Thursday, August 29, 2013

This Weekend in College Football: Week 1

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

6:00: North Carolina @ South Carolina (ESPN): Aaaand we're back! It's the first game of the college football season, and it can't get here soon enough. In the battle of the Carolinas, though, I expect the southern one to prevail.

  • Tulsa @ Bowling Green (ESPNU): Tulsa will probably win, but it has plenty of potential to be more exciting than...
  • Nevada-Las Vegas @ Minnesota (BTN): Minnesota should win.
8:00: Utah State @ Utah (FS1): Both of these teams have made strives in recent years, but the level at which those strides are taking place vastly differs. Utes should roll.

9:15: Mississippi @ Vanderbilt (ESPN): It's Week 1 ESS-EEE-CEE football. Vandy has 3 straight wins in this series (and 6 of the last 8), and I'd probably expect them to get another.

10:30: Rutgers @ Fresno State (ESPNU): I'm not required to have an opinion on this game, right? Huh. Well, apparently I am. Let's go with Fresno just for the hell of it.

11:00: Southern California @ Hawaii (CBSS): Okay, now this is really the last time that I can say the last time the Trojans played a game they lost to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl. I'm going to miss that. Also despite not apparently having a quarterback, they should win this one.

  • Texas Tech @ Southern Methodist (ESPN): A potentially fun in-state showdown, but still a likely Texas Tech win.
  • Florida Atlantic @ Miami (ESPNU): I'll be employing the "Miami context clue" gimmick this year. But in this case, does it really matter which one? Either would probably win.
  • Western Michigan @ Michigan State (BTN): Well, it'll be a useful tuneup for Sparty, I guess. (Editor's note: there are other games Friday, on major networks even, but our general policy is only to list games between two FBS teams, with limited exceptions.)
  • Buffalo @ Ohio State (ESPN2): And finally, the first proper football Saturday of the year. Just think Ohio State, you'd probably be a shoe-in title game pick if you'd scheduled a proper team here.
  • Villanova @ Boston College (ESPNEWS): Included entirely because ESPNEWS is apparently showing live football games now.
  • Purdue @ Cincinnati (ESPNU): Two things: Cincy still has a player named "Munchie Legaux", and they'll probably win.
  • Massachusetts @ Wisconsin (BTN): Remember, the BTN game in this timeslot is usually regional and it's not always obvious which one will get shown nationally. That said, the other one involves a FCS team, so I get to actually say Wisconsin will probably win.
  • Toledo @ Florida (SEC): Maybe it's just because I follow edsbs on Twitter, but Florida's offense this year may have more in common with rocket explosions than the Toledo Rockets. But that said, it's still Toledo, and the Gators will roll.
  • Louisiana Tech @ North Carolina State (ACC): For a second I thought the first team said "LSU" but then I saw that this was on the ACC syndication package, so yeah, probably not. That said, this one is debatable. Oh, right, Louisiana Tech hired Skip Holtz and will probably be less explosive on offense. Yeah, that bodes well for the Wolfpack.
  • Florida International @ Maryland (ACC): I had forgotten about this until this tweet, and it got me scratching my head all over again. I think karma dictates that Maryland wins.
1:00: Rice @ Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (ESPN): Rice could well be very good this year. It won't matter against TAMU.

  • Temple @ Notre Dame (NBC): [checks "is Temple still bad?" watch] Hrm, yep, yeah, I never said the first weekend of the season was going to be filled with thrills. You're just supposed to be happy real football is back.
  • Syracuse vs. Pennsylvania State (@East Rutherford, NJ; ABC/ESPN2): Penn State mostly surprised everyone last year by not being as awful as everyone though. Same with the 'Cuse. Of course, the primary difference is that one of these teams isn't on a set of scholarship restrictions which generally hurt later more than they do now. That said, Penn State may well still be good enough to eke out a win here.
  • Mississippi State vs. Oklahoma State (@Houston, TX; ABC/ESPN2): Mississippi State had the rare distinction of being a "middle tier" SEC team last year. That said, it's hard to see them keeping up with the Cowboys.
  • Brigham Young @ Virginia (ESPNU): Boy howdy Virginia probably isn't very good this year. I'll go with the Stormin' Mormons in this one.
  • Central Michigan @ Michigan (BTN): Victors will, perhaps, be hailed after this one.
4:00: Louisiana-Lafayette @ Arkansas (SEC): UL-Lafayette will probably be pretty good this year, well, for a Sun Belt team. Razorbacks roll.

