Monthly Archives: August 2014

This Weekend in College Football: Week 1

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

8:30: Pennsylvania State vs. Central Florida (@Dublin, Ireland; ESPN2):

FAN #1
Oh hey, wasn’t UCF actually kind of good last year?
FAN #2
Yeah, but they had Blake Bortles.
FAN #1
Do they still have Blake Bortles?
FAN #2
No, he got drafted.
FAN #1 
Wait, the peacetime draft is back? Thanks, Ob—
FAN #2
No. The NFL Draft. He was the third overall pick.
FAN #1
Behind Teddy Bridgewater and Johnny Manziel?
FAN #2
FAN #1
Oh. So I guess he was probably pretty good then.
FAN #2
Yeah, pretty much.
FAN #1
 I guess I’m going with Penn State in this one, then.


  • California-Los Angeles @ Virginia (ESPN): And so begins the “Mike London is So Fired” watch. This should give the hands a good shove toward “so very, very fired”, but not quite all the way there.
  • Appalachian State @ Michigan (ESPN2): Would it absolutely wonderful if Appalachian State won again? Yes, yes it would be. Will it happen? No, probably not.
  • North Dakota State @ Iowa State (FS1): Iowa State. Er, wait, didn’t NDSU beat Kansas State last year en route to a 15-0 season and the FCS national title? In that case, well, I like NDSU odds better than Appy State’s.
  • Western Michigan @ Purdue (ESPNU): I’d like to think that even Purdue could win this game, but life is full of uncertainty. (These two teams combined to go 2-22 last year.)
  • Indiana State @ Indiana (ESPNEWS): Hoosiers. (Did you know Indiana State are the Sycamores, though? And did you know Larry Bird went there? Just saying.)
  • Ohio State vs. Navy (@Baltimore, MD; CBSS): As fun as it would be to see Navy do their thing to the Buckeyes, it just doesn’t seem in the cards, Braxton Miller or no.
  • Tennessee-Martin @ Kentucky (SEC): Kentucky.
  • Northern Iowa @ Iowa (BTN): Iowa. Well, probably. They’ve messed this up before.
  • Youngstown State @ Illinois (BTN): Illinois.
  • Troy @ Alabama-Birmingham (FCS): It’s the Little Iron Bowl! I’m pretty sure no one calls it that, but hey, you take what you can get from these sorts of games. I’ll go with Troy.


  • Georgia Southern @ North Carolina State (ACC): NC State… probably.
  • Wofford @ Georgia Tech (ACC): It’s been a bit of a rough offseason for Tech. Attrition, injuries, etc. This game, if nothing else, will serve as a useful yardstick for how the offseason might have affected the team, and what we might see going forward this year.


  • Rice @ Notre Dame (NBC): Wait, isn’t Notre Dame the team that’s always going to Ireland to play American Football games? Why is it Penn State this year? Well, Penn State and UCF, but that doesn’t really help it make any more sense.
  • West Virginia vs. Alabama (@Atlanta, GA; ABC/ESPN2): It’s hard to see how the Mountaineers have much of a shot in this. Even calling it “much of a shot” might be a bit generous.
  • California @ Northwestern (ABC/ESPN2): No team seemed to be as affected by one loss as last year’s Northwestern. Rising to #16 and playing at home, they lost by 10 at home to Ohio State. From there, they lost seven straight games, including wrenchingly close losses to teams like Minnesota and Iowa that cost them bowl eligibility. Of course, the question is whether this Northwestern team is still mostly okay, and more importantly, whether they’re still better than Cal. My guess is yes.
  • South Dakota State @ Missouri (ESPNU): Missouri.
  • Florida Atlantic @ Nebraska (BTN): Nebraska.
  • James Madison @ Maryland (BTN): Maryland.


  • William and Mary @ Virginia Tech (ESPNEWS): Virginia Tech (but see the Iowa caveat above).
  • Arkansas @ Auburn (SEC): More stupidly early conference games to satisfy TV, ahoy! Hopefully Arkansas is the entertaining sort of terrible they’re capable of being and not the more milquetoast sort of terrible they’re currently more poised to be.
  • Portland State @ Oregon State (Pac12): Oregon State.
  • California-Davis @ Stanford (Pac12): Stanford.

5:30: Clemson @ Georgia (ESPN): Both these teams have lost a key players on the offensive side of the ball, with both starting quarterbacks gone. However, Georgia still returns a large chunk of their offensive production while Clemson replaces almost all their skill players. I reluctantly have to go with UGA in this one.


