Category Archives: OOC schedules

Rating the 2023 Non-Conference Slate

Buckle up, let’s go. For more about what this is, see the intro post.


  1. Pittsburgh (2 legit, 1 FCS): Wofford, Cincinnati, @West Virginia, @Notre Dame. This is a pretty solid schedule, and of course we adore the return of the Backyard Brawl. I also like that they got another Ohio River Valley team on the schedule in Cincy. Of course, there’s still a lot of questions about what to do regarding Notre Dame and the ACC, but for now it still counts.
  2. Florida State (2, 1): N-Louisiana State, Southern Mississippi, North Alabama, @Florida. Once again, the opening weekend helmet game is going to be FSU-LSU. And those helmets are likely going to be sweaty, because that game is going to be in Orlando in September.
  3. Louisville (1.75, 1): Murray State, N-Indiana, Notre Dame, Kentucky. Mostly up here for having three power-5 teams, even though we usually discount traditional rivals and. That said, while we don’t like the neutral site (it’s in Indianapolis) intersection matchups, while that still has any meaning, is something we like.
  4. Georgia Tech (1.75, 1): South Carolina State, @Mississippi, Bowling Green, Georgia. Obviously, I’ll talk more about us in the Week 1 preview next week, but I’m actually kind of excited about this season? I think at a minimum the Ole Miss game is going to be more competitive this year.
  5. Clemson (1.25, 1): Charleston Southern, Florida Atlantic, Notre Dame, @South Carolina. This is strictly just fine, and Clemson-Notre Dame should actually be a banger.
  6. Virginia (1, 1.5): N-Tennessee, James Madison, @Maryland, William & Mary. Virginia playing Maryland is going to do nothing to help me remember that Maryland is still technically not in the ACC anymore. Also, again, bleh to the neutral site (this one is in Nashville).
  7. Miami (1, 1): Miami, Texas A&M, Bethune-Cookman, @Temple. Miami is not playing themselves, no. (Though arguably part of the issue with the Canes the past several season is that they do tend to beat themselves.) Instead, no, we get Miami (a medium-sized liberal arts school in Ohio) versus Miami (a medium-sized liberal arts school in Florida) for only the fourth time in history. (Again, more on this next week.) TAMU heading down to Miami should also be, well, interesting. The Temple game in Philadelphia is odd: it appears to be a straight-home-and-away, where I would’ve normally expected it to be a 2-for-1.
  8. Wake Forest (1, 1): Elon, Vanderbilt, @Old Dominion, @Notre Dame. Wake keeps the part of the schedule they can control manageable.
  9. Duke (1, 1): Lafayette, Northwestern, @Connecticut, Notre Dame. As does Duke.
  10. North Carolina State (1, 1): @Connecticut, Notre Dame, VMI, Marshall. The Huskies don’t appear to be on the cusp of joining the ACC, but they’ve got a couple of games in North Carolina to start their season. While I like their chances against Duke, um, the Wolfpack not so much.
  11. North Carolina (0.5, 1): N-South Carolina, Appalachian State, Minnesota, Campbell. This schedule didn’t grade out very well, but I think it could be fun. I sorta feel like North Carolina and South Carolina should play every year. And of course App State gave Mack Brown and company a huge headache last year. The Gophers are here as well! This is fun as a neutral, but as a Carolina fan you may be wondering what your AD was thinking.
  12. Virginia Tech (0.25, 0): Old Dominion, Purdue, @Rutgers, @Marshall. Virginia Tech is in real danger of losing multiple of these games. It may be a long year in Blacksburg.
  13. Syracuse (0.25, 1): Colgate, Western Michigan, @Purdue, Army. There could be some points scored in that Cuse-Purdue game. Depending on how the season is going for these teams, that may be one to keep an eye on.
  14. Boston College (0, 1): Northern Illinois, Holy Cross, Army, Connecticut. Travel isn’t really a consideration for BC since they’re all home games here, but even then getting three regional opponents is definitely one way to do this.

