indiana State: they are the Sycamores and Larry Bird played for them (in basketball).
  • Arkansas State @ Oregon (ESPN): I can safely say this about this game: points will be scored. I'm still pretty confident Oregon will score more points than Arkansas State, mind you. I'm just saying that this could be a very high scoring game. The over/under is set at 110 right now. I would probably take the over. This could easily be a 84-49 final or something like that.
  • Oklahoma @ Texas-El Paso (FSN): I almost wish I could watch this game. Oh, Oklahoma will almost certainly win. But still, if anything weird is going to happen on this day, my money would be inside the hill that surround the Sun Bowl in the dark of night. So, yeah, either this is the expected Sooner blowout or a very crazy UTEP win (as though there's any other kind).
  • Toledo @ Arizona (ESPNU): Holy Toledo! That's all I got. Though, there is a halfway decent chance Arizona is still bad enough to lose this game. Probably not, though.
3:30: Kentucky @ Louisville (ESPN): Here's another opening weekend rivalry game. I guess this is more of a measure of who is going to be less awful this year. Wait, this just in: Louisville is ranked? (No, seriously, I just noticed that.) And is apparently favored to win the Big East? (For what that's worth, anyway.) I guess I'll have to go with them then.

6:30: Southern Methodist @ Baylor (FSN): Baylor: probably still better than SMU.

8:00: Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech (ESPN): Yeah, wow, let's just, you know, have our most important conference game in the first week of the season. I'm so mad about this I used bold text right there just to demonstrate it. Despite that, the timing may actually favor us. VPI will be breaking in an entirely new offensive line and offensive backfield, as well as several positions on defense. Georgia Tech returns one of the most experienced offensive lines in the country, looks to finally have the makings of a decent defense, and has a legitimate offensive star in a-back Orwin Smith. On the flip side, Tech's (and remember: on this site Tech is always the one in Atlanta) starting an entirely new wide receiver corps and still has shaky special teams. Also, the Hokies still have Paul Bunyan-esque quarterback Logan Thomas, who, at 30 feet tall, needs merely to take the snap and fall over to gain a first down. (Well, at least, that's what it seemed like last year.) In addition, the game will be at night and in Blacksburg with all the attendant issues that brings. (The last time the Jackets went up to Blacksburg at night was the night everything went wrong when Josh Nesbitt broke his arm trying tackle a guy running back an interception.) Also, if you haven't heard this already, since the ACC has had divisions, the winner of the Coastal division has always been the winner of this game, and VPI holds a 5-2 advantage in that regard (with Tech's wins coming at Blacksburg in 2006 and in Atlanta in 2009). So chances are, this one will be fun, unless you're me, in which case I'll be losing my mind either way.

Programming note: I wanted to get a post analyzing this year's batch of rule changes in, but I only found the exact rule changes a few weeks ago after I started doing the OOC scheduling series and never got around to it. I'll try to do that in the next couple of weeks.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Rating the 2012 Non-Conference Slate: Epilogue

And here's the promised wrap-up.

First, the shaming. There are four teams that play two FCS teams this year: Texas A&M, Florida State, Pittsburgh, and Cincinnati. The latter two at least have a good excuse, as they need to fill out a five game non-conference schedule.