5:30: Virginia Tech vs. Alabama (@Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Well, short of the bus (does Alabama even take a bus to any game?) breaking down on I-20, things don't look very good for the Hokies. Maybe Alabama will forget to pack some cleats? Maybe both the first and second teams accidentally take the wrong exit on the Connector? Maybe Saban decides to go off the rails and installs a read option offense in the middle of the second quarter while still using AJ McCarron at quarterback? I guess what I'm trying to say is good luck VPI, you're probably going to need it.

  • Kentucky vs. Western Kentucky (@Nashville, TN; ESPNEWS): More ESPNEWS games! Will wonders ever cease? Yeah, probably, since Kentucky will still win this game in the most mediocre fashion possible.
  • Washington State @ Auburn (ESPNU): This game has the potential to be the best game of the day featuring two teams who won 6 games last year. That is, 6 games combined. Also, there is the potential for lots of points, but since Wazzou has had an extra year to get acquainted with the ideas of "playing offense" and "scoring points" I'll have to favor them.
  • Miami @ Marshall (CBSS): I like Marshall slightly in this one, but I'm not sure why.
  • Georgia @ Clemson (ABC): This is the real game of the day. I hope to catch at least some of this, despite being otherwise totally preoccupied this weekend. What will carry the day? Georgia sports an inexperienced defense, but returns a bunch of excellent players on offense. So does Clemson, though, and remember that their last win was a thrilling victory over LSU in the Chick-fil-a Bowl. On a different forum, I went with Georgia, and I'm going to stick to my guns, but I can really see this going either way.
  • Wyoming @ Nebraska (BTN): It's too bad that in football the road team traditionally wears lighter colors, because I find it hard to resist Wyoming's ugly brown uniforms. Alas. Oh, and yeah, Nebraska wins.
9:00: Louisiana State vs. Texas Christian (@Arlington, TX; ESPN): This is the second most interesting game of the day. TCU has done well so far in the Big 12, but can they go toe-to-toe against one of the SEC's powerhouses? Of course, most any coach will have a schematic advantage against the Hat, but I suspect that once again the Bayou Bengal's immense pool of talent will eke out the win.

  • Boise State @ Washington (FS1): As stated earlier, I'm really looking forward to seeing confused Idahoans in downtown Seattle on Saturday. That said, they should be happy Idahoans, as I think they'll get the win.
  • Nevada @ California-Los Angeles (PAC12): Well, the only upside of not being a DirecTV customer anymore is that I do get the Pac-12 channels. So, yeah, if anything I've read about UCLA this offseason is true, they'll probably win.
10:30: Northwestern @ California (ESPN2): I guess we'll find out pretty quickly if Cal made the right move firing Tedford. Still going with NU though.

3:30: Ohio @ Louisville (ESPN): How good is Teddy Bridgewater? I would say we'll find out, but mostly this game will just ensure he's not, like, really awful.

6:00: Colorado vs. Colorado State (@Denver, CO; CBSS): Here's a rivalry game for your troubles. Unfortunately, there's been a lot of trouble in Colorado football as of late, as both these teams were pretty not-good last year. But then again, both of them should be slightly better this year, which is bad news for the Buffs since they lost and all. And it's quite tempting to pick them to lose again.

8:00: Florida State @ Pittsburgh (ESPN): Crazy fact: Pitt has a coach coming back for a sophomore season for the first time since 2006. Will that help them against Florida State? Well... probably not.

Hopefully things will be more informative next week. Until then, enjoy the weekend!

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Conference Moves - Just the Facts

I was looking through SB Nation's excellent series of college football previews when I dawned on me that even I didn't know about all the various conference moves that happened this past off-season. So let's go through them.

Same As Last Year
  • Big 12 (10 teams): Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Christian, Texas Tech
  • Big Ten (12 teams): Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Minnesota, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State, Pennsylvania State, Purdue, Wisconsin
  • MAC (13 teams): Akron, Ball State, Bowling Green, Buffalo, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Massachusetts, Miami, Northern Illinois, Ohio, Toledo, Western Michigan
  • Pac-12 (12 teams): Arizona, Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, California-Los Angeles, Southern California, Utah, Washington, Washington State
  • SEC (14 teams): Alabama, Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana State, Mississippi State, Mississippi, Missouri, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas Agricultural and Mechanical, Vanderbilt
Dead Conferences
The venerable Western Athletic Conference disbanded in football. The Big East also died for the most part, with most of the schools leaving for different conferences this year or next year. The American conference rose from its ashes, as we'll see below.

