Saturday, September 24, 2016

This Weekend in College Football: Week 4

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Florida State @ South Florida (ABC): I think USF will be game, but I also think FSU  will be out for blood.
  • Georgia @ Mississippi (ESPN): Ole Miss has suffered two pretty heartbreaking losses so far this year, but on the balance I still think they're better than Georgia.
  • Iowa @ Rutgers (ESPN2): Iowa. Yes, really.
  • Colorado State @ Minnesota (ESPNU): Minnesota, probably? If not, not I don't have a lot of confidence about the Golden Gophers going forward.
  • Nevada @ Purdue (ESPNEWS): Uh, Purdue quarterback jokes aside... Nevada?
  • Kent State @ Alabama (SEC): Alabama.
  • San Jose State @ Iowa State (FSN): Iowa State... maybe.
  • Wisconsin @ Michigan State (BTN): Wait, this is on the Big Ten Network? This is one of the best games of the week, potentially? I mean, I think Sparty is going to win pretty easily, but at least based on the rankings, this one should be good?
  • East Carolina @ Virginia Tech (ACC): VPI has a bit of a losing streak to the Pirates of East Carolina, but I don't think it will continue.
  • Central Michigan @ Virginia (ACC/RSN): CMU.
1:00: Syracuse @ Connecticut (CBSS): Syracuse.

  • Florida @ Tennessee (CBS): I just got done listening to a 15 minute emergency podcast from two of my favorite college football writers about, and they both seem to think Florida has this one. And, indeed, the Gators have won 11(!) straight in this game, which is even more amazing when you think about what Florida has been through these last eleven years. Nonetheless, I think the Vols just have too many injuries that matter (i.e., in the defense), but I wouldn't be surprised at the result either way.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Michigan (ABC): The only question is how much Michigan wins by.
  • Duke @ Notre Dame (NBC): This version of Duke, well... they're not quite as game as they've been, you know?
  • Brigham Young vs. West Virginia (@Landover, MD; ESPN2): So apparently there's a lot of Mormons in Northern Virginia? Sure, let's go with that. And BYU, I guess.
  • Pittsburgh @ North Carolina (ESPNU): This one's tough, but I'm going with Carolina.
  • Boise State @ Oregon State (FS1): I think Boise will win, but I think it may be closer than many expect.
  • Miami @ Cincinnati (FS1): To be clear, this is the Miami that's a lot close to Cincinnati, so I'm going with Cincy.
  • Wake Forest @ Indiana (BTN): Uh, Indiana.
4:30: Vanderbilt @ Western Kentucky (CBSS): Western Kentucky.

5:30: Colorado @ Oregon (Pac12): Oregon, though probably closer than you think.

6:00: Louisiana State @ Auburn (ESPN): This game might well get someone fired, though I think after surviving last year Les Miles is relatively unassailable at LSU. I think Gus Malzahn is behind only Mark Stoops as "SEC coach most likely to get canned during the season", and I don't think this game will do a lot change it, especially when you consider Auburn home losing streak.

  • Houston @ Texas State (ESPNU): Houston.
  • Central Florida @ Florida International (beIN): FIU?
  • Oklahoma State @ Baylor (FOX): Oklahoma State (please?).
  • South Carolina @ Kentucky (SEC): Serious, it's a race between Stoops and Malzahn to get fired first. I think this game might do the trick for Stoops.
  • Nebraska @ Northwestern (BTN): Nebraska.
  • Stanford @ California-Los Angeles (ABC): Arguably one of the games of the week, but I'm not really feeling it. I think McCaffrey and Co. are going to steamroll the Bruins.
  • Bowling Green @ Memphis (ESPNEWS): Memphis.
  • Louisville @ Marshall (CBSS):This game looked more interesting, er, say, two years ago? Louisville.
9:00: Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (@Arlington, TX; ESPN): Arkansas won and important game in September? Sound the "Razorbacks May Actually Be Good" klaxon!

10:00: California @ Arizona State (ESPN2): Can Cal build off their crazy win over Texas last weekend? I'm going to go with "no".

10:15: Air Force @ Utah State (ESPNU): I don't have a lot of data for either of these teams, do I'm going to go with the Aggies.

10:30: Washington @ Arizona (Pac12): And..... UDub.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