Due to our revised method of rating the "legit"-ness of teams, there are more zeros this year than in years past. Therefore, I'm only going to rank the top four worst schedules, which are somewhat arbitrarily decided.
  1. Dishonorable mention: the bottom four teams in the Pac-12: Utah, Washington State, Colorado, and Oregon. Especially the latter two, and really especially Oregon. I guess they thought they needed a breather from playing other major teams.
  2. Mississippi State (0, 1.5): Jackson State, @Troy, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee State. I don't really include the Kansases and Indianas of the world on lists like this because hey, they're awful, it's okay to not load up your schedule. But Miss State isn't really awful, so there's less of an excuse. I suspect they probably go with something along the lines of the "toughest division in college football" or some such.
  3. Texas Tech (0, 1.5): Northwestern State, @Texas State, New Mexico. There's nothing approaching a good team on this schedule, and there's an inexplicable road game to a school that isn't a full FBS member yet.
  4. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (0, 2): N-Louisiana Tech, @Southern Methodist, South Carolina State, Sam Houston State. There's nothing here that really justifies playing two FCS teams. Sure the game at SMU could be a challenge but I have my doubts
The top schedules list isn't terribly inspiring this year, and there's certainly no equivalent of last year, where LSU played both Oregon and West Virginia. The below are probably the top four non-conference schedules in the land.
  1. Miami (1.75 legit/0.4375 average, 1 FCS): @Kansas State, Bethune-Cookman, Notre Dame, South Florida. Three "major" teams, and a road game. Not bad.
  2. Clemson (1.75/0.4375, 1): N-Auburn, Ball State, Furman, South Carolina. Tigers-Tigers should be an interesting game, which is the main thing that keeps this above Miami because I ordinarily discount rivalry games for this purpose.
  3. Michigan (1.75/0.4375, 0.5): N-Alabama, Air Force, Massachusetts, @Notre Dame. Michigan-Alabama is one of the premiere matchups of the year, even if almost everyone thinks Michigan will lose.
  4. Syracuse (2.25/0.45, 1): Northwestern, N-Southern California, Stony Brook, @Minnesota, @Missouri. Quantity over quality for this one perhaps, though there is the game against USC. Even taking the average into account, the 'Cuse still comes out on top. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for their chances in most of these games.
While I'm at it, here's a quick list of teams that play only full-on FBS teams this year: Southern California, UCLA, Stanford, Texas, Ohio State, Penn State, and Nebraska.

And, finally, the ranking of conferences by their members' "legit" average.
  1. ACC (0.276)
  2. Pac-12 (0.2153)
  3. Big East (0.2125)
  4. SEC (0.172)
  5. Big Ten (0.1354)
  6. Big 12 (0.1)
 A-C-C! A-C-C! I suppose.

Anyway, real, actual football talk will be coming, and not a moment too soon. Until then!

Rating the 2012 Non-Conference Slate: SEC

First, a quick note: one of my favorite college football blogs, Sunday Morning Quarterback, is back. I've been following Matt Hinton's other efforts since he retired from doing SMQ four years ago, but none of them are quite the same as the more long-form, statistically-inclined writing he produced for his original blog.