Automatic Qualifying Conferences
Note that this designation only applies for this last year of the BCS. The American is grandfathered into the BCS via the Big East, and they will lose their seat at the table in the new play-off.

The ACC has two new members, Pittsburgh and Syracuse, joining Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Florida State, Georgia Tech, Maryland, Miami, North Carolina State, North Carolina, Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Wake Forest for a total of 14 teams.

The new, inoffensively named American Athletic Conference debuts this year. It consists of six former Big East members (Cincinnati, Connecticut, Louisville, Rutgers, South Florida, and Temple) and four former Conference USA members (Central Florida, Houston, Memphis, and Southern Methodist).

Four New Teams
The number of teams playing top-level NCAA football rises from 120 to 124 teams this year, with Massachusetts, Texas-San Antonio, Texas State, and South Alabama losing the "transitional" tag. Transitional this year is Georgia State, and they will be full members in the Sun Belt next year. More are on their way in 2016 and 2017.

Shakeups in the Minor Conferences
The result of all this are massive shakeups in the minor conferences.

As a result of the dissolution of the WAC, New Mexico State and Idaho found themselves without homes this season, though they will join the Sun Belt in the future. For now, they join fellow independents Army, Brigham Young, Navy, and Notre Dame.

Now here's the really confusing part.

Conference USA welcomes in Florida Atlantic, Florida International, Middle Tennessee State, and North Texas from the Sun Belt. Louisiana Tech and Texas-San Antonio join from the WAC. They join Alabama-Birmingham, East Carolina, Marshall, Rice, Southern Mississippi, Texas-El Paso, Tulane, and Tulsa to give CUSA 14 teams. (For now.)

The Mountain West picked up San Jose State and Utah State from the WAC, joining Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Nevada, Nevada-Las Vegas, New Mexico, San Diego State, and Wyoming for a total of 12 teams.

That leaves the Sun Belt. They gained South Alabama and Texas State. Together with Arkansas State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe, Troy, and Western Kentucky they have 8 football playing members.

So, in summary, here's what I should've done in the first place: a table.

Conference Gained Lost
Atlantic Coast Pittsburgh (Big East), Syracuse (Big East)
American/Big East Central Florida (CUSA), Houston (CUSA), Memphis (CUSA), Southern Methodist (CUSA) Pittsburgh (ACC), Syracuse (ACC)
Conference USA Florida Atlantic (Sun Belt), Florida International (Sun Belt), Middle Tennessee State (Sun Belt), Louisiana Tech (WAC), Texas-San Antonio (WAC) Central Florida (AAC), Houston (AAC), Memphis (AAC), Southern Methodist (AAC)
Mountain West San Jose State (WAC), Utah State (WAC)
Sun Belt South Alabama (FCS), Texas State (FCS) Florida Atlantic (CUSA), Florida International (CUSA), Middle Tennessee State (CUSA)

Rating the 2013 Non-Conference Slate: Epilogue


The Shame List (teams that play more than 1 FCS and/or transitional team): Clemson, Georgia Tech, Arizona, Alabama, Oklahoma State, West Virginia.

The Praise List (teams that play zero FCS or transitional teams): California-Los Angeles, Stanford, Southern California, Oklahoma, Michigan.

Overall worst schedules! (Somewhat subjective!)
  1. Dishonorable mention: a full half of the Big 12. Between Kansas, Kansas State, Texas Tech, Baylor, and West Virginia maybe the only interesting game is West Virginia-Maryland.
  2. Baylor (0, 1): Wofford, Buffalo, Louisiana-Monroe. Gertrude Stein once wrote "there is no there there". She was talking about Oakland but I think this works for Baylor's out-of-conference schedule as well. Also I know they got an honorable mention above, but still.
  3. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (0, 1): Rice, Sam Houston State, Southern Methodist, Texas-El Paso. Well, I guess no one can accuse them of ducking smaller in-state schools.
  4. Arizona (0, 1.5): Northern Arizona, @Nevada-Las Vegas, Texas-San Antonio. I think this pretty much speaks for itself, yeah?
Best schedules!

