Category Archives: ACC

Rating the 2019 Non-Conference Slate

Once again, my brother and I have assigned ratings to every single Power 5 conference team (and a select few Group of 5 teams, more on that in a second). You can view our methodology here.

This year we rated 71 teams, including 23 teams we rated as 0. Group of 5 teams that were rated higher than 0 were Central Florida (0.75), Cincinnati (0.25), Houston (0.5), Brigham Young (0.25), and Boise State (0.5). 11 teams rated as 0.25, 11 also rated as 0.5, 5 rated as 0.75, and 21 rated as 1.

The 21 teams earning a 1 were: Alabama, Auburn, California-Los Angeles, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisiana State, Miami, Michigan, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Oregon, Pennsylvania State, Southern California, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin.

The average ratings for each Power 5 conference were

  1. Pac-12 (0.521)
  2. Big 12 (0.5)
  3. SEC (0.482)
  4. Big Ten (0.446)
  5. ACC (0.392)

The general rule is that since this is an average, the smaller conferences have an advantage since their 1’s count more, in essence. The SEC and Big Ten have five 1’s each, which outranks anyone else, but they’re dragged down by the Vanderbilts and Rutgers of the world.

First, a quick key: “legit” is the sum of all ratings of all the out-of-conference games a team plays; “FCS” is the number of FCS teams scheduled, and each FCS team is indicated in italics; “N-” indicates that the game will be played at a neutral site; “@” indicates the game is an away game, all other games not otherwise indicated are home games.

ACC

  1. Duke (2 legit, 1 FCS): N-Alabama, North Carolina A&T, @Middle Tennessee State, Notre Dame. Even though I don’t usually give ACC teams credit for playing Notre Dame (due to the Irish being quasi-ACC members), this is still a pretty onerous schedule, especially with a potentially feisty trip to Murfreesboro.
  2. Pittsburgh (1.75, 1): Ohio, @Pennsylvania State, Central Florida, Delaware. It’s always nice to see old rivalries dusted off, so bonus points are earned here. Oh, and yeah they play UCF. Have fun with that!
  3. Florida State (1.5, 1): N-Boise State, Louisiana-Monroe, Alabama State, @Florida. Florida State-Boise State is one of the more intriguing Week 1 contests. That’ll be a good milepost for both teams. For FSU, it will indicate whether or not they can field an offensive line this season. For Boise, it’s their only shot at a power conference team all year, and they’ll need the win to make an argument over UCF or Houston for that coveted Group of 5 spot in the New Year’s Day bowls.
  4. Georgia Tech (1, 1): South Florida, Citadel, @Temple, Georgia. This could be very much a Year 0 for my beloved Jackets. The USF game sets up right there in Week 2 after what will surely be a… rough start after Week 1’s ACC Network ritual sacrifice at Clemson. The Citadel looks to be one of the only sure wins on the schedule. Somehow we managed to hire a coach from a school that we would play in his first season, and there’s a fair chance they may beat us. And then there’s UGA. I’m still mildly amazed that not only did Paul Johnson manage to beat them three times, but that all three wins were in Athens. While we did miss seeing the students rush the field and tear down the goalposts, we did get plenty of overwrought press about hedge damage, so I guess it evens out.