So anyway, we'll wrap up our tour of this year's non-conference schedules with the SEC.
  1. Alabama (1 legit, 1 FCS): N-Michigan, Western Kentucky, Florida Atlantic, Western Carolina. Alabama-Michigan is one of the most intriguing games of this season, though it's hard to see how Michigan will win unless Denard Robinson is just utterly beguiling to Alabama's uber-disciplined defense.
  2. Mississippi (1, 1): Central Arkansas, Texas-El Paso, Texas, @Tulane. Ole Miss gets two teams from Texas in town. Will they be good enough to beat either?
  3. Florida (1, 1): Bowling Green, Louisiana-Lafayette, Jacksonville State, @Florida State. Not much to look at here other than the obligatory FSU game, which is why this is #3 on this list.
  4. Auburn (0.75, 1): N-Clemson, Louisana-Monroe, New Mexico State, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical. Tigers-Tigers is back once again. I was hoping Auburn also played Mizzou, but they'll be the other other Tigers in the SEC schedule this year. Also, I find it a bit odd that Auburn would actually play Alabama A&M, but A&M's probably just that bad that they're not as worried as they would be about playing, say, the Troys or UABs of the world.
  5. South Carolina (0.75, 1): East Carolina, Alabama-Birmingham, Wofford, @Clemson. Unfortunately, I had to break this tie backed on the strength of obligatory rivalry games. Us Tech fans tend to be a self-deprecating bunch, though, so it wasn't really that hard of a decision. Also, that makes UGA look worse, which is also always a good thing.
  6. Georgia (0.75, 1): Buffalo, Florida Atlantic, Georgia Southern, Georgia Tech. Suspicious Tech fans would probably that UGA is playing Georgia Southern, who run pretty much the same offense as us, as preparation for the game against us. To which I'd say, you're probably over-thinking it.
  7. Vanderbilt (0.75, 1.5): @Northwestern, Presbyterian, Massachusetts, @Wake Forest. Next year, this schedule would let Vandy get up to the 4th spot because they're playing two major conference teams (even if they are Northwestern and Wake Forest), but alas, UMass is still provisional.
  8. Louisiana State (0.5, 1): North Texas, Washington, Idaho, Towson. Well, there is that game against UDub. Honestly, the game I'm looking to most this year for LSU is the Arkansas game. Les Miles versus John L. Smith, a matchup of two of the probably craziest coaches in major college football.
  9. Missouri (0.5, 1): Southeastern Louisiana, Arizona State, @Central Florida, Syracuse. Now that the Mizzou-Illinois series is over, Mizzou's schedule is just that much more boring. How did it not work out for them to play Kansas again?
  10. Tennessee (0.5, 1): N-North Carolina State, Georgia State, Akron, Troy. If the Tennessee-NC State game were scheduled for, let's say, Octoboer, then I'm not sure anyone would care outside of their respective fanbases. But hey, have it to help kick off the season? Now we're talking.
  11. Kentucky (0.5, 1): @Louisville, Kent State, Western Kentucky, Samford. Not much to see here. Obligatory rivalry game, a MAC team, another in-state team that it would be really funny if they lost to, and an FCS team. Again, not much to see here.
  12. Arkansas (0.25, 1): Jacksonville State, Louisiana-Monroe, Rutgers, Tulsa. Well, I already used my Arkansas-LSU thing for LSU, so I have to figure out an alternate strategy to use here. Maybe complain about how last year this would be the last blurb I'd have to write? No, not quite true yet. Maybe point out that the UL-Monroe game will be at Arkansas's home-away-from-home, War Memorial Stadium in Little Rock? Maybe look up to see if the Rutgers game has a return leg? Let's go with that, because yes it does: the Razorbacks will make the return trip to scenic Piscataway, New Jersey. Well, I'm guessing it's scenic because the Wikipedia article only has a picture of dudes grilling Greek food on it and not any pictures of the town.
  13. Mississippi State (0, 1.5): Jackson State, @Troy, South Alabama, Middle Tennessee State. Watch out, Miss State: the last major conference team to visit Troy was Oklahoma State in 2007. They lost 41-23. Other than that, not much here to worry about for the bulldogs.
  14. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (0, 2): N-Louisiana Tech, @Southern Methodist, South Carolina State, Sam Houston State. I'm not sure if the LaTech game is a neutral game site game or not, as it could just be a home game that's being played in Shreveport instead of Ruston. Either way, A&M probably is probably as worried about this schedule as I am excited about it, which is to say, not very worried at all.
That's that! Soon, a hastily put together wrap-up of it all, and then hopefully the opening weekend TV guide in time for the kickoffs Thursday.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Rating the 2012 Non-Conferece Slate: Pac-12