Big Ten

  1. Ohio State (1 legit, 1 FCS): Youngstown State, Western Kentucky, @Notre Dame. Okay, Ohio State playing Notre Dame again is extremely legit, but overall I don’t feel like we’re starting that strong here in the B1G compared to some other conferences.
  2. Michigan State (1, 1): Central Michigan, Richmond, Washington. Naturally, most of the intrigue of a B1G vs. Pac-12 matchout outside of the Rose Bowl is gone since, well, this will be a conference game in the near future. Alas.
  3. Nebraska (0.5, 0): @Colorado, Northern Illinois, Louisiana Tech. While it doesn’t count for much on our scorecard, these days Nebraska playing any of their old Big 8 rivals feels right. They’ll play the Buffs again next season, but eschew their former conference-mates until they crank up the Oklahoma series again in 2029.
  4. Minnesota (0.5, 0): Eastern Michigan, @North Carolina, Louisiana. Apropos of nothing, UMN and Carolina have never played before! If there’s anything I like more than traditional rivalries, it’s at least thinking outside the box.
  5. Purdue (0.25, 0): Fresno State, @Virginia Tech, Syracuse. While the Boilermakers will take a trip out to Blacksburg, they should consider playing their true ACC engineering rivals down in Atlanta. Or inviting them to join the conference. Just saying.
  6. Iowa (0.25, 0): Utah State, @Iowa State, Western Michigan. Iowa has had basically no good news this offseason. For starters, their nepo-tastic offensive coordinator, Brian Ferentz, has a contract that the entire college football universe will be watching closely: whether Iowa, as a team, can score 25 points per game. Note: we’re not talking about offensive points, we’re talking the whole team. Will Brian’s job as OC be saved by Iowa’s usually competent special teams and usually very good scoring defense? (Reminder: the term “Iowa touchdown” was coined last season when the Hawkeyes beat South Dakota State 7-3 with two safeties and a field goal.) Then there’s the latest craze that has recently taken over the only state in  the Union with exactly 99 counties: gambling on amateur athletics. By said amateur athletes. Now, while normally I would say this is a case of NCAA overreach (which, well, we don’t get to say a lot these days) the issue is that more than a few of the players involved where gambling on their own sport (bad) and on games they were involved (real bad!). Iowa has 11 players being investigated currently. There’s more to come on that story for sure.
  7. Maryland (0.25, 1): Towson, Charlotte, Virginia. Maryland playing Virginia is going to do nothing to help me remember that Maryland is still technically not in the ACC anymore.
  8. Pennsylvania State (0.25, 1): West Virginia, Delaware, Massachusetts. The Big Ten East will presumably not exist after this season (they’re going to have to integrate the new Big Ten Actually West somehow, hence the “presumably”), and while I like them playing WVU, this is really to set up Penn State taking one last shot at not finishing third in the East.
  9. Rutgers (0.25, 1): Temple, Virginia Tech, Wagner. Speaking of teams that I keep forgetting are in the Big Ten, Rutgers may actually be somewhat competent this year. This normally would lead me to say something like “so keep an eye on events in Piscataway” but let’s face it, by the time November rolls around and they’re losing by 30+ to Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State again you’ll be able to safely forget them.
  10. Wisconsin (0, 0): Buffalo, @Washington State, Georgia Southern. Y’all. This, once again, should be a legendary drinking matchup on the Palouse.
  11. Illinois (0, 0): Toledo, @Kansas, Florida Atlantic. Okay, I may have said something earlier about odd matchups, but Illinois-Kansas stretches credulity for me.
  12. Indiana (0, 1): Indiana State, N-Louisville, Akron. Just going ahead and getting the “wrong sport!” joke out of the way for Indiana-Louisville, because, um, also it’s been a minute since even the basketball angle of that matchup would’ve made sense?
  13. Northwestern (0, 1): Texas-El Paso, @Duke, Howard. I don’t really have an opinions left about these schedules. Well, okay, one more:
  14. Michigan (0, 0): East Carolina, Nevada-Las Vegas, Bowling Green. So even though none of these teams are technically FCS, I still ranked Michigan last because come on. And of course it just works out so for Harbaugh’s self-imposed three game suspension it doesn’t even involve any conference games. (Also, the only reason Michigan is sort of even “getting away” with the Harbaugh thing in the first place is because, well, the investigation is really dumb.)

Big 12

  1. West Virginia (1.25, 1): @Pennsylvania State, Duquesne, Pittsburgh. West Virginia doubles-down on their northerly neighbor rivalries this season. But that said, Penn State doesn’t produce quite the same feeling. Also, there’s a fair chance the Nittany Lions will beat the pants off of the ‘Neers.
  2. Texas (1, 0): Rice, @Alabama, Wyoming. Somehow, it was all the way back in 2010 when I first referenced JFK’s most famous speech, where one of the concepts compared to doing things “not because they are easy, but because they are hard” was “why does Rice play Texas?” That was before Texas A&M and Mizzou left the conference! That was before I knew that the “A&M” in “Texas A&M” doesn’t actually stand for anything! Maybe more importantly, this somehow serves to drive home the point of how long I’ve been writing this series. Oh, and also, speaking of things robbed of some joy by pending conference realignment, Texas and Alabama play again this year, and if it’s anything like last year, well, we’ll still think about how rad of a one-off that game is before we realize that it’ll stop being special soon.
  3. Texas Tech (1, 1): @Wyoming, Oregon, Tarleton State. This doesn’t seem like the kind of schedule if you want to hit the ground running at Texas Tech, especially that trip up to Laramie.
  4. Baylor (1, 1): Texas State, Utah, Long Island. We’re going to get to Utah in a moment. The rest of this schedule is going to be 2 wins for the Bears, but, yeah, Utah coming to Waco is going to be thing. Again, more in a moment.
  5. Iowa State (0.75, 1): Northern Iowa, Iowa, @Ohio. Iowa State plays UNI a lot, and as far as I know, UNI is not included in the wide-ranging investigation into Iowa public university athletes being investigated for gambling. Iowa State has now had multiple players dismissed, if that helps give you an idea. Also, as far as I can tell Iowa State-Ohio is a home-and-home, which seems odd. I need to see if there’s a way if I can figure if that’s becoming more common or if there were some non-con games in 2020 that were canceled.
  6. Texas Christian (0.5, 1): Colorado, Nicholls State, Southern Methodist. TCU and SMU don’t want to play for the Iron Skillet anymore, which makes me sad.
  7. Brigham Young (0.25, 1.5): Sam Houston State, Southern Utah, Arkansas. Wow, we got all the way down here before we got to the first of the Big 12’s new arrivals? Well, howdy. The Stormin’ Mormons start off pretty easy with a team moving up from FCS, and then a team still solidly in FCS. There could definitely be some beef on both sides in that Arkansas game too, so I wouldn’t discount them.
  8. Central Florida (0.25, 1): Kent State, @Boise State, Villanova. I’m sure Boise won’t be bitter at all that UCF got called up before they did. Not at all.
  9. Cincinnati (0.25, 1): Eastern Kentucky, @Pittsburgh, Miami. Again, we endorse Pitt playing other Ohio River Valley schools. Feels correct. In fact, you almost sort of wonder if Pitt, Cincy, WVU, and, I dunno, Syracuse and UConn could be in a conference? It’d make a certain amount of sense, and the basketball would be good too. Alas, that’s probably just too pure for this world.
  10. Oklahoma (0, 0): Arkansas State, Southern Methodist, @Tulsa. A perfectly cromulent schedule for Brent Venable’s second season in charge of the Sooners. The question is if the defense is still going to be fixed in the three games after these ones.
  11. Kansas (0, 1): Missouri State, Illinois, @Nevada. So KU goes to Reno this year and the Wolf Pack return in… 2029? I, or more correctly,, must be missing something.
  12. Oklahoma State (0, 1): Central Arkansas, @Arizona State, South Alabama. As usual, another team will consider Arizona State, and again, I’ll wonder how many players want to pull a “Cuban national team visits the US and half the team defects” and stay in Tempe after the game.
  13. Kansas State (0, 1): Southeast Missouri State, Troy, @Missouri. The wrong Kansas is playing Mizzou.
  14. Houston (0, 0.5): Texas-San Antonio, @Rice, Sam Houston State. I had to rate this schedule lower than Oklahoma State and K-State because none of these are Power 5 teams, but if UTSA is still has any magic left this could be fun. Also, I think it’s kind of funny Houston will go across town to play in the Rice Bowl Stadium.