  • Idaho @ Florida (ESPNU): Florida.
  • Northern Arizona @ San Diego State (CBSS): San Diego State.


  • Fresno State @ Southern California (FOX): It’s a rematch of literally the last game these two teams played. Helpfully, USC won easily, which makes this one also easy.
  • Southern Mississippi @ Mississippi State (SEC): Miss State.


  • Oklahoma State vs. Florida State (@Arlington, TX; ABC): It’s the game of the year of the week! That said, how do you pick against the defending national champs that still have their dynamic, Heisman winning quarterback?
  • North Carolina Central @ East Carolina (ESPNEWS): ECU. (There’s a reason why I don’t ordinarily list these games.)

9:00: Louisiana State vs. Wisconsin (@Houston, TX; ESPN): I already used this in my OOC schedule preview, but dammit I really need to wrap this up, so: it’s hard to imagine two fanbases more broadly similar yet utterly different than Wisconsin and LSU. Obviously, every college football tailgater likes drinking (well, except maybe BYU fans), that’s not in dispute. Many of them also like eating. But I really feel like there could be some good inter-sectional bonding in the parking lots of Reliant Stadium (well, provided they don’t ban tailgating like at Levi’s Stadium), or at least some Midwesterners discovering the wonders of andouille. Also, LSU is probably going to win.


  • Washington @ Hawaii (CBSS): Washington.
  • South Dakota @ Oregon (Pac12): Oregon.

7:00: Utah State @ Tennessee (SEC): Sunday college football, for what I’m going to assume is the only time this year. I’m going to wearily pick the Vols here.

7:30: Southern Methodist @ Baylor (FS1): As noted in my OOC schedule previews, I am enthusiastic about the continued Southwest Conference rematches. I’m somewhat less enthusiastic about the Mustangs’ chances, though.

8:00: Miami @ Louisville (ESPN): Frankly, it’s hard to give Louisville much of a shot here in their ACC debut. They did not exactly excel in the depleted remnants of the Big East last year, and Miami returns a singular talent in Duke Johnson. It’s difficult to see how the Cardinals will keep up.

This Week in College Football: Week 1

As usual, all times Eastern and all predictions wrong.

7:00: Abilene Christian @ Georgia State (ESPNU): This is technically a FBS game, so I’ll make an exception for Week 1 and include all FBS games, even if they’re against FCS opponents. Other than it being the first game, there’s not really any reason to watch it, of course.

6:00: Texas Agricultural and Mechanical @ South Carolina (SEC): As much as I hate the fact that we keep playing Virginia Tech early in the season, I’d probably hate it even more if we had to play a conference game the first weekend of the season. Especially one as critical as this for both teams. I’m going to have to go with the Gamecocks here, though, unless TAMU’s defense has drastically improved int he offseason.


  • Wake Forest @ Louisiana-Monroe (ESPNU): Hey, it’s football, it’s on TV, and a Louisiana school is involved, so something crazy might happen. And hey, Monroe did beat them last year in Winston-Salem, so what the heck let’s go with them again.
  • Eastern Illinois @ Minnesota (BTN): Okay, even I have limits, and it’s likely nothing too weird will happen here.

7:30: Idaho State @ Utah (Pac12): Same, except this game might hold you over for a bit until you get to the night’s other game with a team from the Gem State.


  • Mississippi vs. Boise State (@Atlanta, GA; ESPN): Any early test for a supposedly much-improved Ole Miss team this year. That said, Boise had a luckluster 8-5 campaign last year. The flip side of that, of course, was that Boise was one of the youngest teams in the country last, and the cool thing about young teams is that a year later they aren’t as young anymore. Boise has lost supposedly indispensable coaches before: recall that the coach that originally put them on the map is the now throughly unhireable Dan Hawkins. Will they be able to cope this time? Probably not, but hopefully it’ll be fun to watch.
  • Tulane @ Tulsa (CBSS): It’s the opener for the new-new look American Athletic Conference, aka, the “please don’t call us ‘Conference USA’ by accident” league. These teams are coming off two drastically different 2013’s, but despite that it’s hard to pick Tulane.

9:15: Temple @ Vanderbilt (SEC): Vandy, at least in game one, shouldn’t have any hangover from the James Franklin era.