Honestly, I can't really bring myself to do a countdown list here, because these top-rated schedules has certain flaws. Let's break them down.
  • Clemson (2, 2): Georgia, South Carolina State, Citadel, @South Carolina. Both of their marquee games should be must-watch events, and as mentioned previously seeing an old rivalry played again is always good. But I generally don't give extra kudos for playing an in-state rival you play every year (though in light of other previously annual rivalries biting the dust with realignment, maybe that is worthy of acknowledgment). Also, a schedule that has two FCS teams simply can't be called great.
  • Arizona State (1.75, 1): Sacramento State, Wisconsin, N-Notre Dame. If I did do a ranking, this would probably be tops, but didn't feel right for some reason.
  • Florida (1.75, 1): Toledo, @Miami, Georgia Southern, Florida State. Not bad, and fits several of the criteria I've talked about, and has an acceptable one FCS team. Still, it would've tough to put this over Arizona State because I like to reward inter-sectional matchups.
  • No team in the Big 12 earned more than 1 "legit" point. Oklahoma's game at Notre Dame got them the top spot, but still, Arizona State plays two auto-qualifying taems.
  • The Big Ten was pretty bleak as well. A lot of these teams play Notre Dame every year. While that is being threatened by Notre Dame's new scheduling alliance with the ACC, it's still the status quo for now.
For, for now, let's close with each conferences' schedules ranked by their "legit averages". (E.g., not the average of each conference's rating as presented in the first post, but the average of all their members' legit averages.)
  1. Pac-12 (0.201)
  2. ACC (0.192)
  3. SEC (0.164)
  4. Big Ten (0.141)
  5. Big 12 (0.1)
And that's all. Reminder, the season starts tomorrow. Look for the usual post.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Rating the 2013 Non-Conference Slate: SEC