The Pac-12 has slightly less variety in scheduling than it has in years past, unfortunately.
  1. Southern California (1 legit, 0 FCS): Hawaii, N-Syracuse, Notre Dame. One of the main reasons to like USC's chances at a title run is a soft, for them, non-conference schedule. They can reasonably expect to go 3-0 against this bunch. The Syracuse game is at the New Meadowlands (or whatever they're calling it), by the way.
  2. California-Los Angeles (1, 0): @Rice, Nebraska, Houston. An away game at Rice? Well, Rice Stadium is one of the more historic venues on college football (as covered here), but old stadiums are hardly intimidating for UCLA (well, or any of Rice's opponents, but work with me here). Nebraska will likely pose a much larger challenge for the Bruins.
  3. Arizona State (1, 1): Northern Arizona, Illinois, @Missouri. Illinois and Missouri aren't playing each other this year, but thanks to Arizona State, there'll only be one degree of separation. Also we get the relatively rare bird of a Pac-12 vs. SEC matchup.
  4. Washington (1, 1): San Diego State, @Louisiana State, Portland State. Good luck down in the bayou, Huskies, because you will probably need it.
  5. Arizona (1, 1): Toledo, Oklahoma State, South Carolina State. After years of pathetically weak scheduling, good on Arizona for actually getting a name opponent.
  6. California (1, 1): Nevada, Southern Utah, @Ohio State. Cal's always done a reasonably job of making eastward journeys, with trips to Tennessee and Minnesota in the past decade. Good to see they're continuing to do so, even if the Columbus stands to be somewhat more daunting than either opponent.
  7. Oregon State (1, 1): Nicholls State, Wisconsin, @Brigham Young. Wisconsin is certainly an interesting choice, especially considering their usual tendencies to stick to traditional Big Ten offense, in contract with the Beavers' more wide-open style. Of course, it would help if Oregon State were to actually be good again.
  8. Stanford (0.75, 0): San Jose State, Duke, @Notre Dame. Stanford plays Notre Dame ever year, so not a whole lot to get excited about. Though I wonder what the chances are of more Duke fans than there were Wake Forest fans when I went to a game there a few years ago.
  9. Utah (0, 1): Northern Colorado, @Utah State, Brigham Young. Savor Utah-BYU for the last time in a while.
  10. Washington State (0, 1): @Brigham Young, Eastern Washington, @Nevada-Las Vegas. I'm sure Mike Leach has already asked how Wazzou ended up in a position to have two road games against mid-majors. Also considering Texas Tech's schedules during his reign there, don't expect them to improve much in this department.
  11. Colorado (0, 1): N-Colorado State, Sacramento State, Fresno State. Playing Fresno isn't what it used to be, though I do like that Colorado is continuing to play their rival, even as other rivalry games have disappeared due to realignment.
  12. Oregon (0, 1): Arkansas State, Fresno State, Tennessee Tech. While Oregon will almost certainly beat Arkansas State, I'm pretty sure Gus Malzhan will still figure out a way to score a few touchdowns. 
Anyway, next up is the SEC, and then a quick wrap up. Until then!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Rating the 2012 Non-Conference Slate: Big 12

And now the place where non-conference scheduling goes to die, the Big 12.
  1. Oklahoma (0.75 legit, 1 FCS): @Texas El-Paso, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical, Notre Dame. To be fair, though, Oklahoma has scheduled some legitimate opponents over the past decade. Perhaps this year is just a well-deserved break? Or perhaps a sign of things to come with a 9-game conference schedule?
  2. Iowa State (0.75, 1): Tulsa, @Iowa, Western Illinois. It's always amusing when Iowa State beats Iowa. Especially since now we'll get the inevitable post-game video with the very, um, enthusiastic Paul Rhodes.
  3. Kansas State (0.5, 1): Missouri State, Miami, North Texas. Playing "da U" just isn't what it used to be. Nonetheless, this is a tough slate by Bill Synder standards.
  4. Texas Christian (0.5, 1): Grambling State, Virginia, @Southern Methodist. There's no equivalent of Baylor circa last year on this list, but that's okay for the Horned Frogs for their first year in a major conference since the dissolution of the Southwest Conference. I guess the game at cross-town rival SMU is for told time's sake?
  5. Texas (0.25, 0): Wyoming, New Mexico, @Mississippi. Texas also usually schedules well. This year is not usually, it seems. Nonetheless, the game in Oxford does provide some intrigue.
  6. Oklahoma State (0.25, 1): Savannah State, @Arizona, Louisiana-Lafayette. I don't really have any great insights, rhetorical questions, or other observations about this slate.
  7. West Virginia (0, 1): Marshall, N-James Madison, Maryland. West Virginia stays local in what I can guess is an attempt to make up for the travel they're going to have to do otherwise. Also, neutral site games with FCS schools? That's a new one. Also: how many points will WVU score on a Maryland team that can optimistically be described as "moribund"? My guess: a lot.
  8. Baylor (0, 1): Southern Methodist, Sam Houston State, @Louisiana-Monroe. If I'm counting Texas full-FBS schools correctly, the only Texas schools Baylor won't play this year are Houston and Rice. Oh, and North Texas. And UTEP. Okay, well, let's limit it to just former members of the SWC then. Yeah, that's the ticket.
  9. Kansas (0, 1): South Dakota State, Rice, @Northern Illinois. Speaking of Rice, well, Kansas will be doing to win two of these games.
  10. Texas Tech (0, 1.5): Northwestern State, @Texas State, New Mexico. And Texas Tech is again a front runner to awful scheduling, barely getting off the hook because Texas State is transitional. Then again, they scheduled a game at San Marcos. Though even by Texas standards I guess San Marcos qualifies as being less in the middle-of-nowhere than Lubbock does.
Next up, we follow the advice of Horace Greely and go even further west. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Rating the 2012 Non-Conference Slate: Big Ten