10:00: Rutgers vs. Washington State (@Seattle, WA; FS1): One assumes that the Air Raid will be even more potent in year two three up in Pullman. I expect to see some happy Wazzou fans in Seattle Thursday night.

10:30: Weber State @ Arizona State (Pac12): Again, this is here, well, because football!

7:00: Brigham Young @ Connecticut (ESPN): I had a vague memory that UConn had gotten a new coach this year, and I was correct! The head coach of the Huskies is now Bob Diaco. Who is Bob Diaco? Apparently he was a defensive assistant at Notre Dame last year. Huh. Well, given everything else about UConn, I still can’t say I like their odds against BYU.


  • Bowling Green @ Western Kentucky (CBSS): What happens when the MAC meets the Sun Belt Conference USA? Something, hopefully. Much like the preseason polls, pretty much the only thing I’m going on at this point is last year’s performances, and given that, I’d probably have to go with Bowling Green.
  • Jacksonville State @ Michigan State (BTN): Sparty!


  • Colorado State vs. Colorado (@Denver, CO; FS1): In an event that apparently no one remembers, these Colorado State Rams beat Washington State last year in the New Mexico Bowl (likely because it was a) the first day of bowl games and b) the New Mexico Bowl). At any rate, even last year’s sorry edition of Colorado managed to win pretty convincingly, so I’m going to go with history repeating itself.
  • Texas-San Antonio @ Houston (ESPNU): Houston probably shouldn’t have much trouble with a program still young enough be considered “upstart”. Of course, ESPN’s predictor thingy is saying that after opening with Houston, Arizona (at home! in the Alamodome!), and Oklahoma State that these Roadrunners will run the table. Huh. At any rate…

10:30: Nevada-Las Vegas @ Arizona (ESPN): It’s late. It’s the Friday of a long weekend. Let’s face it, the other Friday games haven’t been that great. You probably have better things to do. You could hit the town, especially given that you’ll have an extra day to recover. You may even be in an entirely different town (like me) with limited access to watch the games. So why should you watch this game? A game that the Rebels, who were okay last year actually, lost 58-13? I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: because it’s football. And who knows how long it’s going to last. At any rate, the Wildcats should have a walk-over.

Rating the 2014 Non-Conference Slate: Epilogue

And finally, the conclusion.

For all the talk about increased schedule strength in the era of the College Football Playoff, has it panned out in the first year? Let’s find out.

First, the shame list, which is the list of teams that play more than one Football Championship Subdivision and/or transitional teams: Georgia Tech, North Carolina State, and Vanderbilt. (Well, that’s an improvement over last year, at least.)

Next up, the list of teams that play zero FCS and/or transitional teams: Southern California, California-Los Angeles, Arizona, Colorado, Texas, Oklahoma, Ohio State, and Pennsylvania State. That’s up from five last year, so actually so far we do have stronger looking schedules. So far.

Let’s take a look at the worst of college football’s out-of-conference schedules:

  1. Dishonorable mentions: Wake Forest (two road games?), Missouri, Mississippi State.
  2. Vanderbilt (0, 1.5): Temple, Massachusetts, Charleston Southern, Old Dominion. While I did say that this is a schedule one would expect for the Vandys of the world, that doesn’t mean it’s a good schedule by any measure.
  3. North Carolina State (0, 2): Georgia Southern, Old Dominion, @South Florida, Presbyterian. This schedule is just plain awful. Two transitional teams and a normal FCS team? It boggles the mind, really. Luckily for NC State (otherwise I’m sure they wouldn’t have done this) those games do count for bowl eligibility. 

 Let’s wash that out with an overview of the best schedules in the land.

  1. Florida State (3, 1): N-Oklahoma State, Citadel, Notre Dame, Florida. This is a pretty epic out-of-conference schedule, folks. Florida State can run this gauntlet, then they will definitely have an argument to be in the title game with a loss.
  2. Clemson (2, 1): @Georgia, South Carolina State, Georgia State, South Carolina. This looks pretty good until you remember one of the games is a yearly rivalry, but still if Clemson can win either or both of those games it will be a platform they can build on for this season.
  3. Georgia (1.75, 1): Clemson, Troy, Charleston Southern, Georgia Tech. The luster is starting to fade a little bit here, since Georgia Tech only gets a 0.75 rating because A5 and I are biased.
  4. Honorable mentions: Miami (1.25), Northwestern (1.25), Michigan State (for playing Oregon), Oregon (for playing Michigan State), Texas (for playing BYU and UCLA), and UCLA (for playing Texas). While I’m at it, I guess that means I also need to throw in Wisconsin, LSU, and Nebraska.