The SEC conspicuously avoids having a number in their name, but that despite that people will say they can't count because hey, it's the South, am I right?*
  1.  Florida (1.75 legit, 1 FCS): Toledo, @Miami, Georgia Southern, Florida State. Florida and Florida State play every year, but I suspect there are still some out there surprised to find out that Florida and Miami don't. So that's net in and of itself.
  2. Georgia (1.5, 1): @Clemson, North Texas, Appalachian State, @Georgia Tech. Georgia-Clemson is probably the single most intriguing out-of-conference matchup for the entire SEC and maybe the whole of college football this year. They're rivals (Google Maps says "Athens, GA to Clemson, SC" is just 79 miles) that don't play all the time. While they're both top programs in their leagues, they're often overshadowed by more successful/well-known teams (Alabama, Florida State). They both generally come into seasons with huge expectations and then fail to capitalize (Georgia is expected to win the SEC East and go to the BCS with a darkhorse national title run a possibility, while Clemson is supposed to win the ACC). The general SEC dominance narrative is countered what was likely last year's most exciting bowl game, Clemson's 25-24 win over LSU in the Chick-fil-a Bowl. (More parentheticals: I was channel surfing the other week and saw the beginning of that game again. Goodness, it sured looked like it was going to be a LSU blowout after the first 5 minutes right?)
  3. South Carolina (1.25, 1): North Carolina, @Central Florida, Coastal Carolina, Clemson. South Carolina also plays Clemson, but, well, they do that every year.
  4. Tennessee (1, 1): Austin Peay, Western Kentucky, @Oregon, South Alabama. When I was doing research for the Oregon write-up in the Pac-12 post, I came across this: Operation Rocky Top. The second sentence in the article contains the phrase "illegal activities in charity bingo". That just seems sort of quaint, doesn't it? But that's how political scandals used to roll in the South in the 80's and 90's. (Of course, the results are decidedly unfunny (see the article).)
  5. Mississippi (1, 1): Southeast Missouri State, @Texas, Idaho, Troy. Well, that is Texas on that schedule. Will the cachet of playing the Longhorns be back this season?
  6. Mississippi State (0.75, 1): N-Oklahoma State, Alcorn State, Troy, Bowling Green. Protip: this SEC-Big 12 matchup will likely be far more interesting than Ole Miss-Texas.
  7. Alabama (0.75, 1.5): N-Virginia Tech, Colorado State, Georgia State, Tennessee-Chattanooga. This is the SEC-ACC matchup that's getting more attention going into the start of the season, but I'm not sure why. VPI isn't what it used to be, but Alabama should the same terrifying college football robot they've been the past few years. Meanwhile, in a brazen display of originality following a name change, Chattanooga is the "Mocs" after probably having to change from "Moccasins".
  8. Louisiana State (0.5, 1): N-Texas Christian, Alabama-Birmingham, Kent State, Furman. LSU-TCU is probably a tad underrated, but we'll also get to see how "for real" TCU is as a Big 12 program as a result as well.
  9. Kentucky (0.5, 1): N-Western Kentucky, Miami, Louisville, Alabama State. Hint: it's Rust Belt Miami. Also that WKU game is in Nashville, which makes me wonder if there are really any truly Tennessee cities. I generally tend to think Memphis as an extension of Mississippi, and if Georgia gets an extremely unlikely series of legal decisions to go their way, Chattanooga might as well be in Georgia. Nashville is now hosting neutral site games between two schools in Kentucky, so that pretty much leaves Knoxville I guess?
  10. Auburn (0.25, 1): Washington State, Arkansas State, Western Carolina, Florida Atlantic. I'm not sure what else to say about the Auburn-Wazzou game other than that it could be the best worst college football game of the year.
  11. Arkansas (0, 1): Louisiana-Lafayette, Samford, Southern Mississippi, @Rutgers. I'm trying very hard to come up with something funny to say about Arkansas-Rutgers, but it's not happening. I still have a while before the game comes up for "This Weekend in College Football", thankfully.
  12. Vanderbilt (0, 1): Austin Peay, @Massachusetts, Alabama-Birmingham, Wake Forest. Vanderbilt is on the up-and-up, but with this series of OOC games it only need a .500 conference mark to get 8 wins again, so keep that in mind.
  13. Missouri (0, 1): Murray State, Toledo, @Indiana, Arkansas State. This schedule is a non-entity. It is an un-schedule. It is bad when a schedule can be improved by adding Kansas to it.
  14. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (0, 1): Rice, Sam Houston State, Southern Methodist, Texas-El Paso. Which makes this one somehow even worse. This is the SEC school I want to see Texas play, not Ole Miss.
We'll do a wrap-up after this, just in the nick of time. Stay tuned!
*: Reminder that every time I do math wrong on here or have horrendous spelling and/or grammar issues that my entire K-12 education was a product of the State of Alabama.

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Rating the 2013 Non-Conference Slate: Pac-12

