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:
- Dishonorable mentions: Wake Forest (two road games?), Missouri, Mississippi State.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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:
- ACC (0.207)
- Big Ten (0.203)
- Pac-12 (0.188)
- Big 12 (0.183)
- 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!