  5. Miami (1, 1): N-Florida, Bethune-Cookman, Central Michigan, N-Florida International. I know it really wreaks havoc with their out-of-conference scheduling, but Miami should play Florida every year. Now, whether or not they should play in Week 0 in Orlando is an open question.
  6. Louisville (1, 1): Notre Dame, Eastern Kentucky, N-Western Kentucky, @Kentucky. Props to directional Kentucky schools for consistently being Eastern and Western, unlike certain other states that we’ll get to in a minute. Oh, and Louisville is going to be a tire first this year. But hey, you guys were the only football team in the universe that wanted to hire a Bobby Petrino a second time, so you should’ve known what you were getting into.
  7. Boston College (1, 1): Richmond, Kansas, @Rutgers, @Notre Dame. They’re rated seventh because they managed to schedule the arguably two worst teams in the Power 5 conferences, but somehow that still gets them above Virginia. Look, I don’t make the rules… oh, wait, yes I do, nevermind.
  8. Virginia (1, 1): William & Mary, Old Dominion, @Notre Dame, Liberty. Would UVA fans take a deal wherein they lose to ODU like Virginia Tech did last year in exchange for UVA beating Virginia Tech this year? Seriously Hoos, think about it.
  9. Virginia Tech (1, 2): Old Dominion, Furman, Rhode Island, @Notre Dame. VPI gets to exact revenge on those devious Monarchs, except that, well, the Hokies may be worse this year. Oh, and they get to go to South Bend, that should be fun. Also remember that only one of the FCS teams counts for bowl eligibility. They currently hold the nation’s longest consecutive bowl streak with Florida State bowing out this year, but it could real tough for the Hokies this year.
  10. Clemson (0.75, 1): Texas A&M, Charlotte, Wofford, @South Carolina. Unfortunately for Clemson, South Carolina is just, kinda, well, South Carolina. Otherwise the Texas A&M game would allow them to be rated here, but that’s just the way it goes.
  11. North Carolina State (0.5, 1): East Carolina, Western Carolina, @West Virginia, Ball State. East Carolina and Western Carolina are both in North Carolina. The question is: why is one East and the other Western? The world may never know.
  12. Wake Forest (0.25, 1): Utah State, @Rice, North Carolina, Elon. Wake could well lose two of these games. Oof. Well, then again, UNC may be a trash fire in Mack’s first year, and Utah state is certainly winnable, even if the Aggies are one of the best G5 teams. Rice, though? Yeah, that’s a win.
  13. North Carolina (0, 1): N-South Carolina, Wake Forest, Appalachian State, Mercer. And since I forgot to mention it in the Wake blurb up there: yes, Wake Forest and North Carolina are playing a non-conference game against each other. It’s dumb, yes, but it’s also a good indication of how broken the ACC’s division structure is. The last time the two in-state rivals played was in 2015, and the next time they’ll play is in-conference is 2022. So dumb.
  14. Syracuse (0, 1): @Liberty, @Maryland, Western Michigan, Holy Cross. I’m still more than willing to give some side-eye to scheduling two non-conference road games in the same season. Especially if one of them is frickin’ Liberty.