Next up, a conference that apparently knows how numbers work, the Pac-12.
  1. Arizona State (1.75 legit, 1 FCS): Sacramento State, Wisconsin, N-Notre Dame. A solid schedule for a team that's hoping to make a splash this year. Of course, that goes both ways, as they could very easily go 1-2 against this schedule.
  2. California (1.5, 1): Northwestern, Portland State, Ohio State. A solid schedule for Cal, but not one that does them any favors in terms of getting out of the 3-9 hole from last year. That said, the fact that they managed to get two Big Ten teams at home is something of an accomplishment.
  3. Michie Stadium, West Point, NY
  4. California-Los Angeles (1, 0): Nevada, @Nebraska, New Mexico State. Nevada led off last year with a win over a Cal school, and honestly I wouldn't count them out here. I would almost be willing to bet that will be a more interesting game than the Nebraska game, all things considered.
  5. Stanford (1, 0): San Jose State, @Army, Notre Dame. Not much to write home about here, though that away game at Army is actually at Army's home stadium, which seems unusual to me. The pictures on Wikipedia make it look pretty nice, that's for sure.
  6. Oregon (0.75, 1): Nicholls State, @Virginia, Tennessee. I suspect that these games were initially supposed to be a little more high profile than they currently are. But let's also think on the amusing difference between the fan cultures of Tennessee (their fight song is literally about moonshining and other hillbilly activities) and Virginia (one of their fight songs is based on "Auld Lang Syne"). Given the proclivity of West Coast types to just lump the entire area south of the Mason-Dixon line into "the South", any fans who make the trip should be expecting a slightly different atmosphere in Charlottesville than in Knoxville. 
  7. Washington (0.75, 1): Boise State, N-Illinois, Idaho State. One of the things I look forward to at PAX every year is when Washington or Wazzou have a game that weekend in Seattle, and so fans decide to take advantage of the holiday weekend to check out downtown, only to find it full of nerds. Actually, I'd think most Washington fans probably wouldn't go downtown (given the school is in a different neighborhood), but Boise fans... yeah, definitely looking forward to a lot of confused people in blue and orange t-shirts. Oh, yeah, the schedule: well, Boise's probably a better team than Illinois, so it will be U-Dub's major chance to make a statement in the out-of-conference schedule.
  8. Washington State (0.5, 1): @Auburn, Southern Utah, Idaho. I suspect it's mainly because both of the teams were awful last year, but I feel like it should be a bigger deal that Mike Leach and Gus Malzhan will be facing off in a football game this year. Expect points. Lots of points. (Which, given how bad the offense was last year, may be like "24" for Auburn, but still.)
  9. Southern California (0, 0): @Hawaii, Boston College, Utah State. Utah State might be the most interesting team on this schedule, so I will use this as likely my last chance to remind everyone that the last regulation game of football played by the University of Southern California was a loss to Georgia Tech in the Sun Bowl.
  10. Utah (0, 1): Utah State, Weber State, @Brigham Young. Playing all three of your in-state rivals? I'm down with that. The problem for Utah, as a fledging Pac-12 team, is that it's very possible they won't will all these games. Also, the real burning question is: will Utah students prematurely run onto the field at an away game?
  11. Oregon State (0, 1): Eastern Washington, Hawaii, @San Diego State. I think I did a pretty decent job on the first nine teams, unfortunately I'm just drawing a blank on anything remotely interesting to say about this schedule. I've probably worn out the "odd field color" jokes already, which is a shame because Colorado also plays Central Arkansas.
  12. Colorado (0, 1): N-Colorado State, Central Arkansas, Fresno State. It hasn't been a good couple of years of collegiate football in the state of Colorado, and, well, I'm not sure I like the Buffs chances against Fresno.
  13. Arizona (0, 1.5): Northern Arizona, @Nevada-Las Vegas, Texas-San Antonio. UTSA is the "half" team on that count, but otherwise this is a pretty standard awful Arizona schedule.

Rating the 2013 Non-Conference Slate: Big Ten

And now the Big Ten, ranked 1 through 12.
  1. Purdue (1.5 legit, 1 FCS): @Cincinnati, Indiana State, Notre Dame, Northern Illinois. Yeah, this isn't a strong start here. Cincy only barely counts and normally I would discount a game against an in-state rival, but, well, this is what we have to work with in the Big Ten this year.
  2. Michigan (1, 0): Central Michigan, Notre Dame, Akron, @Connecticut. Mostly because the other two teams with 1s or better also play Notre Dame every year. I guess there is that game at UConn here, but eh.
  3. Michigan State (1, 1): Western Michigan, South Florida, Youngstown State, @Notre Dame. Reminder: it only gets worse!
  4. Illinois (0.75, 1): Southern Illinois, Cincinnati, N-Washington, Miami. If you're not up on my school name gimmicks, just now that I never specify which Miami it is unless it's not obvious from context. Also we probably should've given UDub a little more credit here, so I'm going to blame my brother for that.
  5. Northwestern (0.75, 1): @California, Syracuse, Western Michigan, Maine. Honestly, NU-Cal is probably the most intriguing match-up so far, but I gave Illinois credit for playing two teams with a higher average ranking.
  6. Wisconsin (0.5, 1): Massachusetts, Tennessee Tech, @Arizona State, Brigham Young. If I were Wisconsin, I'd play in the Southwest every year in, say, November or thereabouts. But that's not how they roll in the Big Ten.
  7. Nebraska (0.5, 1): Wyoming, Southern Mississippi, California-Los Angeles, South Dakota State. Nebraska-UCLA is at least interesting from a the inter-sectional matchup perspective, so let's hope that this is rated higher on the return trip.
  8. Ohio State (0.5, 1): Buffalo, San Diego State, @California, Florida Agricultural and Mechanical. This isn't a great schedule for a team though to be a national championship contender. Cal is expected to be better this year, but considering they were 3-9 last year that's not saying much. The Buckeyes will need to dominate this schedule.
  9. Indiana (0.25, 1): Indiana State, Navy, Bowling Green, Missouri. Not much here, but, well, they are Indiana.
  10. Pennsylvania State (0, 0): N-Syracuse, Eastern Michigan, Central Florida, Kent State. While not as bad as everyone thought last year, it's hard to see how Penn State will be any better this year. This schedule should be good for three wins, though.
  11. Minnesota (0, 1): Nevada-Las Vegas, @New Mexico State, Western Illinois, San Jose State. San Jose State is a trendy underdog pick this year, which may be bad news for the Golden Gophers.
  12. Iowa (0, 1): Northern Illinois, Missouri State, @Iowa State, Western Michigan. As stated previously, we generally don't look favorably when the only major conference team you play is a traditional in-state rival, so having your rival be Iowa State doesn't really help your case.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Rating the 2013 Non-Conference Slate: Big 12

