Rating the 2018 Non-Conference State: Pac-12

As usual, “N-” means neutral site, and italics indicates an FCS team.

  1. Southern California (2 legit, 0 FCS): Nevada-Las Vegas, @Texas, Notre Dame. As usual, the Trojans are right out front in terms of good scheduling, even accounting for the fact that they play Notre Dame every year.
  2. California-Los Angeles (1, 0): Cincinnati, @Oklahoma, Fresno State. That said, this is also spicy. Cincy should be better, Fresno was legitimately good last year, and then there’s the trip to Norman. It still doesn’t add up to beat USC’s, but this is still exciting.
  3. Oregon State (1, 1): @Ohio State, Southern Utah, @Nevada. Well, no one will say the Beavers aren’t trying. Well, at least in the scheduling department.
  4. Washington (1, 1): N-Auburn, North Dakota, Brigham Young. The two road games gave Oregon State the edge over Washington. Also, we generally do want to encourage more home-and-homes.
  5. Colorado (1, 1): N-Colorado State, @Nebraska, New Hampshire. So I probably should’ve mentioned this in the Big 12 preview, but this works too. Ever notice the school abbreviations for the former Big 8 schools that don’t have “state’ in their names? You know, CU, NU, OU, KU, and MU? Yeah, those are all short of “University of Colorado”, “University of Nebraska”, etc. I’m not entirely sure of the order, but I have a hard time thinking of examples outside of the former Big 8. For instance, look at the former Southwest Conference: UT for Texas and UH for Houston. Or even other schools that could potentially be confused for the others, i.e., UK is Kentucky, UM is Michigan, and UO is Oregon. I’m not sure the history behind it, per se, but it’s a good reminder of the shared history that’s still there, even if the Big 8 is now long-gone.
  6. Stanford (1, 1): San Diego State, California-Davis, @Notre Dame. We will find out a lot about the Cardinal very quickly with that early SDSU game.
  7. Arizona State (0.5, 0): Texas-San Antonio, Michigan State, @San Diego State. Speaking of early SDSU games, boy howdy, it bears mentioning here in case you haven’t heard: Herm “You Play to Win the Game” Edwards is now the head coach at Arizona State! So… maybe if you’re serious about football you should no longer consider Arizona State 🙁
  8. California (0.5, 1): North Carolina, @Brigham Young, Idaho State. Well, this could get the Bears off to a good start. That Carolina game is anyone’s guess, but they could very well take it and be well on their way to a 3-0 start.
  9. Arizona (0.25, 1): Brigham Young, @Houston, Southern Utah. If Arizona’s defense puts in a repeat performance of last year’s defense that game at Houston could go south very, very quickly, Khalil Tate or no.
  10. Utah (0, 1): Weber State, @Northern Illinois, Brigham Young. Utah, you’re not in the Mountain West anymore. You don’t need to take road trips to MAC schools! But hey, at least the Holy War is back on the calendar.
  11. Washington State (0, 1): @Wyoming, San Jose State, Eastern Washington. I think it’s safe to say the last thing Wazzu needs is a roadtrip to Wyoming and their defense. Oy.
  12. Oregon (0, 1): Bowling Green, Portland State, San Jose State. Well, this is definitely the sort of schedule you’d want when breaking in your second new head coach in as many years.

Rating the 2018 Non-Conference Slate: Big 12

Next up, the Ten that Call Themselves Twelve. The “N-” prefix is for neutral site games and the italics indicate games against FCS teams.

  1. Texas (1 legit, 0 FCS): N-Maryland, Tulsa, Southern California. Will this… be the year that Texas can beat Maryland? Also, a rematch of one of the greatest national title games of all time. Not bad.
  2. Oklahoma (1, 0): Florida Atlantic, California-Los Angeles, Army. This is an OOC schedule of extremes for the Sooners. They should go 3-0 against this slate. If it’s anything other than that, it’s a disaster.
  3. Texas Christian (1, 1): Southern, @Southern Methodist, Ohio State. I fully appreciate the late-September out-of-conference game, especially since if they win it’ll give the Horned Frogs to go into Big 12 play as the favorite.
  4. West Virginia (1, 1): N-Tennessee, Youngstown State, @North Carolina State. Speaking of extremes, this schedule is sort of a microcosm of WVU’s potential this season. It could be good-to-great, but it could all go wrong very quickly.
  5. Texas Tech (0.5, 1): N-Mississippi, Lamar, Houston. Again, seems like a lot of all-or-nothing schedules in the Big 12. If Kliff goes 3-0 against this slate, he’s off the hot seat. 1-2? Hoo boy.
  6. Oklahoma State (0.5, 1): Missouri State, South Alabama, Boise State. Well, at least they’ve got Boise.
  7. Iowa State (0.5, 1): South Dakota State, @Iowa, Akron. The most interesting possibility, by far, is the part where they lose to SDSU and beat Iowa. Mostly because there’s a chance it could happen!
  8. Kansas State (0.25, 1): South Dakota, Mississippi State, Texas-San Antonio. K-State versus Miss State will be one of those games with something for everyone, mostly because those offenses will be nothing alike.
  9. Baylor (0.25, 1): Abilene Christian, @Texas-San Antonio, Duke. Ugh, Baylor.
  10. Kansas (0, 1): Nicholls State, @Central Michigan, Rutgers. I feel like whoever shows up to Rutgers @ Kansas should get, like, one free ticket to an actual football game as an incentive.