  1. Utah (1.5, 1): Florida, @Baylor, Weber State. Okay, I personally think we underrate Baylor a little bit, because for a schedule that doesn’t involve any traditional rivals this is crazy pants. There just has to be story out there how this happened… was one of the games put off because of 2020 and this was the only year that worked? Either way, Florida and Baylor’s likely pain (because the Utes love to bring it on defense) is going to be our gain. If they go undefeated against this schedule, we have to be looking out for national title contender Utah, right?
  2. Colorado (1, 0): @Texas Christian, Nebraska, Colorado State. Plausible Texas trip and two traditional rivals, you love to see it. Though I suspect it’s going to be a quick introduction to Deion that things are a tad different up at FBS and in Boulder.
  3. Washington (1, 0): Boise State, Tulsa, @Michigan State. In a game some (not just me (really)) are already dubbing “The Chris Peterson Classic”, I expect to see plenty of Broncos blue when I’m in Seattle next weekend. I otherwise already covered my feelings about that trip to East Lansing.
  4. Southern California (1, 0): San Jose State, Nevada, @Notre Dame. By USC standards, this isn’t that ambitious of a schedule, since Notre Dame is a yearly game.
  5. California (1, 1): @North Texas, Auburn, Idaho. I really need to start looking into tickets for that Cal-Auburn game. Oh and also, that Cal-UNT is a home-and-home, though the first game was in 2019, so there definitely could’ve been scheduling issues.
  6. Washington State (1, 1): @Colorado State, Wisconsin, Northern Colorado. Another one! I’m going to stop commenting on the P5-G5 straight-up home-and-homes now. Again, I will adore the idea of the Badgers on the Palouse on a September night, and I hope to the game lives up to that.
  7. Stanford (1, 1): @Hawaii, Sacramento State, Notre Dame. Stanford goes to Hawaii and doesn’t take advantage of being able to schedule an extra game. I know that doesn’t happen a lot these days, but still.
  8. Arizona State (0.75, 1): Southern Utah, Oklahoma State, Fresno State. Arizona State is not projected to be good this year, and this schedule isn’t going to help dispel that notion.
  9. Arizona (0, 1): Northern Arizona, @Mississippi State, Texas-El Paso. I have no idea how that trip to Miss State will pan out for Arizona, but regardless between that and heading to UTEP this is fine even if it’s not rated super highly.
  10. Oregon (0, 1): Portland State, @Texas Tech, Hawaii. Meanwhile, I wonder what the heck Oregon is thinking. The Ducks usually do pretty well in these ratings, so this is… well, it’s not very exciting.
  11. California-Los Angeles (0, 1): Coastal Carolina, @San Diego State, North Carolina Central. While Coastal and SDSU don’t rate in our ratings, that doesn’t mean they aren’t dangerous. UCLA might be playing with fire here, especially against the Aztecs.
  12. Oregon State (0, 1): @San Jose State, California-Davis, San Diego State. On the one hand, “undefeated Oregon State in the last year of the Pac-12 as we know it” is something that I think a lot of us in college football are rooting for; on the other, playing the Aztecs and a very game UC-Davis squad from FCS doesn’t strike us helping the cause. Well, you know, unless it does.


  1. Florida (2, 1): @Utah, McNeese State, Charlotte, Florida State. What up Gators?!? Not only are you actually venturing west of the Mississippi River for once (excepting those trips to Baton Rouge) you’re going all the way to Salt Lake to play a team that very, very much wants to hit you in the sternum repeatedly. Um, good luck with that!
  2. South Carolina (1.5, 1.5): N-North Carolina, Furman, Jacksonville State, Clemson. Again, that is the Jacksonville that’s in Alabama.
  3. Alabama (1, 1): Middle Tennessee State, Texas, @South Florida, Tennessee-Chattanooga. We already extolled the virtues of Bama-Texas, so, um, well… at least the Blue Raiders and Mocs have pretty straightforward drives to Tuscaloosa?
  4. Texas A&M (1, 1): New Mexico, @Miami, Louisiana-Monroe, Abilene Christian. The trip to south Florida should be fun for the Aggies, and the heat and humidity shouldn’t be a surprise. Nonetheless, the main thing for them through these first three games is any sign that there’s improvement on the offense.
  5. Louisiana State (1, 1): N-Florida State, Grambling State, Army, Georgia State. Let’s see, we already talked about the sweat aspect of FSU-LSU, so for this one let’s see if the main thing that really throws LSU’s 2023 campaign off kilter isn’t an SEC opponent, but Army.
  6. Mississippi (0.5, 1): Mercer, @Tulane, Georgia Tech, Louisiana-Monroe. Ole Miss throws in a couple of former SEC rivals, well, actually one because we never played Ole Miss a lot. But at any rate, Ole Miss-Tulane was a thing back in the day, and I think it’s cool they’ll make the trip down to New Orleans. As for Lane and Co, they’ll be fine this year, but it remains to be seen if it’ll be fine enough to finally get Lane that actual big time job he wants.
  7. Missouri (0.5, 1): South Dakota, Middle Tennessee State, Kansas State, Memphis. Mizzou almost put together a schedule featuring teams entirely from bordering states, and yet, they still picked the wrong Kansas team. The mind boggles.
  8. Tennessee (0.25, 1): N-Virginia, Austin Peay, Texas-San Antonio, Connecticut. I’m just going to warn you know: I’m going be talking about Tennessee quarterback Joe Milton’s arm a lot this year. It is really the Arm of Destiny in college football this year, and it’s perhaps the only thing that can stop both Bama and Georgia. No pressure.
  9. Vanderbilt (0.25, 1): Hawaii, Alabama A&M, @Wake Forest, @Nevada-Las Vegas. Scheduling two out-of-conference road games as a SEC team seems kind of hard, especially considering that one of them is UNLV. That said, the previous matchup against UNLV was 2018, so I’m willing to admit it was probably a 2020 thing. I knew I said I wasn’t going to revisit this, but it’s the only explanation.
  10. Georgia (0.25, 1): Tennessee-Martin, Ball State, Alabama-Birmingham, @Georgia Tech. This is not exactly an ambitious schedule for a national title contender.
  11. Auburn (0, 1): Massachusetts, @California, Samford, New Mexico State. Neither is this, though granted Auburn isn’t trying to win a national title this year. Well, at least according to any reasonable fan.
  12. Mississippi State (0, 1): Southeastern Louisiana, Arizona, Western Michigan, Southern Mississippi. While we’re talking about the bottom of the barrel for the SEC, at least getting a Pac-12 team to head to Starkville is neat.
  13. Arkansas (0, 1): Western Carolina, Kent State, Brigham Young, Florida International. I don’t know that having BYU come to Fayetteville is necessarily a good idea, but y’all do you, Arkansas.
  14. Kentucky (0, 1): Ball State, Eastern Kentucky, Akron, @Louisville. And finally, the main drama in Kentucky’s schedule is mostly whether or not Jeff Brohm has the Cardinals looking like a competent outfit by the time Thanksgiving rolls around.