And now, the Big 12, ranked 1 through 10.
  1. Oklahoma (1 legit, 0 FCS): Louisiana-Monroe, Tulsa, @Notre Dame. Much to the likely regret of the ADs who scheduled the games years ago, UL-M and UL-L are not quite the bodybag games they used to be. I mean, the Sooners are still going to win, but still. Also, I'm not seeing a lot of pre-season love for Oklahoma-Notre Dame, which definitely ranks up there in terms of the "interesting intersectional and historical matchup" scale.
  2. Texas Christian (1, 1): N-Louisiana State, Southeast Louisiana, Southern Methodist. TCU-LSU is one of the opening weekend games that everyone is looking forward to, and for good reason. It's nice to see that TCU has quickly established themselves after getting back into a major conference. (Much to the jealously of their cross-town rivals, SMU, I'm sure.)
  3. Iowa State (0.5, 1): Northern Iowa, Iowa, @Tulsa. And now things go rapidly downhill. If you don't believe me, read on. Don't forget that when Iowa State is involved, though, there's always the chance they'll lose to Northern Iowa and then beat Iowa.
  4. Texas (0.25, 0): New Mexico State, @Brigham Young, Mississippi. Honestly, that BYU game is probably more interesting than that Ole Miss game, but nonetheless it was the Rebels that were responsible for that quarter of a point.
  5. Oklahoma State (0.25, 1.5): N-Mississippi State, @Texas-San Antonio, Lamar. Miss State will try to prove they belong to the upper-tier of the SEC hierarchy once again this season, but I'm not so optimistic about their chance to prove their out-of-conference chops against Oklahoma state. (Note to self: don't repeat that for Miss State's write-up.)
  6. Kansas (0, 1): South Dakota, @Rice, Louisiana Tech. I'm not sure if there's a question that LaTech will beat KU, but more of by how much.
  7. Kansas State (0, 1): North Dakota, Louisiana-Lafayette, Massachusetts. I suspect the Ragin' Cajuns are a little more spicy than Bill Synder anticipated, but them's the breaks.
  8. Texas Tech (0, 1): @Southern Methodist, Stephen F. Austin, Texas State. Yes, that's right: the other thing to get used to this year are the new full-fledged FBS members, like Texas State.
  9. Baylor (0, 1): Wofford, Buffalo, Louisiana-Monroe. If Baylor and UL-M want to replay last year's game, that's fine by me. One of the few chances for legitimate entertainment here.
  10. West Virginia (0, 1.5): William & Mary, Georgia State, N-Maryland. Yes, West Virginia is still in the Big 12 for some reason. And they're still not playing Pittsburgh, so as a penalty I've rated their schedule last. Well, also that and they should obliterate Maryland.