This Weekend in College Football: Week 0

We interrupt our out-of-conference football schedule series to bring you ACTUAL FOOTBALL.

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:00: North Carolina Agricultural and Technical vs. Jacksonville State (@Montgomery, AL; ESPN): This might actually be the best game of the day. Jax State is one of the best teams in FCS and NC A&T was the best HBCU last year. It is also ACTUAL FOOTBALL.

7:30: Hawaii @ Colorado State (CBSSN): Hell yeah mountains actual FBS vs. FBS football, though the Rams should roll through the Rainbow Warriors.

10:00: Wyoming @ New Mexico State (ESPN2): All of your college football nerd friends who listen to podcasts are going to be watching this one. That said, while NMSU’s run last year was inspiring, Wyoming should be be the better team. Nonetheless, this might be the only time NMSU has a home game on actual TV this year, so… watch it!

Rating the 2018 Non-Conference Slate: Big Ten

Next up, the Big Ten. As usual, the “N-” prefix indicates a neutral site game and, though it’s not going to come up a lot in this one, italics indicates the team is in the FCS. Let’s get to it.

  1. Northwestern (1.25 legit, 0 FCS): Duke, Akron, Notre Dame. Hey, look, Duke got a 0.25 this year, okay? At this point David Cutcliffe has be considered more of a quaterback warlock than a guru.
  2. Ohio State (1, 0): Oregon State, @Texas Christian, Tulane. In reality, we’ve got some interesting ones here. While Oregon State stands no chance of winning, it could be a useful gauge for both teams. Ohio State @ TCU a stand-out game that will definitely warrant mention at the end of this series of posts.
  3. Maryland (1, 0): N-Texas, @Bowling Green, Temple. Let’s take a moment to Bowling Green’s loaded out-of-conference schedule: @Oregon, Maryland, Eastern Kentucky, and @Georgia Tech. That’s three Power 5 teams (and, well, three paychecks, but sshhh). As for the Terps, well, this could also be relatively loaded. Texas should be better this year, and Temple is occasionally feisty.
  4. Michigan (1, 0): @Notre Dame, Western Michigan, Southern Methodist. They don’t play Notre Dame every year, but nonetheless they play them reasonably often, so I had to rank them fourth instead, of you know, third.
  5. Pennsylvania State (0.25, 0): Appalachian State, @Pittsburgh, Kent State. I already wrote about playing Pitt, but the gist of it is that it’s a Good Thing. The rest of this schedule is, like a Murphy bed, functional.
  6. Nebraska (0.25, 0): Akron, Colorado, Troy State. Speaking of dormant rivalries, I wholly support former Big 8/12 teams playing each other again. Especially when neither of them is still in the Big 12.
  7. Michigan State (0.25, 0): Utah State, @Arizona State, Central Michigan. I enjoy that Michigan State is playing two Western teams, and I enjoy even more that they’re going on the road to Tempe. Surely more than one Spartan will leave wondering why they didn’t consider Arizona State.
  8. Illinois (0.25, 1): Kent State, Western Illinois, N-South Florida. As I’m sure I’ll say a few weeks from now, that USF game is at Wrigley Field for some reason. As for this schedule, Illinois are really, really hoping that they win two f these games.
  9. Iowa (0.25, 1): Northern Illinois, Iowa State, Northern Iowa. NIU is pretty spicy usually, the Cyclones are improving, and UNI usually makes the FCS playoffs every year. Look, Iowa should pretty much always go 3-0 against this slate, but I’m just saying there’s a chance.
  10. Purdue (0, 0): Eastern Michigan, Missouri, Boston College. I feels like a schedule with two P5 teams should rate higher, but alas, those are the breaks when those teams are Mizzou and Boston College. But hey, that Purdue-Mizzou game figures to be pretty poinsty, so this may wind up being a fun OOC schedule nonetheless.
  11. Wisconsin (0, 0): Western Kentucky, New Mexico, Brigham Young. Three games at home, no threat to the road-paving Wisconsin offense, three very probable victories.
  12. Indiana (0, 0): @Florida International, Virginia, Ball State. I think the Indianas of the world should try to schedule those trips to Boca Raton at the end of the season, but what do I know?
  13. Rutgers (0, 0): Texas State, @Kansas, Buffalo. Whatever the opposite of the “Game of the Week” concept is, I’m pretty sure Rutgers at Kansas is going to be it.
  14. Minnesota (0, 0): New Mexico State, Fresno State, Miami. That’s the Miami in Ohio at the end there, and all the games at at home, so, alas, the boats will continue to be rowed strictly in the Land of 10,000 Lakes.