And now we’re just going to go ahead and wrap this thing up, because up next is going to be the Week 0 preview!

The usual admonishment for playing more than 1 FCS team doesn’t apply this year. While several are marked as “1.5” above, I use that to indicate that one of teams is moving up from FCS and so they may not count for bowl eligibility and the like.

Next up, teams that play more than one Power Five team, excluding Notre Dame and ACC teams as well as traditional rivalries:

  • Pittsburgh (Cincinnati, @West Virginia)
  • Virginia (@Tennessee, Maryland)
  • North Carolina (South Carolina, Minnesota)
  • Virginia Tech (Purdue, Rutgers)
  • Utah (Florida, @Baylor)
  • Colorado (@Texas Christian, Nebraska)
  • West Virginia (@Pennsylvania State, Pittsburgh)
  • Purdue (@Virginia Tech, Syracuse)

Thanks to all of the above for doing something interesting!

And finally, each conference’s average rating for their OOC schedules:

  1. ACC (0.263)
  2. Pac-12 (0.23)
  3. Big 12 (0.149)
  4. SEC (0.147)
  5. Big Ten (0.101)

The Pac-12 maintains a solid rating, but the ACC really stepped it up this season.

This likely does it for the concept of the “Power Five”, and for the last decade or so of college football it’s been a useful framework, even if the sport wasn’t, and isn’t, that easily split into two categories. There’s a lot of change in front of us in the college football world, and I still fear that it won’t quite be the same after this season.

That said, I still think of that as cause to go out and enjoy this season. I plan to see at least one game in person. Up next, we’ll preview Week 0, and then talk about a pretty packed Labor Day weekend slate. See you then!

Rating the 2023 Non-Conference Slate: Intro

Welcome back.

We’re here once again for what will possibly the final season of college football as we know it. Perhaps the best way to explain why is to just show all the conference moves for this year and next.

Big 12

This season, Cincinnati, Central Florida, and Houston move from the American to the Big 12. BYU also joins the party after a stint as an independent.

Next season? Hold on to your 5-gallon hats. Texas and Oklahoma are off to the SEC, but a convoy arrives from the west. Colorado rejoins several of their former Big 8/12 conference-mates, along with fellow Pac-12 refugees Utah, Arizona, and Arizona State.

Big Ten

No moves this year. Next season will see UCLA and USC, and to just further put the “west” in “midwest” Oregon and Washington also join.


So, for those of you scoring at home, that leaves just four schools in the Pac-12 for the 2024 season: Oregon State, Washington State, Cal, and Stanford. At press time, nothing has happened in terms of the Pac-12 either trying to survive or just these four desperately trying to find a lifeboat elsewhere.


As previously mentioned, the Southeastern conference is still staying relatively, well, Southeastern and just adding Texas and Oklahoma. But something is probably going to happen.

But wait, there’s more

Moving around isn’t just a power-conference thing. First, the American had to bring in some teams to replace the schools they lost, and they did so by raiding Conference USA. Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice, UAB, and UTSA all moved for this season. Conference USA responded by adding two independents (Liberty, which heretofore was thought to be too weird to get into a conference, and New Mexico State, which was thought to be remote and poor) and calling two schools up from the FCS level: Jacksonville State (note: located in Alabama) and Sam Houston State. Plus, they’ll add the favorite team of the Atlanta exurbs, Kennesaw State, in 2024. These latter three are subject to FCS-to-FBS transition rules. Note that James Madison over in the Sun Belt is also still affected by said rule this season.

All these changes mean that the only remaining FBS independents are Army, Notre Dame, UConn, and UMass.


The ACC has a media rights deal that lasts until 2036, which means that despite Florida State’s very loud complaints, making the ACC somehow the most stable conference. Well, at least until they poach Stanford or something.

About the Ratings

So now back to the meat of this post. Each offseason, my brother and I rate every Power 5 team on the basis of how excited you’d be to see that team on your non-conference schedule. The possible ratings are “no rating”, 0, 0.25, 0.5, 0.75, and 1. “1” is the best, as evidenced by the list of 22 teams that earned a 1 this year: Alabama, Auburn, UCLA, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, LSU, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oklahoma, Oregon, Penn State, Tennessee, Texas, Texas A&M, Utah, Washington, and Wisconsin. The new team for this season is Tennessee, which, well, we really missed that one last year as we had them as a 0.25. Suffice it to say after their season last year, we have fixed this, and they’re back as a 1 for the first time since 2011. Good on you, Vols.