Time for everyone's favorite mathematically challenged conference, the Big Ten.
  1. Michigan (1.75 legit, 0.5 FCS): N-Alabama, Air Force, Massachusetts, @Notre Dame. One of the most intriguing inter-section games of the year has to be Michigan-Alabama. Also, by the time this is over I will probably actually finally know how to spell "Massachusetts".
  2. Michigan State (1.25, 0): Boise State, @Central Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan. The game against Boise is interesting for sure. The road game against CMU is interesting as well, but it's a shame they're terrible again.
  3. Purdue (0.75, 1): Eastern Kentucky, @Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Marshall. Too bad they couldn't play East Carolina instead of Marshall, because they had a pretty good theme going there.
  4. Ohio State (0.5, 0): Miami, Central Florida, California, Alabama-Birmingham. This Miami is the one in Ohio. Other than that, the only thing going here is the game against Cal, but nonetheless Urban Meyer's new crew will only have to leave Columbus 4 times this year.
  5. Pennsylvania State (0.5, 0): Ohio, @Virginia, Navy, Temple. I think it's pretty safe to say they have bigger issues up on State College than their out-of-conference scheduling right now.
  6. Nebraska (0.5, 0): Southern Mississippi, @California-Los Angeles, Arkansas State, Idaho State. In a different era, the game at the Rose Bowl would be more interesting, but alas.
  7. Northwestern (0.5, 1): @Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Boston College, South Dakota. In years past, this would've been good for a solid 0.75, but well, Boston College needs to stop being terrible.
  8. Illinois (0.25, 1): Western Michigan, @Arizona State, Charleston Southern, Louisiana Tech. I liked the yearly series against Mizzou, but I guess that's over and done with now.
  9. Wisconsin (0.25, 1): Northern Iowa, @Oregon State, Utah State, Texas-El Paso. I'm having a hard time figuring out anything to write about this. Wisconsin should pretty much steamroll this bunch, right?
  10. Minnesota (0.25, 1): @Nevada-Las Vegas, New Hampshire, Western Michigan, Syracuse. It's hard to really accuse bad teams of having bad schedules, especially when it's still entirely possible they'll lose one of these games.
  11. Iowa (0, 1): N-Northern Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Central Michigan. Whereas it's a lot easier to criticize the Iowas of the world for this sort of thing. There's a cash-grab and road-trip-to-Decatur avoiding "neutral" site game with NIU and their two in-state rivals. Oh boy. Look for this one again in the epilogue.
  12. Indiana (0, 1.5): Indiana State, @Massachusetts, Ball State, @Navy. Did you know: UMass will play their home games at Gillette Stadium as they transition to FBS? Well, this is their marquee home game for the season. I still like Indiana's chances, though, despite them being Indiana.
That's that. Next up, the saddest group of schedules in the land: the Big 12.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Rating the 2012 Non-Conference Slate: Big East