Overall, compared to last year maybe it’s not that bad? But then again, we do have numbers. Here’s the ranking of each conference’s out-of-conference schedules:

  1. ACC (0.207)
  2. Big Ten (0.203)
  3. Pac-12 (0.188)
  4. Big 12 (0.183)
  5. SEC (0.147)

All these numbers are up from last year. So maybe there is hope for the future of out-of-conference scheduling. Which is good. As might be obvious by the fact I do this every year, I find these schedules an unique and interesting part of the college football. Some noise was made this past off-season about some coaches wanting to do away with these games, under the guise of getting rid of the “body-bag” games against FCS foes. The FCS issue isn’t that simple, though. While I prefer that teams not play FCS teams, is it really feasible to get rid of all those games entirely? I’m not favor of that if the proposed solution of “play one conference games” is adopted, that’s for sure.

Either way, the previews for the first weekend of the season will be up soon. It’s almost time!

    Rating the 2014 Non-Conference Slate: SEC

    And finally, the one conference to rule them all, the SEC.

    1. Georgia (1.75 legit, 1 FCS): Clemson, Troy, Charleston Southern, Georgia Tech. Two rivalry games are good enough to easily top the list for the SEC. Of course, it is nice to UGA and Clemson meet and it’s kind of a shame they don’t play more often.
    2. Tennessee (1, 1): Utah State, Arkansas State, @Oklahoma, Tennessee-Chattanooga. Don’t sleep on the the Aggies from Utah, Vols fans: the last few seasons they’ve either beaten other Power 5 foes or lost by less than five points. Also notable here is, of course, the road game in Norman.
    3. Florida (1, 1): Idaho, Eastern Michigan, Eastern Kentucky, @Florida State. Suffice it say, while Florida State is probably better than Oklahoma, Utah State was enough of a factor for me to give Tennessee the nudge to second. However…
    4. South Carolina (1, 1): East Carolina, Furman, South Alabama, @Clemson. I’ll admit I didn’t apply that principal consistently. A popular darkhorse this season is ECU, but I didn’t really give South Carolina any credit for them and instead rated them behind Florida on the strength of Florida State over Clemson.
    5. Auburn (0.75, 1): San Jose State, @Kansas State, Louisiana Tech, Samford. I can’t find any schedule information for beyond next year, but I suspect that some point in the future Auburn fans will probably need to know the way to San Jose. (And if that does happen, I would totally go. Provided I’m in town.) Otherwise, there’s a game against K-State that could be interesting depending on how well Bill Synder’s juco-based magics have worked this year.
    6. Louisiana State (0.75, 1): N-Wisconsin, Sam Houston State, Louisiana-Monroe, New Mexico State. I discovered today that apparently LSU really doesn’t like it when you write “Louisiana State” instead of “LSU”. Which means that I’m going to keep doing that, because that’s just how we roll here. In other news, it’s hard to imagine two fanbases more broadly similar yet utterly different than Wisconsin and LSU.
    7. Alabama (0.5, 1): N-West Virginia, Florida Atlantic, Southern Mississippi, Western Carolina. Saban is robbed of a chance to return to his ancestral homeland since the WVU game is a neutral site affair. Otherwise, this is sort of a weak schedule for a national title contender, but then again, if Alabama does end up 13-0 it won’t really matter.
    8. Arkansas (0.5, 1): Nicholls State, @Texas Tech, Northern Illinois, Alabama-Birmingham. I figured one of these games would be Arkansas’s obligatory Little Rock game for the season, but apparently they’re going to play Georgia there this year. Huh.
    9. Mississippi (0.5, 1): N-Boise State, Louisiana-Lafayette, Memphis, Presbyterian. If Boise is still a national player with the departure of their erstwhile coach, then this is their chance to prove it. For Ole Miss, well, there’s no real upside to this schedule. They’re picked to be better this year and maybe a longshot contender in the SEC, and for that to happen they need to go 4-0.
    10. Kentucky (0.5, 1): Tennessee-Martin, Ohio, Louisiana-Monroe, @Louisville. Yes, the Louisville game is listed last. And why? Because the game is now Thanksgiving weekend, where all rivalry games belong (provided you only have one rival, of course). The last time the game was even played in November was in 1914. Of course, the two teams have only been meeting regularly 1994, so it’s a relatively newfangled game.
    11. Missouri (0, 1): South Dakota State, @Toledo, Central Florida, Indiana. A5 (he helps with the ratings) and I realized after the fact that maybe UCF deserved some “legit” points after their season last year, but it was a tough call. I’ll give them some credit by rating Missouri’s schedule head of TAMU’s, though.
    12. Texas Agricultural and Mechanical (0, 1): Lamar, Rice, @Southern Methodist, Louisiana-Monroe. Going on the road to SMU isn’t that weird, I mean, that used to be a regular thing. You know, twenty years ago. Either way, it’s also nice to see TAMU play Rice, even if I can’t use the “why does Rice play Texas” joke because a) they’re playing TAMU and b) I used that joke like four years ago.
    13. Mississippi State (0, 1): Southern Mississippi, Alabama-Birmingham, @South Alabama, Tennessee-Martin. I just want so badly to be watching College Football Final the evening of the 13th and hear Rece Davis say “You just don’t walk into Ladd-Peebles Stadium!” except I’m going to be in Europe at the time and I’ll probably miss it. Alas.
    14. Vanderbilt (0, 1.5): Temple, Massachusetts, Charleston Southern, Old Dominion. Well, if I were Vandy, this is probably the kind of out-of-conference schedule I’d strive for, so I can’t say I blame them. It’s still pretty lame though.