Big Ten

  1. Michigan (1, 0): Middle Tennessee State, Army, Notre Dame. The Big Ten could be admired for its scheduling ethos of discouraging FCS opponents and matchups against other FBS teams, especially from the Power 5 conferences. However, the actual implementation, at least for 2019, seems to have created a situation where no Big Ten team plays a really, truly exciting non-conference game. Like, the most talked about Big Ten out-of-conference game that I’ve heard about all offseason is Army going to Ann Arbor. Look, I know they took Oklahoma to overtime last year, but I don’t think Michigan will be fooled. 
  2. Purdue (0.75, 0): @Nevada, Vanderbilt, Texas Christian. This schedule, with its three distinct tiers of teams, should provide the Boilermakers with a good indication of where they’re at entering conference play.
  3. Northwestern (0.75, 0): @Stanford, Nevada-Las Vegas, Massachusetts. Northwestern-Stanford is a good series, but I’m not sure the games themselves will be all that exciting. 
  4. Nebraska (0.25, 0): South Alabama, @Colorado, Northern Illinois. One thing that does pop up a couple of times in this Big Ten slate is the rekindling of a couple of old rivalries. Here, we’ve got the Cornhuskers making their first trip to Boulder since 2010. The two teams played every season from 1949 until then, and picked up a home-and-home last year that the Buffs won 33-28. Nebraska has dominated the all-time series, 49-19-2. 
  5. Michigan State (0.25, 0): Tulsa, Western Michigan, Arizona State. Sparty gets a visit from the Sun Devils after losing a 16-13 contest last year. I doubt the return leg will be much more pointsy than the first, but like I said with this Big Ten slate, we’ll take what we can get.
  6. Ohio State (0.25, 0): Florida Atlantic, Cincinnati, Miami. Cincinnati and Ohio State basically never play, and when they do it hasn’t been competitive. The Buckeyes are 14-2 all time, and those two losses came in the 19th century. So, yeah, it’d be tough to call that a rivalry.
  7. Iowa (0.25, 0): Miami, @Iowa State, Middle Tennessee State. MTSU plays Michigan, Duke, and Iowa non-conference. Get money get paid, I suppose.
  8. Rutgers (0, 0): Massachusetts, Boston College, Liberty. Rutgers is basically at the top of the heap here because BC is a Power 5 team and they don’t play any FBS teams, though UMass and Liberty are probably some of the weakest FBS opponents you could possibly schedule.
  9. Maryland (0, 1): Howard, Syracuse, @Temple. I made the executive decision here to rate teams that play other Power 5 teams ahead of the ones that don’t, even if they play a FBS team. Also, the game at Temple could be kinda spicy.
  10. Pennsylvania State (0, 1): Idaho, Buffalo, Pittsburgh. Penn State played Pitt basically every year before they joined the Big Ten, so always good to see that sort of thing. Of course, right now the two teams are… far apart, with the last two meetings in 2017 and 2018 having a combined score of Penn State 84, Pittsburgh 20.
  11. Wisconsin (0, 0): @South Florida, Central Michigan, Kent State. Wisconsin goes down to Orlando for Week 1. Bring sunscreen, some shorts, and try to stay hydrated, Wisconsinites.
  12. Minnesota (0, 1): South Dakota State, @Fresno State, Georgia Southern. I think it’s way more like the Gophers go 3-0 against this slate than 0-3, but boy howdy this is about as hard as a schedule you could come up with without any Power 5 teams. You have a FCS national title contender, a road trip to Fresno, and you have an option. Have fun!
  13. Illinois (0, 0): Akron, @Connecticut, Eastern Michigan. Even Illinois can probably go 3-0 against this bunch. Oof.
  14. Indiana (0, 1): N-Ball State, Eastern Illinois, Connecticut. And finally, we’ve got the Hoosiers. It’s difficult for me to think of anything to really say about this schedule, it sort of just is. The “neutral site” game is in Idianapolis, for what it’s worth.