This Week in College Football: Week 4

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:30: Clemson @ Georgia Tech (ESPN): A brief history of Clemson-Georgia Tech, as I remember it:
  • 2003: My freshman year and second ever college football game attended. The first was our 17-3 upset of Auburn two weeks prior, that involved rushing the field, tearing down the goal posts, and carrying phenom freshman QB Reggie Ball off the field. (Yes, that actually happened.) This game was considerably less fun, as we lost 39-3. I actually laughed out loud when I saw we passed 42 times. It's like, well, maybe we would've been better off if Reggie passed at modern-GT passing rates. Anyway!
  • 2004: Probably still a personal best vertical leap record for me, after the events described here happened. If you don't want to read all of that, essentially, we scored two touchdowns in the last two minutes of the game and a freshman WR named Calvin Johnson became a bonafide star.
  • 2005: That link above contains a pretty good summary of that game as well. I remembered what happened on that play before I even read the description of it. Good times.
  • 2006: This game sucked, but if nothing else we still ultimately made the ACC Championship Game while Clemson was busy losing the division to Wake Forest.
  • 2007: The general rule of this series is this: we either barely win or lose by a ton. Clemson was 4-0 and ranked #13 coming in, but it was mostly our defense the held the day. Clemson was held to 71 yards rushing (excluding sacks) and we had the game's lone touchdown. I don't really remember anything about this, but hey, we won 13-3.
  • 2008: I was actually at this game, which, in a total coincidence, was Dabo Swinney's first game. I think it's pretty safe to say most everyone vastly underestimated him at the time (even the Clemson fans I was tailgating with), but it turns out the dude can recruit and knows how to delegate to his coordinators. His first game, however, was a 21-17 loss to Georgia Tech that featured 200 yards rushing and a game winning touchdown catch by Demaryius Thomas.
  • 2009, Part 1: I don't want to spoil anything, but you know what's better than beating Clemson once in a season? Beating them twice! This game featured many things, including a fake field goal of... dubious legality by us as we ran out to a 24-0 lead on a Thursday night. Clemson then spent the next 30 minutes of football scoring 27 unanswered points, including some very long touchdown passes caught by guys like C.J. Spiller and Jacoby Ford. However, Tech battled back and kicked two more FGs to get a 27-24 win.
  • 2009, Part 2: It's not very often when you score the go-ahead touchdown with 1:20 to go that you think to yourself, "we left too much time on the clock", but that's the way this game went. It was cold and miserable in Tampa and the entire game was nerveracking. Both teams finished with over 400 yards of total offense. C.J. Spiller averaged 11.7 yards per carry en route to 233 rushing yards and four TDs, but Tech actually finished with more total yards. Neither team punted. Yeah, it was that kind of game, but somehow they didn't score in that last 1:20 and we won 39-34.
  • 2010: This game was considerably less exciting, but in terms of the rivalry, this was a close, 27-13 loss, though looking at the stats the scoreline may flatter us a bit.
  • 2011: You know what's fun? Upsetting a top-10 ranked Clemson team. We were 7-2 coming in, but our record flattered us and we had just lost two straight to Miami and Virginia. In retrospect, this wasn't really an especially good Tech team, yet there's Tevin Washington (not ever the best fit for the system) averaging nearly 7 yards per carry against Clemson. Tech led 31-10 and then held on for dear life, but it mostly worked and we won 31-17. Clemson's national title hopes were derailed, but went to go to the Orange Bowl anyway for that infamous 70-33 shallacking.
  • 2012: 2012 GT was not very good. The 47-31 scoreline flattered us in this one.
  • 2013: Yeah, the top-10 Clemson thing doesn't work so good when they're at home. 55-31 including a garbage time touchdown.
  • 2014: We won 28-6 in rare November matchup, but even then it was pretty obvious we did well because Deshaun Watson got hurt early in the game and had to give way to Cole Stoudt, who promptly threw three interceptions including two pick-6's. He had only three completions to his own team. Suffice it to say, Clemson wound up with 190 yards of total offense. That's not good!
  • 2015: Yeah, so it turns out that Deshaun Watson guy is pretty good? By this time, the malaise of last year's annus horribilis had fully set in and we meekly lost 43-24.
What does any of that have to do with this? Probably not much. Both teams are coming off encouraging victories this year, but about the only way we have any chance is to come out on top of a shootout, I think. Clemson has played us pretty well the past few seasons, coinciding with Clemson's hiring of Brent Venables as their defensive coordinator, so it seems, shall we say, grim. We're 8-6 over the period described here, but we've only won one of our last four. Yet, it's college football, and somehow, somehow, history always seems to lurk, waiting to cast its shadow on the events of the present day. There's always a chance.

7:30: Wyoming @ Eastern Michigan (CBSS): Wyoming.

8:00: Texas Christian @ Southern Methodist (ESPN): TCU... probably.

9:00: Southern California @ Utah (FS1): So... a player maybe (probably not) punched Clay Helton. There's a quarterback controversy. Yep, things are just fine at USC. Just... fine, and really, they should be. Was anyone really expecting anything from them year? And their losses so far to Alabama and Stanford, which is not dishonorable at all! Yet, it seems pretty likely this where the wheels come off, as it were.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

This Weekend in College Football: Week 3

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Florida State @ Louisville (ABC): Okay, due to a series of, uh, events this is also going to be really snappy. But let's also note the oddity of arguably one of the most import games of the day being right at noon. Was ESPN asleep at the wheel? At any rate, FSU.
  • Miami @ Appalachian State (ESPN): I'm picking Miami, but they're totally going to lose this game. I mean, seriously.
  • North Dakota State @ Iowa (ESPN2): Normally I don't include FCS vs. FBS matchups, but I put this one in because it's on ESPN2 and it's NDSU. Whom I am totally picking.
  • Iowa State @ Texas Christian (FS1): TCU.
  • Kansas @ Memphis (ESPNU): Memphis.
  • New Mexico @ Rutgers (ESPNEWS): Rut—ah, what the hell, New Mexico.
  • Ohio @ Tennessee (SEC): Valws.
  • Temple @ Pennsylvania State (BTN): Temple.
12:30: Vanderbilt @ Georgia Tech (ACC): We've got a lot of work to do on both sides of the ball. The schedule ramps up really quickly after this. Hopefully we make the necessary adjustments.

2:00: Idaho @ Washington State (Pac12): Wazzou.

  • Oregon @ Nebraska (ABC): Oregon, probably?
  • Alabama @ Mississippi (CBS): As much as three-in-a-row would be hilarious, I have to go with Bama here.
  • Pittsburgh @ Oklahoma State (ESPN): This is probably the last weekend of wacky inter-sections games, so enjoy them while you can, even if it's Pitt at a very moribund Oklahoma State. Also, going with Pitt here.
  • Boston College @ Virginia Tech (ESPNU): Oof, this one's a bit of a stumper. Uh, VPI?
  • San Diego State @ Northern Illinois (CBSS): Even the Group of Five is getting in on the inter-sectional fun! Going with SDSU, though.
  • Colorado @ Michigan (BTN): Michigan.
4:00: East Carolina @ South Carolina (SEC): ECU is going for two, and I think they're going to make it!