Also, the Big 12 pipped 3 of the Group of 5 teams we rated last year, so now the only ones that earned a rating at all were Tulane (0.25) and Boise State (0.25). This is the first time the Green Wave have ever earned a rating (it tends to help when you, say, beat USC in the Sugar Bowl).

How does each conference fare in terms of the ratings? Well, let’s see:

  1. Southeastern (0.625)
  2. Pacific-12 (0.5)
  3. Big 12 (0.482)
  4. Big Ten (0.464)
  5. Atlantic Coast (0.375)

Okay, so hopefully that whets your appetite to look at these non-conference schedules. We’ll dive right into with the next post. Onward!

Rating the 2022 Non-Conference Slate: Epilogue

And now, our traditional wrap.

First off, no one plays more than one FCS team this year. Huzzah!

Next up, teams that play more than one Power Five team, excluding Notre Dame and ACC teams as well as traditional rivalries:

  • Pittsburgh (West Virginia, Tennessee)
  • Duke (Northwestern, Kansas) (technically counts!)
  • Colorado (Texas Christian, Minnesota)
  • West Virginia (Pittsburgh, Virginia Tech)

And finally, each conference’s average rating for their collective out-of-conference schedules:

  1. Pac-12 (0.243)
  2. SEC (0.174)
  3. Big 12 (0.15)
  4. ACC (0.141)
  5. Big Ten (0.137)

Oh, how the mighty are fallen! Last season, the Big Ten was up front, thanks to those exciting early season games like Ohio State-Oregon and, um, Michigan-Washington. This year, the Pac-12 gets perhaps one last hurrah thanks to games like Oregon-Georgia, Utah-Florida, and Washington State-Wisconsin.

That’s a wrap for my take on the season preview. But I’ve got one more thing in store before we discuss what’s going to be on TV on Saturday.

Rating the 2022 Non-Conference Slate

As promised, the ACC will be first, followed by the other Power 5 conferences. Each team is (usually) ranked by the average appeal of their schedule. There’s often ties, so there some subjectivity involved in the actual ranking in the end. (I tend to more highly rate interesting, if not necessarily rated, Power 5 or Group of Five opponents, and not playing any FCS teams tends to be worth some bonus points.)

Here’s the key to reading this. Each team will be listed with their in-conference rank in the following format:

  1. Team Name (“Legit” points, number of FCS teams): List of teams, with FCS teams in italics. Then, my desperate attempt to regurgitate what I’ve heard about the team from my college football podcasts and/or a vibe check.

Make sense? No? Well, tough. Let’s go, it’s almost Week 0!


  1. Georgia Tech (2.25, 1): Western Carolina, Mississippi, @Central Florida, @Georgia. Okay, so we’ve rightly been ridden pretty hard in the offseason for how hard this schedule is. Part of it is simply that we didn’t plan to be as terrible and incompetent as we currently are. If we were coming fresh off, say, the 2014 season (which is like when the Ole Miss and UCF games were scheduled, I think) then this looks like a pretty good schedule for the 2nd or 3rd best team in the ACC, right? Maybe it seems obvious it’d turn out this way, but I assure you it wasn’t at the time. And I’m tired of hearing about it. And, perhaps, this actually will get Geoff fired, which I think everyone agrees at this point would be a good thing, so.
  2. Florida State (2, 1): Duquesne, N-Louisiana State, Louisiana, Florida. A lot of folks seem to be waiting to see if the ‘Noles are going to be good again, to which I’d say, well, I’m not sure about this year, and it’s not a certainty. They sort of have to get good again, though? And, woof, that LSU game looks to be setting up for some fans on either side to get way too confident about the way things are going under their new coaches.
  3. Syracuse (1.25, 1): @Connecitcut, Purdue, Wagner, Notre Dame. This is where I have to start making calls about how much to count Notre Dame in terms of the Notre Dame-ACC scheduling agreement. Here, though, the Orange have a B1G team on the schedule, so they still grade out ahead of Miami.
  4. Miami (1, 1): Bethune-Cookman, Southern Mississippi, @Texas A&M, Middle Tennessee State. Canes-Aggies might be a sneaky good time… at least for the Canes?
  5. Pittsburgh (0.5, 1): West Virginia, Tennessee, @Western Michigan, Rhode Island. Despite the score, and even though I sort of already “cheated”, I wanted to rank this schedule higher, because THE BACKYARD BRAWL IS BACK, Y’ALL! And Pitt-Tennessee should be good too! And Pitt might still be good! We’ll see! Exclamation points!
  6. Clemson (1, 1): Furman, Louisiana Tech, @Notre Dame, South Carolina. So, yeah, here’s that Notre Dame-ACC thing again, and also a reminder in what otherwise a fantastic year for the Gamecocks and a down year for Clemson, the Tigers still beat them 30-0.
  7. North Carolina (1, 1): Florida A&M, @Appalachian State, @Georgia State, Notre Dame. I know it’s fun to rhetorically ask “why is [Power 5 team] traveling to [Group of Five team]?” but my main thing is that the rhetorical answer is obvious: because this is a 2-for-1 or 3-for-1 deal, which is more or less what it takes to get any FBS team to schedule you these days. That said, I am a tad baffled at how the Heels managed to have to travel to both Boone and Atlanta.
  8. Boston College (1, 1): Rutgers, Maine, @Connecticut, @Notre Dame. BC is keeping it very North East plus a traditional slash ACC game against Notre Dame, I can dig it.
  9. Louisville (0.75, 0.5): @Central Florida, South Florida, James Madison, @Kentucky. Maybe I should’ve put UCF in the ACC in this thing? Sheesh.
  10. Virginia Tech (0.25, 1): @Old Dominion, Wofford, West Virginia, @Liberty. So I don’t think VPI-West Virginia is a super big rivalry or anything, but I think there is a general consensus out there that they should play more often, and I agree.
  11. Virginia (0, 1): Richmond, @Illinois, Old Dominion, Coastal Carolina. My main reaction to this schedule doesn’t really have anything to do with technically having a Big Ten team on there so much as “oh my, they could lose that Coastal game”.
  12. Duke (0, 1): Temple, @Northwestern, North Carolina A&T, @Kansas. If you want any sort of preview of the 2022 Duke Blue Devils football season, it’s this: they could well go 1-3 or 0-4 in these games. I’m serious.
  13. Wake Forest (0, 1): Virginia Military, @Vanderbilt, Liberty, Army. Meanwhile, Wake should go 4-0 here. Well, at least, please, just… don’t lose to Liberty. Just trust me on this.
  14. North Carolina State (0, 1): @East Carolina, Charleston Southern, Texas Tech, Connecticut. Seeing as how NCSU should go 4-0 on this schedule, it’s going to be really spicy to see how they go 4-4 or 5-3 in conference this season.