Rating the 2018 Non-Conference Slate: ACC

First up is the ACC. FCS teams are indicated in italics and a “N-” prefix indicates a neutral site game. Onward!

  1. Florida State (2 legit, 1 FCS): Samford, Northern Illinois, @Notre Dame, Florida. It may top the list, but this isn’t an interesting OOC slate, per se, thanks to Florida being an annual rivalry and Notre Dame being a quasi-ACC member.
  2. Pittsburgh (1.25, 1): Albany, Pennsylvania State, @Central Florida, @Notre Dame. Meanwhile, Pitt gets credit for getting Penn State on the schedule, and that road trip to Orlando could definitely be a thing. This is the sort of schedule that, if they actually had any hope, could actually #PutPuttIn.
  3. Georgia Tech (1.25, 1): Alcorn State, @South Florida, Bowling Green, @Georgia. The Tennessee game last year was fun, but of course wound up being a stomach punch in a way that few other Georgia Tech games have been in the 15 years since I matriculated at MaTech. Suffice it to say, Alcorn State will be much less stressful.
  4. Louisville (1, 1): N-Alabama, Indiana State, Western Kentucky, Kentucky. I took a quick look to figure out if there were any other notable Indiana State alumni other than Larry Bird, who will presumably be mentioned often on the broadcast of that game. The answer, as it turns out, is “no, not really”.
  5. Miami (1,1): N-Louisiana State, Savannah State, @Toledo, Florida International. Strap in, because in addition to UCF and USF above, we’ve got some weird G5 road games coming. First up is the Canes going to… Toledo of all places. Oh, and yeah, they’ve got a neutral site opener with LSU, which should pretty quickly prove whether the current conventional wisdom about both of those teams is correct or not.
  6. Syracuse (1, 1): @Western Michigan, Wagner, Connecticut, N-Notre Dame. See what I mean? Though to Western Michigan’s credit, they’ve done a pretty good job over the years of getting major teams to visit. To be honest, I’ve been expecting this sort of arrangement to become more common for years because it allows major programs to save some money.
  7. Virginia Tech (1, 1): William & Mary, East Carolina, @Old Dominion, Notre Dame. I really feel like I shouldn’t count Notre Dame for ACC teams at all. Maybe next year.
  8. Wake Forest (1, 1): @Tulane, Towson, Notre Dame, Rice. To continue the thought from above, the rating system says this is a more interesting schedule than Clemson’s. Yes, TAMU isn’t rated as a 1, but again Notre Dame is sorta-kinda-basically in the ACC anyway. Let’s just agree that Clemson should be ranked, say, 6th instead of 9th.
  9. Clemson (0.75, 1): Furman, @Texas A&M, Georgia Southern, South Carolina. Since I used up most of my thoughts about Clemson’s schedule above, let’s take a moment to appreciate the actual road game against a Power-5 opponent. That’s a trend I certainly wouldn’t mind seeing take-off, the good ol’ fashioned home-and-home.
  10. North Carolina State (0.5, 1): James Madison, Georgia State, West Virginia, @Marshall. NC State is looking to be the masters of the state of West Virginia, I guess.
  11. North Carolina (0.25, 1): @California, @East Carolina, Central Florida, Western Carolina. Ah, just a South Carolina away from having all of the Carolinas! Alas. That said, this should rate higher for the road trip out to Berkeley, though I suspect that game won’t be quite as much Culture Shock Central as when Ole Miss visited a few years ago.
  12. Duke (0.25, 1): Army, @Northwestern, @Baylor, North Carolina Central. This is about as bad of a rating as you can get with a schedule that features two Power 5 teams, but UNC edged them out with the road trip to Berkeley and a game with the Defending National Champions.
  13. Boston College (0, 1): Massachusetts, Holy Cross, @Purdue, Temple. Am I saying that with this schedule Purdue is a more interesting matchup than Indiana? Yes. Also, Temple is occasionally spicy, so there’s some credit there too.
  14. Virginia (0, 1.5): Richmond, @Indiana, Ohio, Liberty. Liberty is transitioning to FBS right now, so they count as half-a-FCS team. Other than that, there’s another road game. I guess these ACC schedules are going to be stack with home games in a year or two or something.