Big 12

  1. Oklahoma (1.5, 1): Houston, South Dakota, @California-Los Angeles. I’m sure Sooner fans would like to contrast them playing Houston while Texas plays Rice, but it’s not like Oklahoma plays Houston all the time. USD is probably the least successful of the Dakota schools, and UCLA, well, they’re still rebuilding.
  2. Texas (1, 0): Louisiana Tech, Louisiana State, N-Rice. This past summer was the 50th anniversary of Apollo 11 landing on the surface of the moon, so I’ll use that as a weak excuse to re-link my preview from 9 years ago. Still applicable and they’re playing once again in Houston’s NFL stadium. In other news, the Longhorns will also play two teams from Louisiana, once of which they should be vastly more worried about than the other.
  3. West Virginia (0.5, 1): James Madison, @Missouri, North Carolina State. I still have to remind myself that WVU-Mizzou is not a repeat of the Wake Forest-UNC situation, as it’s actually a non-conference game. The weirdest part to me, though, is that I can always instantaneously recall that West Virginia is in the Big 12 now, but it always takes me a second to remember that Mizzou joined the SEC. Maybe it’s because WVU’s former home, the Big East, isn’t a football conference anymore? Who knows, brains are weird.
  4. Iowa State (0.5, 1): Northern Iowa, Iowa, Louisiana-Monroe. As per usual, Iowa State’s schedule is filled with as many Iowa teams as they can get credit for playing. Of course, this occasionally backfires, by which I mean Iowa State has lost 3 of their last 5 games against UNI. Even funnier, of course, are the occasions where they lose to UNI and then beat Iowa, which last happened in 2014. El Assico is truly the most underrated rivalry in sports.
  5. Kansas State (0.25, 1): Nicholls State, Bowling Green, @Mississippi State. The post-Synder era gets a relatively soft landing to start off, assuming of course they don’t start 0-3 and immediately bring him back.
  6. Texas Christian (0.25, 1): Arkansas-Pine Bluff, @Purdue, Southern Methodist. I had to look this up: apparently TCU and SMU play every year, even though TCU is now in the Big 12, though apparently the contract runs out after this season. Let’s hope the Battle for the Iron Skillet gets picked back up soon.
  7. Oklahoma State (0, 1): @Oregon State, McNeese State, @Tulsa. I guess maybe there is something to scheduling “winnable” road games, unless of course this is actually THE YEAR OF THE BEAVER and OSU is merely west coast OSU’s first victim.
  8. Texas Tech (0, 1): Montana State, Texas-El Paso, @Arizona. Who knows how good Arizona will e this year, and it’s also entirely possible UTEP may be worse than Montana State this year. Overall a manageable slate for first-year head coach Matt Wells. 
  9. Kansas (0, 1): Indiana State, Coastal Carolina, @Boston College. Still astonished that Les Miles is the new head coach at KU. Hopefully their new-found chestiness will get them at least two wins out of this slate, because, well, they’re Kansas.
  10. Baylor (0, 1): Stephen F. Austin, Texas-San Antonio, @Rice. See Texas, if Baylor can be bothered to play at the Rice Bowl, why can’t you?

Pac-12

  1. Stanford (1.75, 0): Northwestern, @Central Florida, Notre Dame. I’m sure the road game at UCF seemed like a good idea the time, but… yeah, instead Stanford has what may be the most difficult out-of-conference slate for a Power 5 team. Good luck!
  2. California-Los Angeles (1.25, 0): @Cincinnati, San Diego State, Oklahoma. 1-2 or 0-3 is not out of the question for UCLA against this slate. Oof.
  3. Southern California (1.25, 0): Fresno State, @Brigham Young, @Notre Dame. Speaking of 1-2 or 0-3, look at this banger for USC. Yes, they should beat Fresno and BYU, but will they? Or will it finally be enough to get rid of Clay Helton, whose name I have just finally been able to consistently remember?
  4. Colorado (1, 0): N-Colorado State, Nebraska, Air Force. Two in-state schools and an old Big 8 rival. Checks out.
  5. Oregon (1, 1): N-Auburn, Nevada, Montana. I felt bad about rating Oregon’s schedule this low, especially given they have a feisty FCS team on the schedule. But rules are rules, and it’s my job to (arbitrarily) enforce them. 
  6. Oregon State (1, 1): Oklahoma State, @Hawaii, California Polytechnic State. Trying to figure out what to put there for Cal Poly was perhaps the hardest part of this whole preview. As you may have noticed, I prefer using the “full name” of the schools when possible. The Wikipedia article for Cal Poly does say “California Polytechnic State University”, so that’s what I went with.
  7. Arizona State (0.5, 1): Kent State, Sacramento State, @Michigan State.  Well, I already talked about ASU going to East Lansing, so… um, well, Have You Considered Arizona State?
  8. Washington State (0.5, 1): New Mexico State, Northern Colorado, N-Houston. So yeah, Houston plays both Oregon and Wazzu this season. If they want to go for it under Year 1 with Dana Holgorsen, well, they certainly have the schedule to do so.
  9. California (0.25, 1): California-Davis, North Texas, @Mississippi. Well, I don’t know how many Ole Miss fans made it out to Berkeley last year, but boy howdy I hope some of the native California types I know decide to make the trip to Oxford. I’m chuckling quietly to myself just thinking about the culture shock. (Well, imagined culture shock, because being from Alabama it’s a point of pride that I’ve only ever crossed the Mississippi state line for transportation purposes, and also one Boy Scout trip to Vicksburg. After all, when you’re the 49th ranked state in most metrics, you gotta keep up appearances when dealing with the 50th ranked state.)
  10. Utah (0.25, 1): @Brigham Young, Northern Illinois, Idaho State. The Holy War is back once again, thankfully.
  11. Washington (0.25, 1): Eastern Washington, Hawaii, @Brigham Young. One of these days, we gotta figure out how to get a FBS team to visit Eastern Washington’s blood red field, but until then, we’ll just have to settle for them to visit Seattle.
  12. Arizona (0, 1): @Hawaii, Northern Arizona, Texas Tech. 2019: Hawaii tries to beat the entire Pac-12! Well, at least it feels that way. The Bearcats also will try to avoid losing to NAU for the first time since 1932.