It's the Big East. Let's get this over with.
  1. Syracuse (2.25 legit, 1 FCS): Northwestern, N-Southern California, Stony Brook, @Minnesota, @Missouri. 4 BCS conference teams out of 5 non-conference games is kind of crazy, even if one of them is Minnesota. Nonetheless, this may say more about Syrcause than anything else. If they were as good as they were in the late-90's, would their schedule look like this? I doubt it.
  2. South Florida (1.5, 1): Tennessee-Chattanooga, @Nevada, @Ball State, Florida State, @Miami. USF benefits from playing both FSU and Miami (as in, "da U"). They might be the only major conference team to have three non-conference road games.
  3. Pittsburgh (1.25, 2): Youngstown State, Virginia Tech, Garnder-Webb, @Buffalo, @Notre Dame. The usual matchup with Notre Dame is in, but sadly, the Backyard Brawl is out. Also, traveling to Buffalo? I assume there's a 3-for-1 involved here.
  4. Rutgers (1, 1): @Tulane, Howard, @Arkansas, Kent State, Army. Again, traveling to Tulane? Well, I guess they can sell travel packages for New Orleans or some such.
  5. Cincinnati (1, 2): Delaware State, N-Virginia Tech, Miami, Fordham, @Toledo. Again, the only thing I can figure for this rash of mid-major road games are 3-for-1 deals. The Big East needs to get to 9 teams if for no other reason than because this 5 non-conference games thing isn't really working out for them, I'd say. Of course, I just remembered that this is Pitt and Syracuse's last year in the Big East. Whoops!
  6. Temple (0.5, 1): Villanova, Maryland, Pennsylvania State, Army. Yes, that's right, this is your only team in major college football with an 11 game schedule. That's a heck of a way to dive back in, though. The Owls will play their inter-city rival in Villanova, and then play Pitt in-conference and Penn State at home. Not a bad way re-introduction.
  7. Louisville (0.5, 1): Kentucky, Missouri State, North Carolina, @Florida International, @Southern Mississippi. The Cardinals go on the road to both FIU and Southern Miss? Color me perplexed.
  8. Connecticut (0.5, 0.5): Massachusetts, North Carolina State, @Maryland, @Western Michigan, Buffalo. Well, at least they'll have that 5 game OOC schedule thing fixed soon.
This will probably be the last year I include the Big East in this feature. Next year they will lose Pitt and Syracuse (the last two programs other than Rutgers that have any vague semblance of "tradition" or "history") and add Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, Southern Methodist, Boise State, and San Diego State. At that point, they'll basically be what Conference USA was before all these shenanigans started. Provided it even happens at all, which I honestly still have doubts about.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Rating the 2012 Non-Conference Slate: ACC