  • Texas A&M @ Auburn (ESPN): The folks over at EDSBS are calling this Anxiety Bowl, 'cause this game is going to get someone fired. I'd... say it's not looking good for Gus Malzahn.
  • Mississippi State @ Louisiana State (ESPN2): Speaking of which, this game might well get someone fired too. This is not a great LSU team or anything, but at night, in Baton Rouge, well, it's not looking real good for Dan Mullen.
  • Louisiana Tech @ Texas Tech (FSN): Tech! Er, oh, right. Uh, TTU, sure.
  • Maryland @ Central Florida (CBSS): Maryland?
  • Troy @ Southern Mississippi (beIN): Southern Miss.
  • Michigan State @ Notre Dame (NBC): If this final score is like 12-9, then Sparty has got this. But I don't think that'll be the case.
  • Ohio State @ Oklahoma (FOX): The ramifications of this game are inversely proportional to the amount of time I'm going to spend on it. Ohio State.
  • North Texas @ Florida (ESPNU): Florida.
  • Georgia @ Missouri (SEC): I want Mizzou in this so badly, but... Georgia.
  • Southern California @ Stanford (ABC): Stanford.
  • Duke @ Northwestern (BTN):  Duke.
10:15: California-Los Angeles @ Brigham Young (ESPN2): UCLA.

  • Texas @ California (ESPN): Texas, but boy howdy there's going to be some points in this game.
  • Utah @ San Jose State (CBSS): Utah: apparently knows the way to San Jose, which I suspect will not otherwise offer much in the way of resistance.
10:45: Hawaii @ Arizona (Pac12): Zona.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

This Weekend in College Football: Week 2

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Central Florida @ Michigan (ABC): This weekend has one of the worst schedules I think we've ever had in all the years we've been doing this, so don't be surprised if some of these picks are a bit rapid fire. In addition, I'm going to be at a wedding most of the day and I basically didn't see anything that happened last week, so... yeah. Let's start here: Michigan.
  • Pennsylvania State @ Pittsburgh (ESPN): On the one hand, this is one of the better games this weekend. It's the resumption of a series where the two teams have met 96 times in the past yet haven't played each other since 2000. Yet my fear is that the score will similar now to what it was then: 12-0, Pitt.
  • Wyoming @ Nebraska (ESPN2): Might be worth checking in on just to see what Wyoming's wearing. Only so much you can do with white, brown, and yellow, y'all, and most of it isn't good.
  • Central Michigan @ Oklahoma State (FS1): Cowboys.
  • North Carolina State @ East Carolina (ESPNU): This... could be close? I don't think is expecting the Wolfpack to be world-beaters or anything this season, but ECU is always one of those teams that can be pesky on occasion. Both demolished some patsies last week, so, uh, going with the default here.
  • Rice @ Army (CBSS): The last time Army won two games in a row was 2010, when they beat North Texas and Duke on consecutive weeks. And hey, Temple was definitely the hearder of these two, so sure, why not.
  • Cincinnati @ Purdue (BTN): Cincy.
12:30: Troy @ Clemson (ACC): Clemson.

2:00: Utah State @ Southern California (Pac12): I never really though USC would beat Alabama, but I thought that they had, you know, the talent to at least make a game of it. Whoops. At any rate, that talent should serve them much better against these Aggies.

2:30: Ohio @ Kansas (FSN): Kansas beat Rhode Island 55-6 last week, which makes me wonder if they'll be as awful as everyone's expecting. Ohio is a step up, but Kansas has a pretty good shot of winning back-to-back games for the first time since 2011.

3:00: Mercer @ Georgia Tech ( Being at PAX, I definitely was not even remotely able to see this game, which kicked at 4:30 AM local time here on the West Coast. This one is much more palatable! I can read articles and statistics, though, so this week I'm looking for better blocking on the line and by the backs.

  • Tulsa @ Ohio State (ABC): Buckeyes.
  • Nevada @ Notre Dame (NBC): Irish.
  • Kentucky @ Florida (CBS): Sure, Florida wasn't great last week, but... Kentucky lost to Southern Mississippi last weekend. Whoops! I suspect I'll get to have a longer writeup about how Kentucky hasn't won this game since 1986 again next year.
  • Western Kentucky @ Alabama (ESPN2): Considering all the SEC upsets last weekend, the "THEY SUPPOSED TO BE SEC" meme got unearthed again last weekend, and the school that provided us that wonderful .gif was... Western Kentucky! However much I think these Hilltoppers are game, though, boy howdy 'Bama sure did take Southern Cal to the woodshed last week, so I don't think there exists a limb long enough for me to go out there to pick WKU.
  • Southern Methodist @ Baylor (FS1): Baylor.
  • Wake Forest @ Duke (ESPNU): Duke.
  • Connecticut @ Navy (CBSS): Navy.
  • Akron @ Wisconsin (BTN): Wisconsin.
4:00: Ball State @ Indiana (ESPNEWS): Indiana.

5:00: Idaho @ Washington (Pac12): UDub.