SEC

  1. Florida (2, 2): N-Miami, Tennessee-Martin, Towson, Florida State. I felt conflicted on this one. I usually don’t give credit for rivalry games, but Florida-Miami isn’t a regularly scheduled game. On the other hand, the Gators also play two FCS teams. Regardless, playing Miami is enough to vault them to the top.
  2. Georgia (1.5, 1): Murray State, Arkansas State, Notre Dame, @Georgia Tech. The Irish head down to Athens this year, which, well, have fun with that y’all. 
  3. South Carolina (1.25, 1): N-North Carolina, Charleston Southern, Appalachian State, Clemson. Well, the UNC-USC game has a Wiki page, so I guess it’s a real rivalry? Also I would be delighted if they managed to lose to App State.
  4. Texas A&M (1, 1): Texas State, @Clemson, Lamar, Texas-San Antonio. A&M-Clemson is definitely one of the headlining out-of-conference games of the season, but the lack of any other meat on this schedule results in a 4th place ranking.
  5. Louisiana State (1, 1): Georgia Southern, @Texas, Northwestern State, Utah State. LSU gets a bump above Auburn thanks to Georgia Southern, since I consider Texas and Oregon to be a wash. Utah State doesn’t hurt either.
  6. Auburn (1, 1): N-Oregon, Tulane, Kent State, Samford. See above. Like I said about TAMU, there’s not much else here other than Oregon. 
  7. Missouri (0.5, 1): @Wyoming, West Virginia, Southeast Missouri State, Troy. Mizzou goes to Wyoming in Week 0, don’t sleep on that y’all. Also, they somehow guaranteed they would get Neal Brown, thanks to him leaving Troy for… West Virginia.
  8. Mississippi State (0.5, 1): N-Louisiana-Lafayette, Southern Mississippi, Kansas State, Abilene Christian. They’re playing the Ragin’ Cajuns in New Orleans which seems like a… poor idea. I mean, the Bulldogs should win easily, but most of the time when these types of games are scheduled you don’t schedule a Group of 5 team that could actually sell their 50% allotment of the seats. This schedule continues to be pretty feisty with visits from Southern Miss and K-State.
  9. Vanderbilt (0.25, 1): @Purdue, Northern Illinois, Nevada-Las Vegas, East Tennessee State. I’m having a hard time thinking of any particular thoughts or feelings about this schedule.
  10. Alabama (0.25, 1): N-Duke, New Mexico State, Southern Mississippi, Western Carolina. Well, unlike in years past, I probably won’t have to worry about the Labor Day game. Also, you’ll hear a lot about Southern Miss beating Alabama, which is fun and all, but the last time happened was in 2000. Want to feel old? The freshmen on these teams weren’t alive when that happened. You’re welcome.
  11. Tennessee (0.25, 1): Georgia State, Brigham Young, Tennessee-Chattanooga, Alabama-Birmingham. Believer or not, Tennessee beating BYU would probably be a good indicator of how good the Vols will be under new management. Also, watch out for UAB.
  12. Mississippi (0, 1): @Memphis, Southeastern Louisiana, California, New Mexico State. It’s time for your annual reminder that Memphis is in fact in Tennessee, not Mississippi, and that Ole Miss could well lose that game. Also, I already talked about Berkeley-ites going to Oxford, MS, so go read that again and pretend that I also wrote it here.
  13. Kentucky (0, 1): Toledo, Eastern Michigan, Tennessee-Martin, Louisville. This is definitely a list of teams that Kentucky will play this season, no doubt about it. Well, unless there’s some sort of natural disaster, I guess.
  14. Arkansas (0, 1): Portland State, Colorado State, San Jose State, Western Kentucky. For being at the bottom of the list, this is actually a delightfully odd schedule. Oh, for sure the Razorbacks will be well and truly favored in all these games, but look at the geography: outside of the Hilltoppers, you’ve got two teams from the Mountain West Conference and a FCS team from Oregon. Wonder if Arkansas has to pay more than usual for a Group of 5/FCS team if they’re that far away.