Monday, August 05, 2013

Rating the 2013 Non-Conference Slate: ACC

First up, the Atlantic Coast Conference. See last year's post for all the gory details.
  1. Clemson (2 legit, 2 FCS): Georgia, South Carolina State, Citadel, @South Carolina. Clemson and UGA meeting up again is always a good thing. "Wait", you say, "aren't those two schools your two biggest rivals?" Well, yes. Nonetheless, the Clemson-GT rivalry is not in-state and is not nearly as acrimonious as the one with the so-call "university" in Athens. So unlike when Georgia and Alabama meet, and I can still root for Georgia's opponent without a twinge of guilt. Anyway, though I usually discount yearly rivalry games for these purposes, I simply couldn't rate any other schedules above this one, despite the two FCS schools.
  2. Virginia Tech (1, 1): N-Alabama, Western Carolina, @East Carolina, Marshall. I have to say, I like Clemson's chances against Georgia much, much better than VPI's against Alabama. Ugh. But it's good enough for second on this list.
  3. Virginia (1, 1): Brigham Young, Oregon, Virginia Military Institute, Ball State. It's always good to see East Coast-West Coast matchups, especially in the ACC. Unfortunately, that doesn't really say anything about the quality of the game that is likely to be played.
  4. North Carolina (1, 1): @South Carolina, Middle Tennessee State, East Carolina, Old Dominion. UNC-USC is getting a fair bit of publicity, as it will be the first major game of the season. It'll also be an early test for the Tarheels. The rest of their schedule is what it is, as the kids say.
  5. Boston College (1,1): Villanova, @Southern California, Army, @New Mexico State. It's possible that BC may lose to Villanova, but they deserve some credit for the road game to LA.
  6. Miami (1, 1): Florida Atlantic, Florida, Savannah State, @South Florida. Ranked this low under the "rival game" rule, even though they don't quite play Florida every year. Might've been the top schedule if they rounded up the all-Florida look with the only school they're missing now: FIU.
  7. Florida State (1, 1): Nevada, Bethune-Cookman, Idaho, @Florida. Again, yearly rivalry games don't count as much in these rankings. Too bad that's not the frisky Nevada squad from a few years ago, as well.
  8. Pittsburgh (1,1): New Mexico, Old Dominion, @Navy, Notre Dame. See above on "rivalry games".
  9. Syracuse (1, 1): N-Pennsylvania State, @Northwestern, Wagner, Tulane. That said, strength of your rivalry opponent does count for something. Perhaps I'm punishing the 'Cuse unfairly for what happened to Penn State, but them's the breaks.
  10. Georgia Tech (1, 2): Elon, @Brigham Young, Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical, Georgia. All the way down here due to two FCS schools. Also, it's been recently reported that the GT-Alabama series scheduled for later this decade has been indefinitely postponed. It's starting to look pretty bleak for the alma mater, I have to say. But hey, there's room in the schedule now for that GT-Stanford or GT-Cal home-and-home, right?
  11. Maryland (0.75, 1): Florida International, Old Dominion, @Connecticut, N-West Virginia. WVU is playing the wrong ACC team here. Can we get the Backyard Brawl back?
  12. Wake Forest (0.25, 1): Presbyterian, Louisiana-Monroe, @Army, @Vanderbilt. Not much to even joke about here. I imagine Wake is not thrilled about the up-and-coming Commodores, though, as that used to be a competitive matchup for the Demon Deacons.
  13. North Carolina State (0, 1): Louisiana Tech, Richmond, Central Michigan, East Carolina. There's just nothing to say about this schedule in any way, shape, or form. Well, other than the chance they'll lose to Louisiana Tech.
  14. Duke (0, 1): North Carolina Central, @Memphis, Troy, Navy. With an OOC schedule like this, Duke will almost certainly make a bowl again, as they'll need just two conference wins.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Rating the 2013 Non-Conference Slate: Prologue

It's time for the yearly ritual of rating college football's non-conference schedules.

The biggest change for this year is that we are no longer rating or examining the schedules of the American Athletic Conference (formerly known as the Big East), as only two teams (Cincinnati and Louisville) were even deemed interesting enough to rate. Though the AAC retains the Big East's BCS spot this year, they do not have a seat at the table in the play-off that will start next year.

Other than that, we were also even stingier with ratings this year. Only the following schools earned a "1" rating for being interesting to play: Florida State, Oklahoma, Texas, Michigan, Ohio State, Nebraska, Oregon, Stanford, Southern California, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana State, South Carolina, Texas A&M, and Notre Dame. So that's 1 for the ACC, 2 for the Big 12, 3 for the Big Ten, 3 for the Pac-12, and 6 for the SEC.

Only one non-automatic qualifying team earned any rating at all: Boise State (with a 0.75).

Here are the average ratings for each conference:
  1. SEC (0.607)
  2. Big 12 (0.528)
  3. Big Ten (0.5)
  4. Pac-12 (0.5)
  5. ACC (0.429)
Compared to last year, the average is down slightly for almost all the conferences.

That's all for now. Next up: the conference breakdown.