  • Arkansas @ Texas Christian (ESPN): If this were November, I'd probably say Arkansas. But, well, with the style of play they have, it really takes a lot of effort to get that mass rolling and it's just too early in the season at this point.
  • South Carolina @ Mississippi State (ESPN2): Oooof. So... this is a game featuring a team coached by Will Muschamp that needed to get kind of lucky to beat Vanderbilt and a team that lost to South Alabama. Well, one of them still has Dak Prescott, though... I'll hold my nose and take Miss State.
  • Northern Illinois @ South Florida (CBSS): USF.
  • Brigham Young @ Utah (FOX): The Holy War is back, and boy howdy, it's the best game on this slate by a long-shot. The Utes took a relatively gentle approach to their Week 1 opponent and won 24-0 against a FCS team. Meanwhile, BYU kind of quietly beat Arizona 18-16, at least as quietly as you can beat anyone on a last second field goal. And so, this looks to be a fun matchup and I have no idea which way it's going to go. The Utes are on a 5 game winning streak in this series, which is perhaps indicative of the increase in quality they've had since joining the Pac-12. On the flip side, like I said earlier, BYU just beat a Pac-12 team, and one that wasn't expected to be terrible or anything. So, why, not, let's go with the Stormin' Mormons here.
  • Arkansas State @ Auburn (SECN): I don't think that Auburn is in any danger to falling to this Arkansas State team, which is only slightly more removed from their Guz Malzahn glory days than Auburn is. Seriously, I can't help but read this article about Chip Kelly and wonder if the same applies to Malzahn.
  • North Carolina @ Illinois (BTN): Carolina.
  • Iowa State @ Iowa (BTN): This won't even be on TV here, but I feel compelled to talk about it anyway. For starters, for as utterly awful as the Cyclones have been basically... forever, this game has been relatively close over the past 10 plus years, give or take a few. Now factor in Kirk Ferentz's utterly insane contract extension, and yeah, at a minimum, I don't think Iowa's covering that 15 points.
  • Virginia Tech vs. Tennessee (@Bristol, TN; ABC): It's in the middle of a racetrack, so I guess there's some novelty there. Otherwise, meh. Vols.
  • Nevada-Las Vegas @ California-Los Angeles (Pac12): UCLA.
10:15: Washington State @ Boise State (ESPN2): Wazzou losing to a FCS team from the Pacific Northwest is becoming something of a tradition, but I think they'll be in an 0-2 hole after a visit to the blue turf.

  • Virginia @ Oregon (ESPN): Oregon's not what they used to be, but did you know Virginia lost to Richmond last weekend? That's not a good look, as the kids say.
  • California @ San Diego State (CBSS): Cal's defense is beyond awful, but is it awful enough to prop up the Aztecs' moribund offense? We're about to find out! I'm going to be lame and take Cal, though.

Saturday, September 03, 2016

This Weekend in College Football: Week 1

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.


7:30: Georgia Tech vs. Boston College (@Dublin, Ireland; ESPN2): And here we are, my team, right here off the top, leading off the season, yet on the one weekend a year I can't really watch. There's not a whole lot that could have gone a lot worse for us last year. The beginning of a new season of any sport is always an opportunity for unfettered optimism. I know this, and yet, I find myself not too worried about this Tech. Sure, a lot of it is from the "well, it sure as hell can't be worse" perspective, but there's also the old college football saying "the best thing about freshmen is that they eventually becomes sophomores", and this is a team that can definitely be applied to.
BC are, of course, not slouches themselves. They had a legitimately great defense last year coupled with an unbelievably incompetent offense. This game could well be a chess match, and for those of you able to watch it, just keep that in mind.
Note: the rest of the picks are going to be pretty rapid fire, I just ran out of time. Sorry.

  • Oklahoma vs. Houston (@Houston, TX; ABC): Going with the Sooners, but it's hard to understate the importance of this game. Surprised it's at 11:00am locla time.
  • Hawaii @ Michigan (ESPN): Michigan.
  • Missouri @ West Virginia (FS1): West Virginia.
  • Western Michigan @ Northwestern (ESPNU): They may well row the boat across Lake Michigan, but... yeah. Northwestern.
  • South Alabama @ Mississippi State (SEC): Miss State.
2:00: Rutgers @ Washington (Pac12): Washington.

  • Louisiana State @ Wisconsin (@Green Bay, WI; ABC): LSU, but it'd be really funny the other way around, right?
  • California-Los Angeles @ Texas A&M (CBS): UCLA.
  • Miami @ Iowa (FSN): Iowa (since this is the MAC Miami)
  • Texas State @ Ohio (CBSS): Ohio.
4:00: Louisiana Tech @ Arkansas (SEC): Arkansas.

5:30: North Carolina vs. Georgia (@Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Georgia, but whoo boy, it'd be create if the Tar Heels could do it.

7:00: San Jose State @ Tulsa (CBSS): Tulsa.

  • Southern Mississippi @ Kentucky (ESPNU): Kentucky.
  • Massachusetts @ Florida (SEC): Florida.
  • Southern California vs. Alabama (@Arlington, TX; ABC): Alabama.
  • Fresno State @ Nebraska (BTN): Nebraska
  • New Mexico State @ Texas-El Paso (beIN): UTEP.
9:00: Clemson @ Auburn (ESPN): Clemson.

  • Brigham Young vs. Arizona (@Glendale, AZ; FS1): Arizona.
  • Northern Illinois @ Wyoming (CBSS): NIU.

7:30: Notre Dame @ Texas (ABC): Notre Dame


8:00: Florida State vs. Mississippi (@Orlando, FL; ESPN): FSU.

Thursday, September 01, 2016

This Week in College Football: Week 1

So, as usual, I won't see most of these games because I'll be at a thing, but here's the idea: I write hurried previews while incredibly tired while also providing completely accurate TV listings. Also, I don't preview games involving FCS teams (usually).

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

  • Indiana @ Florida International (ESPNU): 3-for-1 deals, recruiting, for one reason or another the Hoosiers are going down to Boca Raton for some reason. They'll probably still win, though.
  • Appalachian State @ Tennessee (SEC): Tennessee is everyone's favorite to step into the void of the SEC East, so they'd do well to not stumble. I think they'll carry the day here. I will say, though, either of these games are more interesting than the next few.
  • South Carolina @ Vanderbilt (ESPN): I really hope you don't like points but instead like "defense" that mostly consists of two incompetent offenses. I probably wouldn't show this one to someone who hadn't seen football before, put it that way. And, yeah, I'm going with the Gamecocks anyway.
  • Rice @ Western Kentucky (CBSS): Hey, it's game, it's on TV, and I'll provide you an opinion slash wild guess: going with the Hilltoppers in this one.
9:00: Oregon State @ Minnesota (BTN): Just go to bed after the earlier games end. I mean, you probably still have to go to work on Friday, right? Minnesota likely prevails.

7:00: Army @ Temple (CBSS): Temple.

8:00: Colorado State vs. Colorado (@Denver, CO; ESPN): A rivalry is renewed! And you know what, I like that they play it on a neutral site, and that the Buffs have been consistently awful for so long I don't feel weird about picking Colorado State.