And now, the requisite epilogue section. First up is the List of Shame, for teams that play more than one FCS opponent. This year, I’ve got two entries, and no good excuses, as far as I know: Virginia Tech and Florida. That’s it! Good job, everyone else.

Next up, the list of teams that play more than one Power Five team:

  • Duke (Alabama, Notre Dame)
  • Louisville (Notre Dame, Kentucky)
  • Boston College (Kansas, Rutgers, Notre Dame)
  • Clemson (Texas A&M, South Carolina)
  • North Carolina (South Carolina, Wake Forest)
  • Stanford (Northwestern, Notre Dame)
  • Florida (Miami, Florida State)
  • Georgia (Notre Dame, Georgia Tech)
  • South Carolina (North Carolina, Clemson)
  • West Virginia (Missouri, North Carolina State)
  • Purdue (Vanderbilt, Texas Christian)

Yeah, maybe Notre Dame shouldn’t count for ACC teams. I’m debating that for next year. 

And finally, here are the conference’s average “legit” ratings:

  1. Pac-12 (0.25)
  2. ACC (0.188)
  3. SEC (0.17)
  4. Big 12 (0.133)
  5. Big Ten (0.083)

For the fourth year in a row, the Big Ten is dead last. As I said last year, and again this year, it seems that the Big Ten’s scheduling guidelines don’t really do a lot to help create interesting matchups. The Pac-12 and Big 12 also have only three out-of-conference games and their teams seem to do a consistently better job scheduling these games. Hopefully this changes soon. 

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.

Rating the 2017 Non-Conference Slate: ACC

Let’s start off our review with the Atlantic Coast Conference. An explanation of the rating system can be found here. FCS teams are indicated by italics. “N-” prefixes indicate neutral site games.