    Rating the 2014 Non-Conference State: Pac-12

    The margins between these teams are pretty thin in terms of OOC schedule quality this year. Here’s my attempt at sorting them out.

    1. Southern California (1 legit, 0 FCS): Fresno State, @Boston College, Notre Dame. USC is number one here, even with the “yearly rivalry game caveat” from playing Notre Dame, mostly because I feel like Fresno State and Boston College combined are better than UVA and Memphis.
    2. California-Los Angeles (1, 0): @Virginia, Memphis, N-Texas. The neutral site game with Texas is cool, but Virginia and Memphis may do well to break 10 points combined against UCLA.
    3. Oregon (1, 1): South Dakota, Michigan State, Wyoming. In all honesty, the Oregon-Michigan State game is probably more intriguing than any single one of USC’s or UCLA’s games, but in those cases quantity and a lack of FCS opponents means I had to put them on top.
    4. Utah (1, 1): Idaho State, Fresno State, @Michigan. Utah can figure out how to play old MWC foe Fresno State (who might well beat them this year) but not Utah State and/or BYU? Then again, perhaps I’m speaking too soon, it looks like the Aggies will be back next year and then in 2016 through 2018 the Stormin’ Mormons will return.
    5. Stanford (1, 1): California-Davis, Army, @Notre Dame. In reality, Stanford and Arizona State’s schedules are pretty much a tie, though chances are going to South Bend is probably the slightly more difficult draw.
    6. Arizona State (1, 1): Weber State, @New Mexico, Notre Dame. Somehow, a game at New Mexico is not actually the Pac-12’s oddest road game of the year.
    7. California (0.75, 1): @Northwestern, Sacramento State, Brigham Young. If this game had been played a year earlier, Cal probably would’ve been put a little higher, but Northwestern falling apart after the loss to Ohio State last year also dropped their legit rating.
    8. Arizona (0, 0): Nevada-Las Vegas, @Texas-San Antonio, Nevada. The Wildcats usually don’t have a great schedule, so I suppose they deserve some kudos for not having any FCS teams. That said, UTSA just dropped the “transitional” tag, so they sort of got lucky there.
    9. Colorado (0, 0): N-Colorado State, @Massachusetts, Hawaii. I guess going on the road to UMass isn’t that great either, but good on the Minutemen for securing two home games against Power 5 teams.
    10. Washington State (0, 1): N-Rutgers, @Nevada, Portland State. I’ve just run out of things to say about teams playing odd road games at this point, though I admit I’m a little biased because I don’t think that playing Nevada is as “bad” as UTSA or UMass for some reason.
    11. Washington (0, 1): @Hawaii, Eastern Washington, Illinois. Inexplicable road game I’d like to see: someone playing on Eastern Washington’s blood-red turf. Alas. (It looks even “better” on TV, since the field usually just fills up the screen.)
    12. Oregon State (0, 1): Portland State, @Hawaii, San Diego State. Also, in case you’re wondering, Hawaii gets a pass from me since, hey, I’m not going to blame anyone for wanting to go on an expenses-paid trip to Hawaii.