  • Kansas State @ Stanford (FS1): I actually have several cousins who have played for K-State over the years, including one on the current roster. I was offered comp tickets to this game, but I had to turn 'em down because I'll be out of town, but I hope y'all enjoy the Bay Area. On a more somber note, I also don't really see how K-State is going to stop Stanford, and that's before we even get into them having one of the best players in college football thing.
  • Toledo @ Arkansas State (ESPNU): This feels more like a wacky weeknight game in November than September, but hey, that's what you get on the first, blessedly NFL-less weekend of the season. Let's keep rollin' with the home team here.

Rating the 2016 Non-Conference Slate

So yeah, this is kind of late! My apologies, but unlike last year, I've actually been employed during the timeframe that I usually do this.

To make up for it, I'm just going to do this all in one go. So strap in and hold on, because we're about to talk about some schedules and make some wild guesses about 60 football teams.

First, the usual explanation. Every summer, my brother and I rate the attractiveness of each team in the Power 5 conferences plus a few other teams. Our ratings, broadly speaking, are:
  • 0: unless you're a fan of a team that is a zero, you probably count this team as an automatic win. These are your Purdues and Kansases of the world.
  • 0.25: hardcore college football types might get up for this, or they're a respectable team on a downswing. Examples of this type are Duke and Northwestern.
  • 0.5: these are usually respectable teams we don't find very exciting to watch, or teams that aren't really very good but have some redeeming quality. Examples of this type are Louisville, Kansas State, and California.
  • 0.75: these are the Rodney Dangerfield of teams, that is, teams that are actually good but don't really get a lot of respect, that is, until they beat your team. Examples of teams in this category are Wisconsin and Mississippi.
  • 1: these are teams that have either fought their way to respectability or will pretty much always get your hackles up because they're the Notre Dames and Alabamas of the world.
The only non-Power 5 teams to receive a rating other than 0 were Notre Dame (1), Boise State (0.75), Brigham Young (0.5), and Houston (0.25).

Additionally, when average up the numbers of the whole schedule, several teams will usually have the same value. I use the following as tiebreakers, though all are subject to exceptions:
  • First and foremost, if two teams have the same schedule rating but one plays no FCS teams and other plays one, then the team with no FCS teams will get ranked higher.
  • I tend to discount yearly rivalries, but give boosts to rivalries that have been on hold or are otherwise played infrequently, like Penn State-Pitt or Florida-Miami.
  • Power 5 teams rated a zero still count for more than a Group of 5 team rated a zero.
  • Sometimes I'll give the nod to a team that plays two 0.25 rated teams over a team that plays one 0.5 team.
  • Generally awful teams that play a bunch of really good teams may get discounted because, well, they didn't scheduled because it'd be a fun matchup, they got scheduled because they needed a homecoming game. This could be called the "Kansas rule", probably.
Now some dorky numbers about the distribution.
  • First, we rated 72 teams, since we do rate some non-Power 5 teams.
  • The average rating was 0.4965.
  • We gave 21 teams a 1, 6 teams a 0.75, 15 teams a 0.5, 11 teams a 0.25, and 19 teams a 0. 
Note that since the ratings themselves are the completely subjective opinions of two Georgia Tech fans that grew up in the South, there are some biases. To wit, here are the average ratings for each Power 5 conference:
  1. Southeastern: 0.625
  2. Pacific-12: 0.563
  3. Big 12: 0.56
  4. Atlantic Coast: 0.464
  5. Big Ten: 0.446
This year, the Pac-12 moved past the Big 12, but just barely! We're a little down on the SEC and Big 12 this year compared to years past as well.

Okay, with that out of the way, let's get down to business. Teams in italics are FCS schools.


I wrestled with who to put at the top of the ACC's ratings. I'll explain my logic below.
  1. Florida State (1.75 legit, 1 FCS): N-Mississippi, Charleston Southern, @South Florida, Florida. I went with FSU as #1 mostly on the strength of Ole Miss versus Tennessee. Both teams have a team they're required to play (Florida in this case), so ultimately I went with this. It's also the more interesting matchup and has possible national title implications.
  2. Virginia Tech (1.75, 1): Liberty, N-Tennessee, East Carolina, @Notre Dame. As you can imagine, it was close. Tennessee is supposed to be good this year, and the neutral field in this case is the infield of Bristol Motor Speedway. Nonetheless, Ole Miss seems more likely to be good, the implications are less, and VPI is playing Notre Dame because the ACC said they had to this year.
  3. Clemson (1.25, 1): @Auburn, Troy, South Carolina State, South Carolina. Clemson's schedule isn't too shabby either, mostly suffering from the drop-off of their chief rival more than anything else.
  4. Duke (1.25, 1): North Carolina Central, @Northwestern, @Notre Dame, Army. I'm debating whether Notre Dame really counts as "OOC" for the purposes of this review, given their agreement with the ACC, but for now they can stick around here and count toward the ratings.
  5. Pittsburgh (1, 1): Villanova, Pennsylvania State, @Oklahoma State, Marshall. Pitt will get their grudge match with the Nittany Lions out of the way early, but the trip to Stillwater could wind up telling us more about whether the Panthers are back in any appreciable way.
  6. Virginia (1, 1): Richmond, @Oregon, @Connecticut, Central Michigan. They finally fired Mike London, right? Well, there goes that dependable joke. At any rate, the Hoos will likely make Oregon look like Oregon again.
  7. Miami (1, 1): Florida A&M, Florida Atlantic, @Appalachian State, @Notre Dame. Da U taking a road trip to Boone, NC is... one of the odder road trips I can ever remember appearing in this space. This must be for a 3-for-1 or something.
  8. North Carolina State (1, 1): William & Mary, @East Carolina, Old Dominion, Notre Dame. Just milkin' Notre Dame at this point.
  9. Syracuse (1, 1): Colgate, South Florida, @Connecticut, Notre Dame. Is Syracuse trying to prove that it can "still just be friends" with its former Big East conference-mates? Or did they schedule USF thinking it'd be an easy win (when, well, good luck with that, maybe).
  10. Georgia Tech (1, 1): Mercer, Vanderbilt, Georgia Southern, @Georgia. It's funny that the team with two SEC schools appears this low, but, well, one of them is Vanderbilt and the other is a yearly rivalry game, so, yeah. 
  11. North Carolina (1, 2): N-Georgia, @Illinois, James Madison, Citadel. Neutral site games against one of the better teams in the SEC is good. On the road to Illinois, well, nothing to write home about, but they probably didn't know that 6 years ago. Two FCS teams? Oof. 
  12. Louisville (0.25, 0): Charlotte, @Marshall, @Houston, Kentucky. Yes, that's right, the 0.25 comes from Houston. That could be a really good game, actually, but let's hold off on that until we get there.
  13. Wake Forest (0, 1): Tulane, Delaware, @Indiana, Army. An appropriately milquetoast schedule.
  14. Boston College (0, 1): Massachusetts, Wagner, Buffalo, Connecticut. That sure is a collection of Northeastern cupcake schools, all right.
Big Ten