  1. Florida State (2 legit, 1 FCS): N-Alabama, Louisiana-Monroe, Delaware State, @Florida. The ACC will get off to a crackin’ start on Labor Day weekend, and it’s not a coincidence the two teams that will play in the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium are at the top of this list. (Which reminds me: is there a funny name out there for the new Dome? In Dallas there’s Jerry Jones’s Intergalactic Space Palace, so what would the Atlanta equivalent be? Arthur Blank’s Pan-Universal Fun Dome? I’m open to suggestions.) Of course, don’t let the realization that it’s entirely possibly FSU and Bama will meet again, probable even, in the college football playoff. Especially not that they could meet in the very same stadium again.
  2. Georgia Tech (1.75, 1): N-Tennessee, Jacksonville State, @Central Florida, Georgia. Us Tech-types have been aching for years to get into the party that takes place every Labor Day weekend a mile from campus, so the the chance to make it four straight against the SEC East is just gravy. Meanwhile, I’m as against it as anyone else, but I will at least note that when you see major conference teams play games at Group of Five stadiums it’s usually as part of a multi-game deal or the major conference team is saving money. Hopefully I remember this when the return game comes around in 2020.
  3. Pittsburgh (1, 1): Youngstown State, @Pennsylvania State, Oklahoma State, Rice. This is an OOC schedule that checks all the boxes. 1) Does it involve a non-mandatory rivalry? Check. 2) Does it feature a geographically distant major-conference foe? Check.
  4. Clemson (1, 1): Kent State, Auburn, Citadel, @South Carolina. Clemson’s fate this season has vastly more to do with their in-conference games with Florida State and Louisville, but nonetheless the return game of this Tigers-Tigers series is rife with implication, provided Auburn is any good. Also, it gives us something to look forward to in the desert that usually is Week 2.
  5. Boston College (1, 0): @Northern Illinois, Notre Dame, Central Michigan, @Connecticut. Okay, one road game against a G5 opponent I can understand, but how do you manage to get two on the schedule at once? Nonetheless, the Golden Eagles get credit for ducking a FCS opponent this year, depending on how you feel about UConn. (Which for most, I suspect, is nothing.)
  6. Syracuse (1, 1): Central Connecticut State, Middle Tennessee State, Central Michigan, @Louisiana State. So this year I switched the spreadsheet to a system that allowed the “legit” points to be grabbed from another sheet and automatically calculated. There were some occasional mistakes, but this is a good example of one I didn’t catch until I was putting the rankings together. “Yeah, let’s see, FCS, MTSU, Central Mich… oh right, LSU, yeah that should probably rate higher than 13th.”
  7. North Carolina State (1, 1): N-South Carolina, Marshall, Furman, @Notre Dame. It’s hard to know what to do with Notre Dame on an ACC team’s schedule these days, since it’s not really an organic matchup. So that’s how you get a game at LSU counting better than a game at Notre Dame and a neutral site game against South Carolina.
  8. Miami (1, 1): Bethune-Cookman, @Arkansas State, Toledo, Notre Dame. Miami continues its tour of random G5 campuses, this team flying to… whereever you fly to get to Jonesboro, Arkansas. Memphis, I guess? Anyway, I decided to stay consistent with my earlier assessment of the Notre Dame thing.
  9. North Carolina (1, 1): California, @Old Dominion, Notre Dame, Western Carolina. Okay, seriously, what is up ACC teams? Did everyone get together at Media Days a few years ago and decide “yes, let’s schedule all of our road games against non-major opponents in the same season“? That’s four out of nine so far!
  10. Wake Forest (1, 1): Presbyterian, Utah State, @Appalachian State, @Notre Dame. 5 out of 10!
  11. Duke (0.5, 1): North Carolina Central, Northwestern, Baylor, @Army. 6 out of 11!
  12. Virginia (0.5, 1): William & Mary, Indiana, Connecticut, @Boise State. 7 out of 12!
  13. Virginia Tech (0.5, 1): N-West Virginia, Delaware, @East Carolina, Old Dominion. 8 out of 13!
  14. Louisville (0, 1): N-Purdue, Kent State, Murray State, @Kentucky. Nine out of… oh, right, Kentucky’s in the SEC.

Click below to see my closing thoughts.


In the hopes you don’t see 9-14 as a cop out, here’s some serious commentary:

  • That Cal game is all about the return trip. 
  • Hot take: Wake will either got 4-0 against that slate or 1-3, with no in between.
  • The @Army game seriously isn’t some sort of Mike Krzyzewksi thing, right?
  • If I were a UVA fan I’d be seriously worried about going 0-4 against that slate. Oof.
  • asimsports wholeheartedly endorses non-conference games against West Virginia, but, uh, anywhere but NFL stadiums, and especially anywhere but Fedex Field.
  • Okay, so the Kentucky joke was a bit of a cheap shot, especially considering who won last year. Playing a neutral site game against, uh, Purdue is, um, interesting?

Speaking of the Boilermakers, they’re up next!

    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.

    ACC

    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.

    Southeastern

    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 missouri.edu, 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!

      Rating the 2015 Non-Conference Slate: ACC

      As always, the first to go with the Atlantic Coast Conference. Let’s do this. (Note: FCS teams are marked in italics.)