Big Ten

  1. Nebraska (1, 1): North Dakota, Georgia Southern, Oklahoma. So why does Nebraska rank ahead of Ohio State when I said above I give precedence to teams that don’t play any FCS teams? Well, for starters UND could probably beat a lot of Group of Five teams. Second, I just mostly want to recognize that Nebraska is playing Oklahoma again and I think that’s the sort of thing I want to encourage here. (And, even better, it was scheduled as a home-and-home, instead of being played in, say, Jerryworld and Kansas City.) Third, well, it’s Scott Frost Day.
  2. Ohio State (1, 0): Notre Dame, Arkansas State, Toledo. I really did wrestle whether to put Ohio State-ND or Penn State-Auburn higher, though. In the end, I feel like Ohio State-Notre Dame is likely to be a playoff eliminator, and plus the Buckeyes aren’t really one of Notre Dame’s traditional midwestern rivals, so this is fun to see.
  3. Pennsylvania State (1, 0): Ohio, @Auburn, Central Michigan. Just so y’all know, there’s a lot of hype out there in my corner of the college football internet that when the Nittany Lions’ trip to the Plains is gonna get Harsin fired.
  4. Michigan State (1, 0): Western Michigan, Akron, @Washington. Last year was a magical season for Sparty and especially Mel Tucker, but there were some eyebrow raising losses (Purdue and the 56-7 Ohio State incident) that to me indicate that pumping the brakes may be wise for this season.
  5. Indiana (0.75, 1): Idaho, Western Kentucky, @Cincinnati. It doesn’t look like it’s going to be easy in any way for the Hoosiers this season, and that’s really before you factor in the trip to Nippert.
  6. Wisconsin (0, 1): Illinois State, Washington State, New Mexico State. Not that it would affect them anyway, but yeah, this non-con slate isn’t going to do anything to hurt Wisconsin’s confidence in what looks like a path back to Indianapolis.
  7. Illinois (0.5, 1): Wyoming, Virginia, Tennessee-Chattanooga. It’s Burt time over in Urbana-Champaign, where there’s probably some real questions if they’re going to get more than 1 win out of this slate.
  8. Iowa (0.25, 1): South Dakota State, Iowa State, Nevada. It would be so funny if Iowa lost to South Dakota State, y’all. They won’t, but it’s totally plausible! It could well be something to watch next weekend!
  9. Minnesota (0.25, 1): New Mexico State, Western Illinois, Colorado. Has the shine worn off for PJ Fleck in Minnesota yet? Well, I’m not sure, but this schedule won’t do anything to hurt him, I’d say.
  10. Purdue (0, 1): Indiana State, @Syracuse, Florida Atlantic. I haven’t heard a lot about Purdue this offseason. Is that on purpose to ensure they remain a bit of a mystery so when they appear once again in October as everyone’s favorite Chaos Team™ we can all act surprised?
  11. Rutgers (0, 1): @Boston College, Wagner, @Temple. I’m not sure if I’m ready for Competent Rutgers, and certainly two road non-conference games doesn’t usually inspire confidence. But that seems to sort of be the consensus? Stay tuned for updates on this throughout the season.
  12. Maryland (0, 0): Buffalo, @Charlotte, Southern Methodist. See what I wrote about North Carolina above, but still, why are you going to Charlotte? Either way, I guess we’ll find out soon if the Terps running it back with Mike Locksley is going to have any sizzle or not.
  13. Michigan (0, 0): Colorado State, Hawaii, Connecticut. Speaking of three guaranteed wins, sheesh, this sure is a schedule that technically doesn’t have any FCS teams on it.
  14. Northwestern (0, 1): Duke, Southern Illinois, Miami (OH). This looks like a great chance for Northwestern to get 3 wins, ’cause Lord knows they’ll need ’em.