Apparently most of the Big Ten took the move to three conference games as an excuse to just not schedule anyone interesting at all. At least most of them didn't or don't schedule FCS teams.
  1. Michigan State (1.25, 1): Furman, @Notre Dame, Brigham Young. Sparty gets us off to a solid start, and while Michigan State-Notre Dame is usually fun, it doesn't quite have the panache that our runner-up does.
  2. Wisconsin (1, 0): N-Louisiana State, Akron, Georgia State. Yep, that's right, if there were a completely subjective endeavor then this would probably be the #1 on the strength of this LSU game, which is actually being played in Green Bay for some reason.
  3. Ohio State (1, 0): Bowling Green State, Tulsa, @Oklahoma. Honestly, I kinda want to get to previewing the Sooners? Anyway, I like the move of playing two Oklahoma schools here. Seriously, how does that happen? Ohio State being in, well, Ohio has the entire MAC smorgasbord to choose from when selecting teams to play, yet winds up with one of the two other schools in Oklahoma that isn't Oklahoma. Coincidence? Well, yeah, probably.
  4. Nebraska (1, 0): Fresno State, Wyoming, Oregon. Are the Huskers back? I honestly have no idea, but the numbers would say that it's unlikely they'll lose as painfully and as often last year. Note: I didn't say they will win more than last year, necessarily.
  5. Pennsylvania State (0.5, 0): Kent State, @Pittsburgh, Temple. We know all about the Penn State-Pitt thing, but imagine if Penn State loses to Temple again.
  6. Rutgers (0.5, 1): @Washington, Howard, New Mexico. Well, Rutgers will probably luck into winnings two of these games.
  7. Illinois (0.5, 1):  Murray State, North Carolina, Western Michigan. Remember that time last year when Illinois fired their coach mere weeks before the season started? Well, if the Broncos can row that boat right into Urbana-Champaign we may get a much more traditional in-season firing.
  8. Michigan (0, 0): Hawaii, Central Florida, Colorado. I'll comment on the Hawaii thing in the preview for this weekend, but in the meantime, boy howdy this is basically a preseason for the Wolverines.
  9. Indiana (0, 0): @Florida International, Ball State, Wake Forest. At FIU! That's, uh, uncharted territory for a Big Ten program, I'm pretty sure.
  10. Northwestern (0, 1): Western Michigan, Illinois State, Duke. Here's a sentence I never thought I'd type back when I started this site, or really, up until about 30 seconds ago: You know, that Northwestern-Duke game could be kind of interesting.
  11. Minnesota (0, 1): Oregon State, Indiana State, Colorado State. With the Vikings moving into their new home, the Gophers finally have their home field to themselves again. However, since Big Ten teams play all their OOC games in September, expect a lot of comments about humidity and mosquitoes.
  12. Purdue (0, 1): Eastern Kentucky, Cincinnati, Nevada. The most exciting thing about this schedule is that Purdue might lose all of these games.
  13. Iowa (0, 1): Miami, Iowa State, North Dakota State. I may have done this before, but sure as heck not very often: yes, Iowa is rated higher than Maryland because they play Iowa State and North Dakota State over FIU and UCF. It doesn't help that NDSU is a powerhouse and UCF was completely and utterly awful in every regard last season.
  14. Maryland (0, 1): Howard, @Florida International, @Central Florida. Terps tryin' to work that Florida pipeline, I guess? Hey, whatever works.
Big 12
  1. Texas (1.5, 0): Notre Dame, Texas-El Paso, @California. Because of how we do the ratings (see above), Texas comes out ahead here on the strength of Cal over Houston. Nonetheless, despite actually being less interesting this is still pretty solid in its own right, because if nothing else it's not like the Big 12 and Pac-12 play each other very often. Well, other than two teams below.
  2. Oklahoma (1.25, 0): N-Houston, Louisiana-Monroe, Ohio State. I know I've been beaten to this punch literally hundreds of times over the past six months, but it bears repeating: if the Sooners go 3-0 against this schedule, then they will be in the playoff barring some other disaster, like losing to Texas again.
  3. Kansas State (1, 1):  @Stanford, Florida Atlantic, Missouri State. The "Bill Synder is old/a wizard" jokes don't seem as funny anymore, because it especially seems that he, and by extension, the program is running a bit low on steam. I have to think this will be his last year.
  4. West Virginia (0.5, 1): Missouri, Youngstown State, N-Brigham Young. This is a pretty solid schedule to set up whatever inexplicable thing West [redacted] Virginia is going to do this year. If you're a 'Neer, just strap in, pop a Red Bull Holgo-style, and enjoy.
  5. Texas Tech (0.5, 1): Stephen F. Austin, @Arizona State, Louisiana Tech. Wait, make that three Big 12-Pac-12 games. Uh... anyway, so speaking of jokes getting old, I note that no one is talking about Cliff Kingsbury's dashing good looks anymore. Vacillating between 4 and 8 wins has that effect.
  6. Oklahoma State (0.5, 1): Southeastern Louisiana, Central Michigan, Pittsburgh. Mike Gundy has to be one of the longest tenured coaches in FBS, right? Seriously, that "I'm a MAN! I'm FORTY!" press conference flip-out was nine years ago. Of course, he's an alum, and if he was going to leave, he'd have done it by now. But are they happy with him in Stillwater? Is T. Boone's money happy with him? Of course, with the shine off oil prices right now, maybe that stick isn't as big as it used to be. Anyway! We'll find out sometime after they play those three teams.
  7. Iowa State (0.5, 1): Northern Iowa, @Iowa, San Jose State. The championship of Iowa could well be decided when Northern Iowa plays North Dakota State on October 29th. Wouldn't that be something?
  8. Texas Christian (0.25, 1): South Dakota State, Arkansas, @Southern Methodist. One of these years I'm going to crunch the numbers and start awarding Southwestern Conference championships because, seriously Big 12 just invite SMU, Houston, and Rice and get it over with.
  9. Kansas (0, 1): Rhode Island, Ohio, @Memphis. The Jayhawks will probably be doing well to get two wins out of this.
  10. Baylor (0, 1): Northwestern State, Southern Methodist, @Rice.
Pacific 12