      1. Virginia (2.25 legit, 1 FCS): @California-Los Angeles, Notre Dame, William & Mary, Boise State. By far the strongest non-conference schedule in college football this year. Though it’s debatable whether Notre Dame is “non-conference” for ACC teams, but that’s something we’ll think about for next year. For now, every FBS non-conference team the Cavs play is rated. Ordinarily, we’d say this doesn’t bode well for Mike London’s job, but we’ve been saying that for what feels like two or three years at this point, so it’s not entirely clear now what would actually get him fired.
      2. Georgia Tech (2, 1): Alcorn State, Tulane, @Notre Dame, Georgia. This also rates as a tough schedule, but even then it feels like a bit of a cop-out because of Notre Dame’s arrangement with the ACC and because Georgia is a yearly rivalry game. That said, this is still one of the toughest GT schedules (overall) that I can recall since I started following them in 2003, so I’d say it deserves some recognition.
      3. Clemson (1.75, 1): Wofford, Appalachian State, Notre Dame, @South Carolina. Of course, the only reason we’re not tied with Clemson is because Georgia is a 1 and South Carolina is a 0.75. If it were tied, I probably would’ve broken the tie by saying Appalachian State is better than Tulane.
      4. Pittsburgh (1.25, 1): Youngstown State, @Akron, @Iowa, Notre Dame. This year it felt like there were a lot of road legs of 2-for-1’s or 3-for-1’s with lesser FBS teams, which hopefully I’ll remember not to harp on too often. I’ll save my other joke on this schedule for the Iowa blurb.
      5. Louisville (1, 1): N-Auburn, Houston, Samford, @Kentucky. First off, good on you folks in the Commonwealth of Kentucky for moving your premier rivalry game to Thanksgiving. As for the schedule, that Louisville-Auburn game could recalibrate a lot of pre-season speculation very, very quickly.
      6. Virginia Tech (1, 1): Ohio State, Furman, @Purdue, @East Carolina. VPI-Ohio State was, in retrospect, the most baffling result of 2014. I… would not expect that again.
      7. Miami (1, 1): Bethune-Cookman, @Florida Atlantic, Nebraska, @Cincinnati. Miami-Nebraska: a match up of two teams that badly wish it were the 80’s or 90’s again.
      8. Syracuse (1, 1): Rhode Island, Central Michigan, Louisiana State, @South Florida. I suggest Syracuse fans take what they can get and treat the game in Tampa as a bowl game, because that’s about as good as it’s probably going to get for them this year.
      9. Florida State (1, 1): Texas State, South Florida, Tennessee-Chattanooga, @Florida. This is usually the point in the rundown when I start running out of things to say, and this schedule is no exception. It is, however, good for a rebuilding reloading Seminole squad.
      10. Wake Forest (1, 1): Elon, @Army, Indiana, @Notre Dame. Deacons versus Priests: the ultimate showdown! (… probably not)
      11. Boston College (1, 2): Maine, Howard, Northern Illinois, Notre Dame. Two FCS teams, good job, Boston College: you now face an uphill road to bowl eligibility!
      12. North Carolina (0.75, 2): N-South Carolina, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical, Illinois, Delaware. This is the first year in a while where I can’t recall reading a swarm of article proclaiming that this will be, in fact, Carolina’s year. Which probably means they’re going to go 9-3 or something. Of course, playing two FCS teams and Illinois helps with that.
      13. Duke (0.25, 1): @Tulane, North Carolina Central, Northwestern, @Army. Army somehow got both Wake Forest and Duke at home this year, good on them! That said, I know Duke is… Duke but still, guys, you’re a Power 5 team, you can’t have two road games both against non-Power 5 teams.
      14. North Carolina State (0, 1): Troy, Eastern Kentucky, @Old Dominion, @South Alabama. Yep, ODU is full FBS this year (along with Georgia Southern and Appalachian State, which I should’ve mentioned earlier). See what I said re: two road games in the above Duke blurb.

      Up next: the Big Ten.