First on the docket is the Atlantic Coast Conference. The format for this, and subsequent posts, is to list each team from 1-12 with the number of legit points in their OOC schedule and then number of FCS (the subdivision formerly known as DI-AA). There are lots of ties of course, which tend to be broken in arbitrary ways. Usually, I tend to favor a quantity of other major conference teams over quality simply because it's harder to predict the ups-and-downs of your opponents (unless you're scheduling Duke) and so playing two major conference teams is usually braver than playing just one. I also tend to slightly discount teams that are each other's yearly rivalry. Generally, though, my main tiebreaker is the number of FCS teams played. Most teams play 1, but some play one or one of the transitional teams (which I count as "half" a FCS team), and a select few even play two. Anyway, let's do this. Also, a "N-" means the game is at a neutral site, and teams in italics are FCS.
  1. Clemson (1.75 legit, 1 FCS): N-Auburn, Ball State, Furman, South Carolina. This is what I meant when I said that sometimes this is somewhat arbitrary. The neutral site game with Auburn should be fun once again, though, and is the most appealing out-of-conference ACC matchup.
  2. Miami (1.75, 1): @Kansas State, Bethune-Cookman, Notre Dame, South Florida. Yes, there's three major conference teams here (though how much does the Big East really count anymore?) but I couldn't put this over the top. Miami-Notre Dame is one of the few things that probably makes people wish it were the 80's again, though.
  3. Florida State (1.5, 2): Murray State, Savannah State, @South Florida, Florida. This is your reminder that South Florida is not, in fact, in what most people would call southern Florida. Anyway, they should've just gone for the sweep and scheduled FAU and FIU.
  4. Virginia (1.25, 1): Richmond, Pennsylvania State, @Texas Christian, Louisiana Tech. I originally had Boston College ahead, but it's not UVA's fault what's going on at Penn State and going to TCU is certainly a brave choice.
  5. Boston College (1.25, 1): Maine, @Northwestern, @Army, Notre Dame. Whereas BC plays Notre Dame all the time, and while Northwestern isn't awful anymore they're still Northwestern.
  6. Georgia Tech (1, 1): Presbyterian, Middle Tennessee State, Brigham Young, Georgia. There's very little exciting about our OOC schedule this year. We play BYU for the first time since my freshman year in 2003. Hopefully we win this time.
  7. Virginia Tech (1, 1): Austin Peay, @Pittsburgh, Bowling Green, N-Cincinnati. This had the potential to be more exciting, but Pitt and Cincy are just too wildly inconsistent to get worked up about.
  8. Wake Forest (1,1): Liberty, Army, @Notre Dame, Vanderbilt. The Wake Forest-Vandy series continues, which is nice to see, though occasionally a bit confusing since they have the exact same color scheme.
  9. Maryland (0.75, 1): William & Mary, @Temple, Connecticut, @West Virginia. Maryland is getting kind of beat down thanks to the introduction of zeroes this year, but it's not like they thought Temple was going to be in the Big East when they scheduled them. Also, how many points will WVU score on Maryland? My guess is somewhere around "a lot".
  10. Duke (0.75, 1): Florida International, @Stanford, North Carolina Central, Memphis. I wonder if Duke will have more fans in Palo Alto than when Wake Forest came out here. I've got my doubts.
  11. North Carolina State (0.75, 1.5): N-Tennessee, @Connecticut, South Alabama, The Citadel. NC State playing Tennessee in Atlanta. It sort of makes sense, I guess. Maybe. Okay, not really, but it's happening anyway.
  12. North Carolina (0.5, 1): Elon, @Louisville, East Carolina, Idaho. There's not a whole lot to get excited about here, that's for sure.
Somewhat begrudgingly, next up is the Big East.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Rating the 2012 Non-Conference Slate: Prologue

Yes folks, we're back! Let's talk about football.

We've slightly tweaked the rules for this scheduling rating thing. For starters, there are four transitional members to the top level of Division I this year: Massachusetts, South Alabama, Texas State, and Texas-San Antonio. I've counted each of these as half a DI-AA (or DI-FCS) team, as they are not (for the most part) eligible for bowl games or conference championships. In years past, we also stuck to rating all BCS conference teams with a 0.25, 0.5, .75, or 1. However, we have now begun employing the zero rating for certain teams: Boston College, Duke, Maryland, Iowa State, Kansas, Connecticut, Temple, Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue, Colorado, and Kentucky. Remember, this rating is a entirely subjective rating on our part of teams that we consider the "most desirable" for out-of-conference play, which as just as much to do with perception as it does them actually being any good (hence why Notre Dame still carries a 0.75).

Also worth noting is the list of teams rated with a "1": Florida State, Virginia Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Oregon, Southern California, Alabama, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, and Louisiana State. Breaking it down by conference, that's 2 for the ACC, 3 for the Big 12, 0 for the Big East, 5 for the Big Ten, 2 for the Pac-12, and 5 for the SEC.

Averaging everything out by conference, and you get:
  1. SEC (0.696 legit average)
  2. Big Ten (0.583)
  3. Big 12 (0.527)
  4. Pac-12 (0.5)
  5. ACC (0.479)
  6. Big East (0.357)
The addition of zeroes definitely hurt the ACC, Big East, and Big 12 the most, but this is probably a more accurate rating overall.

Anyway, we'll be doing the usual conference-by-conference break down over the next several days. Until then!