  1. Southern California (2, 0): N-Alabama, Utah State, Notre Dame. We're off to a pretty good start here for the Pac-12. Of course, the Trojans usually appear near the top of my rankings thanks to their annual game with Notre Dame, so all they need to do is add another worthwhile team. Thankfully, they usually do.
  2. Stanford (1.5, 0): Kansas State, @Notre Dame, Rice. Of course, the Cardinal also play Notre Dame all the time, but Kansas State and Rice are... not quite Alabama.
  3. California-Los Angeles (1.25, 0): @Texas A&M, Nevada-Las Vegas, @Brigham Young. There's a chance for UCLA to make a statement early, but considering how mixed the predictions are for TAMU this year, that statement may get somewhat less impactful as the season goes on.
  4. California (1, 0): N-Hawaii, @San Diego State, Texas. Let's pretend one of these games didn't get played already, and wonder how Cal will deal with SDSU's possibly really good defense. Against Texas, one wonders if even Cal's defense can make Texas's offense look something other than "dysfunctional".
  5. Colorado (1, 1): N-Coloardo State, Idaho State, @Michigan. It seemed like the Buffs made some baby steps toward mediocrity last year, but we'll find out real quick how close they are in their annual neutral site tilt with the Rams. At any rate, it'll tell us more than the trip to Ann Arbor—the Buffs are still a ways from being able to mount a challenge there.
  6. Oregon (1, 1): California-Davis, Virginia, @Nebraska. I wonder how many more years we'll be wondering if the Ducks are "back" yet. They're definitely not favorites this year, heck, I'm not sure if a lot of people even have them second in the Pac-12 North.
  7. Oregon State (0.75, 1): @Minnesota, Idaho State, Boise State. While Mile Reilly really doesn't seem like the guy for Nebraska so far, I have to think that there might be a few wistful stares down at the corn fields of Nebraska on the way to Minneapolis.
  8. Washington State (0.5, 1): Eastern Washington, @Boise State, Idaho. Fun facts about this particular collection of teams! For starters, it's a relatively compact group, especially considering the area in which all these teams are located. Stadium-to-stadium it's 56, 221, and 9 miles, respectively, which makes Boise about 30 miles closer to Pullman than Seattle. And of course, you know about Boise's famous blue turf, but don't forget about Eastern Washington's (in)famous red turf. Idaho, meanwhile, plays in the KIBBIE DOME, which five years ago I apparently called the "crucible of potato pain" and have otherwise generally admired over the years. Let's wryly note that it'd be kind of funny if Wazzou loses to a FCS team again this year while otherwise having an okay season and take a moment to reflect on Idaho, a team that just couldn't make it work in DI-A/FBS. Effectively homeless after the dissolution of the WAC for football, they wound up in the Sun Belt, which has decided to boot its affiliate members beyond the 2017 season. Without any other options, the Vandals will drop back to FCS and play football in the Big Sky conference. While I imagine they'll still show up in the previews, alas, the hope of getting a big name team in the KIBBIE DOME is effectively over.
  9. Arizona State (0.25, 1): Northern Arizona, Texas Tech, @Texas-San Antonio. Um, gee, yeah, back to Pac-12 teams. Uh, Arizona State is going to UTSA for some reason? But hey, they play in the Alamodome, so it'll at least seem big time, from the outside.
  10. Arizona (0.25, 1): N-Brigham Young, Grambling State, Hawaii. Let us appreciate Hawaii for a second: they played Cal in Australia already, and will travel to Michigan and Arizona. I guess in this day and age of 12 games schedules and conference championship games the extra home game you get by playing in Honolulu isn't as appealing anymore?
  11. Utah (0.25, 1): Southern Utah, Brigham Young, @San Jose State. The way to San Jose: catch a direct flight from Salt Lake City to San Jose, head south on 85, take the Alma Ave exit and follow the signs for Spartan Stadium. That wasn't so hard, was it?
  12. Washington (0, 1): Rutgers, Idaho, Portland State. Well, UDub is a trendy pick as a spoiler in the Pac-12 North, and this OOC schedule certainly won't do anything to hinder them.
  1. Georgia (1.25, 1): North Carolina, Nichols State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Georgia Tech. This is about as exciting as it's going to get here in SEC territory, especially after we clear the top three. So strap in, folks.
  2. Auburn (1, 1): Clemson, Arkansas State, Louisiana-Monroe, Alabama A&M. While Alabama's slate is probably more exciting in several ways, I'm still deferring to the fact that, well, between Clemson and Alabama Auburn may well have the hardest schedule in the country this year, period.
  3. Alabama (1, 1): N-Southern California, Western Kentucky, Kent State, Tennessee-Chattanooga. I don't think I really need to expound on the USC game, so I'll just say that, man, I would give anything for that Western Kentucky game to be exciting for, like, a quarter or two. Just make those pulses in Tuscaloosa quicken a little, ya know? Obviously the Hilltoppers stand no actual chance, but hey, stranger things have happened, strictly speaking.
  4. Mississippi (1,1): N-Florida State, Wofford, Memphis, Georgia Southern. Okay, so the odds of Memphis beating Ole Miss two years in a row low, but still, it makes you think. And of course Georgia Southern will bring that option goodness in Oxford. And way back up at the top of the ACC section I noted that there first game could have some possible national title implications, and it still definitely could! Obviously, neither FSU nor Ole Miss are favorites in their conferences, but they've got a non-zero chance of playing each other again.
  5. Arkansas (1, 1): Louisiana Tech, @Texas Christian, Texas State, Alcorn State. I guess I'm rating TCU over UCLA, because that's pretty much the only reason this in the order this is in.
  6. Texas A&M (1, 1): California-Los Angeles, Prairie View A&M, New Mexico State, Texas-San Antonio. The Aggies figure to get through this non-conference slate 3-1 or 4-0, which means things will really get interesting once they get into the meat of the SEC play, specifically with regard to whether they'll have the same coach at the end of the season as the beginning.
  7. South Carolina (1, 1): East Carolina, Massachusetts, Western Carolina, @Clemson. So... obviously the thing to do after Steve Spurrier resigns during the middle of the season en route to the worst record fo the Gamecocks in a long while is to hire... a man who also used to be a Florida head coach, except that unlike Spurrier he wasn't successful at a school at pretty much everyone agrees is more primed for success in the first place. So, yeah, how long is Muschamp's shelf life in Columbia? I give him two seasons, tops.
  8. Florida (1, 1): Massachusetts, North Texas, Presbyterian, @Florida State. Speaking of the Gators, they're all the way down here because, well, if they didn't play FSU every year then this wouldn't even be a 1.
  9. Louisiana State (0.75, 1): N-Wisconsin, Jacksonville State, Southern Mississippi, South Alabama. I always wrestle with things like "playing Wisconsin in Green Bay" being a neutral site game or not. I generally feel the textbook definition is based on ticket sales: if the split is 50/50, then it's neutral. However, that data's not always easy to come by, so it's easier just to go based off the site instead.
  10. Tennessee (0.75, 1): Appalachian State, N-Virginia Tech, Ohio, Tennessee Tech. Between Tennessee, Appalachian State, and VPI we need some sort of Appalachian Championship.
  11. Vanderbilt (0.75, 1): Middle Tennessee State, @Georgia Tech, @Western Kentucky, Tennessee State. Full disclosure: Georgia Tech is rated as a 0.75 in our system because, well, we're biased.
  12. Missouri (0.5, 1): @West Virginia, Eastern Michigan, Delaware State, Middle Tennessee State. So I got a very nice e-mail yesterday wondering where the annual OOC previews were. Suffice it to say, I was shocked that anyone outside of my immediate family or Facebook feed actually reads any of this stuff, much less looks forward to any of it, so I said that this would probably be the longest previews yet. Since the e-mail was from, I'm assuming that the person in question is a Mizzou fan, so hello there! Thanks for reading!
  13. Kentucky (0.5, 1): Southern Mississippi, New Mexico State, Austin Peay, @Louisville. I think there's a pretty good chance Kentucky goes 2-2 against this schedule.
  14. Mississippi State (0.25, 1): South Alabama, Massachusetts, @Brigham Young, Samford. I feel like we underrated BYU a bit? But hey, this doesn't feel as bad of a schedule as a looks, and I'll always applaud a SEC school for actually traveling outside of the region.
Okay, so let's sum this up with the usual rituals.