Big 12

  1. Texas (1, 0): Louisiana-Monroe, Alabama, Texas-San Antonio. Texas-Bama. The soon-to-be conference-mates will play a neutral in a relatively novel location of these two heavyweights: Tuscaloosa, AL. That said, the ‘Horns would be wise to not lose to the Roadrunners. (Meep meep)
  2. Texas Tech (1, 1): Murray State, Houston, @North Carolina State. I know I started with that rant about people making fun of GT’s schedule at the very top, so this may seem a tad hypocritical but… seriously, playing a spicy in-state rival and travelling to Raleigh? Oof.
  3. West Virginia (0.75, 1): @Pittsburgh, Towson, Virginia Tech. WVU plays two ACC teams, whom, as I mentioned above, should arguably play every year. It’s like the three of them should be in the same conference or something.
  4. Oklahoma (0.75, 0): Texas-El Paso, Kent State, @Nebraska. Brent Venables is the head man at Oklahoma now, in case you’ve been under a rock all offseason. Or are a normal human who does other things than spending every fall Saturday watching college football for 12 hours. You know… like me.
  5. Iowa State (0.75, 1): Southeast Missouri State, @Iowa, Ohio. Hey Cyclones, y’all gonna wake up this year? Given their history, it’s hard to imagine that there’s really “letdown” years for Iowa State, but… 2021 kind of was one? Especially for a team that’s got the coach and opportunity to reset the pecking order in the post-Red River Big 12 in a couple of years, 2022 will need to be a bounce back.
  6. Kansas (0.5, 1): Tennessee Tech, @Houston, Duke. Kansas is probably going to lose to Houston, but unlike in past years, I feel pretty good about saying they’re going to win the other two games on this schedule.
  7. Texas Christian (0.25, 1): @Colorado, Tarleton State, @Southern Methodist. TCU will have ae new head coach for the first time in a very long time, and this may not be the schedule that you’d particular want to start off with. That said, going 3-0 here will go a long way toward moving on from the old guy pretty quickly.
  8. Oklahoma State (0, 1): Central Michigan, Arizona State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff. I was going to make a joke along the lines of Gundy losing to Arizona State and demanding a recount, but I decided not to. Because it’s not a joke.
  9. Baylor (0, 1): Albany, @Brigham Young, Texas State. When my brother and I do the “legit” rankings mentioned in the intro post, we usually have a couple teams that we debate changing the rating. The stickiest wicket this year was the Baylor Bears. I pointed out that they could well be the best team in the Big 12 this year and deserved to be bumped up, to which he had the completely legitimate defense “yeah, but they’re Baylor“. In the end, though, it didn’t really matter because, well, they don’t play any other Power 5 teams anyway.
  10. Kansas State (0, 1): South Dakota, Missouri, Tulane. The wrong Kansas team is playing Mizzou, and, uh, this could actually be kind of a tricky schedule?


  1. Oregon (1, 1): N-Georgia, Eastern Washington, Brigham Young. One of the most exciting matchups of the whole season is going to be Oregon-Georgia in Week 1. I’ll talk about the potential national implications below. Here, I wanted to focus on the Ducks, as it feels like the expectations for their season range wildly from “beat Georgia” to “lose to EWU”. It’ll be plenty interesting to see how they navigate this.
  2. Utah (1, 1): @Florida, Southern Utah, San Diego State. Five years ago, we’d have called Utah-Georgia the Urban Meyer Classic, but, uh, probably not so much anymore. Anyway! The Utes have a pretty brutal non-con here, but they could well be favored in all of these games.
  3. Washington State (1, 1): Idaho, @Wisconsin, Colorado State. Wazzu will take an early fall road trip to Madison. I suspect there will a new found appreciation of cheese curds in eastern Washington. These are the kind of non-cons you love to see.
  4. Arizona State (1, 1): Northern Arizona, @Oklahoma State, Eastern Michigan. Let’s see, I already made the the Mike Gundy joke up above, but fortunately there’s plenty (not) to love about Herm’s tenure in Tempe. Which is to say, he could well have turned himself from “guy who knows the NFL, consider Arizona State!” to a coaching pariah. The reason? ASU is embroiled in an ongoing NCAA investigation (remember those?) where Herm has basically saved his own neck by throwing his (ex-)staffers under the bus. Yeah, that’s a good way to completely ruin your reputation. And why Herm is an early candidate to not be a head coach by season’s end.
  5. Southern California (1, 0): Rice, Fresno State, Notre Dame. So is USC going to keep playing other California schools in the non-con when the move to the Big Ten, or are they just going to go full Midwest and start scheduling exclusively MAC teams?
  6. California (1, 1): California-Davis, Nevada-Las Vegas, @Notre Dame. I’m not sure any school has more violently swung from one strength on a particular side of the ball to the other so much as the Bears. Years ago, they were a whole-hog offensive juggernaut with a defense made of tissue paper, now it’s the oppose. Which may be a problem when the Aggies roll down from Davis across as the Carquinez Strait and then on into Berkeley.
  7. Stanford (1, 1): Colgate, @Notre Dame, Brigham Young. “NIL? Conference dissolving around us? What? We can’t hear you over the sound of our continued efforts to cut Olympic sports to save money even though we have more money than God.”
  8. Colorado (0.5, 0): Texas Christian, @Air Force, @Minnesota. I think this is going to be a pretty tough schedule for the Buffs.
  9. Oregon State (0.5, 1): Boise State, @Fresno State, Montana State. Okay, once again, I’ll reference the top of my post above, except… Beavs what are you doing?!? It’s been a few minutes since y’all were good (unlike us, at least) and you’re playing two of the most successful Group of Five teams (ever!) and, oh yeah, FCS runners-up in 2018, 2019, and 2021 Montana State! I swear, y’all could lose all of these games!
  10. Washington (0.75, 1): Kent State, Portland State, Michigan State. Long time readers of this site (which, let’s be honest, might be just my parents, best case) know that I tend to be in Seattle every Labor Day weekend and part of the fun is sometimes whoever UDub (and, sometimes, Wazzu) play that weekend. Alas, it won’t be Sparty coming to town this time.
  11. Arizona (0, 1): @San Diego State, Mississippi State, North Dakota State. Okay, see above everything I wrote above Oregon State, except sub one of the G5 teams with an SEC team and the “FCS runners-up” part with “FCS Champions”. WHAT ARE YOU DOING?!?
  12. California-Los Angeles (0, 1): Bowling Green State, Alabama State, South Alabama. See Oregon State and Arizona? This is how you do it. This is three wins for ol’ Chip, and unless things really go south down in Westwood, he isn’t going anywhere. Well, other than future road trips to lovely towns like Piscataway and East Lansing in November.