First, there's the List of Shame, that is, teams that play more than one FCS school. I'm happy to report this year there's just one: the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, which saw fit to play both James Madison and The Citadel.

Next, a completely subjective ranking of the teams I feel that have the most exciting and/or interesting non-conference schedules. Since I talked about them at length above, I'll just list them here:
  1. Southern California (2, 0): N-Alabama, Utah State, Notre Dame. Yes, they play Notre Dame every year, but still, it's the only 2 and instead of a FCS team they play Utah State, who are not exactly mincemeat.
  2. Florida State (1.75, 1): N-Mississippi, Charleston Southern, @South Florida, Florida.The yearly rivalry here is offset by South Florida, which may be decent again this year! And it's on the road! (Well, we can pretend now that there probably won't be mostly FSU fans there.)
  3. Oklahoma (1.25, 0): N-Houston, Louisiana-Monroe, Ohio State. I am seriously geeking out about the Oklahoma-Houston game that I probably won't even get to watch.
  4. Texas (1.5, 0): Notre Dame, Texas-El Paso, @California. Again, I said completely subjective. Mostly here because we'll learn about these Longhorns from this schedule.
  5. California-Los Angeles (1.25, 0): @Texas A&M, Nevada-Las Vegas, @Brigham Young. SAme applies here, especially with two long trips.
And finally, the conference averages (which, I should note, is an average of an average, to account for 4 versus 3 non-conference games):
  1. Pac-12 (0.27)
  2. ACC (0.22)
  3. SEC (0.21)
  4. Big 12 (0.2)
  5. Big Ten (0.12)
Seriously, B1G, get with the program.

And that's a wrap! (Apologies for all the grammar mistakes.)

Let's throw it over to the TV listings!