  1. Georgia (1.25, 1): N-Oregon, Samford, Kent State, Georgia Tech. One of the most exciting matchups of the whole season is going to be Oregon-Georgia in Week 1. The question is, will this one be as consequential as Georgia’s 10-3 win over Clemson? You know, the one where if Clemson had anything resembling their functional, end-of-season offense, could’ve easily gone the other way? Let’s also add in that, yes, while they are reloading and not rebuilding, they are more-or-less replacing their entire starting defense. I mean, look, my biases are plain: I want the Ducks to win, and while I suspect the odds are long and the score’s gonna be like 30-7 or something, I think there’s a chance.
  2. Florida (1.75, 1): Utah, South Florida, Eastern Washington, @Florida State. UGA got ranked ahead of the Gators mostly just because, well, Florida has to play FSU every year, so I deducted credit for that. Nonetheless, the Utes will find their way to Gainesville, and presumably show why Billy Napier has been trying to tamp down expectations for the Gators since the moment he was hired.
  3. Auburn (1, 1): Mercer, San Jose State, Pennsylvania State, Western Kentucky. If you hang out where I do on the Internet, Brian Harsin is basically already fired and the Week 3 game against the Nittany Lions is just a formality. Which, look, let’s be clear, it could be at any other point before the Iron Bowl… a bad loss at home to LSU, getting pants by Kiffin in Oxford a couple weeks later… there’s plenty of chances outside the non-con!
  4. Alabama (1, 1): Utah State, @Texas, Louisiana-Monroe, Austin Peay. If we were just going solely by the helmets, Bama-Texas would be number 1, but this is mostly a reflect of how things have gone for Texas as of late than anything else. Plus, I guess it’s sort of expected that Bama play a team like Texas? I at least find Georgia-Oregon or Florida-Utah more exciting.
  5. Louisiana State (1, 1): N-Florida State, Southern, New Mexico, Alabama-Birmingham. LSU-FSU is definitely a Week 1 neutral site game we’re going to make WAY too many inferences about for a pair of relatively new regimes.
  6. Texas A&M (1, 1): Sam Houston State, Appalachian State, Miami, Massachusetts. Okay, look, A&M’s gonna win all of these games and then mysteriously lose like 3 in the SEC, but oh the mind wonders at how spectacular it’d be if they get pipped by the Canes, or… dare I say… App State?
  7. South Carolina (1, 1): Georgia State, Charlotte, South Carolina State, @Clemson. Yeah, this is setting up pretty good for the Gamecocks to get a full of themselves and then get pasted by Clemson… again.
  8. Arkansas (0.75, 1): Cincinnati, Missouri State, @Brigham Young, Liberty. The Wompin’ was pretty fun last year, but year 2 is here and it gets real, fast, with a visit from Cincy (who are admittedly missing their best players from last year’s run) and then a mid-season visit to Provo.
  9. Mississippi (0.25, 1): Troy, Central Arkansas, @Georgia Tech, Tulsa. Matt Coral pretty much seemed to be the perfect quarterback for Lane’s system, and sure they’ll have more reps, but his replacements for the bowl game last year did not look good for Kiffin’s chances of getting a job somewhere other than Oxford.
  10. Missouri (0.5, 1): Louisiana Tech, @Kansas State, Abilene Christian, New Mexico State. Again, Mizzou, that’s the wrong Kansas team! Ah, pretty good odds I say the same thing next year on the return trip, but fortunately they’ll be making it right in 2025.
  11. Kentucky (0, 1): Miami (OH), Youngstown State, Northern Illinois, Louisville. This is a pretty pedestrian schedule that figures to keep football a pleasant distraction these days in Frankfort.
  12. Tennessee (0.25, 1): Ball State, @Pittsburgh, Akron, Tennessee-Martin. Tennessee playing Pitt just feels right, for whatever reason. They’re not traditional rivals, but they do have that same hillbilly quality that West Virginia does, so they’re sort of rivals by extension?
  13. Mississippi State (0, 1): Memphis, @Arizona, Bowling Green, East Tennessee State. Miss State is going to drop that game to Memphis. I just feel it in my bones. Which will make it that more surprising (to some) when the then go to out to Tucson and throw for 800 yards in the desert.
  14. Vanderbilt (0, 1): @Hawaii, Elon, Wake Forest, @Northern Illinois. Vandy is basically getting their bowl game in at the start of the season, which some may consider wise. This also makes me wonder if the thing where you can play an extra home game if you go to Hawaii is still on the books. Not that Vandy would really want to take advantage of that, mind you.

Okay! Next up, we’ll put a bow on this thing, and then the season is upon us!

Rating the 2022 Non-Conference Slate: Intro

Once again, we’re back. My write-up from last year summarizes the game here, so I’ll just link to it.

If that’s too long for you, here’s the skinny: my brother and I rate every Power 5 team and some notable Group of Five teams on a scale: “no rating”, 0, .25, .5, .75, and 1. Why we don’t just do 0 to 4 is a great question, but it is what it is. The general idea is that a team with a rating of “1” is an appealing team that you’d be excited to play in your non-conference schedule, while “.75” is somewhat less exciting, and so on.

The list of “1”s is the 21 same as last year, but I’ll repeat it here for effect: Alabama, Auburn, California-Los Angeles, Clemson, Florida, Florida State, Georgia, Louisiana State, Miami, Michigan, Notre Dame, Ohio State, Oregon, Pennsylvania State, Southern California, Texas, Texas A&M, Washington, and Wisconsin.

We also rated the following Group of Five teams: Central Florida (0.5), Cincinnati (0.75), Houston (0.5), and Boise State (0.5).

Next up, we have our conference ranks, which I suspect may look different in the future (more on that later in the week). This is the rank of the average rating of every team in each Power 5 conference.

  1. Southeastern (0.536)
  2. Big Ten (0.464)
  3. Pacific-12 (0.458)
  4. Big 12 (0.475)
  5. Atlantic Coast (0.393)

The ACC really wishes East Coast bias was more of a thing – after all, no one is more East than them. Alas. But, while they may be last in appeal, they’re first alphabetically, so we’ll examine them team-by-team before anyone else. Onward, to the season!