Each season, the non-conference part of a team’s schedule ends up being scrutinized by analysts, fans, and other aspects of the media. Late season rankings hinge on the strength of these schedules. It provides an amusing, albeit annoying, topic on social media as well. It can cause a somewhat out of shape fellow deep in the heart of Alabama sitting on his couch, beer in hand, dropping “us” in a sentence as though he himself had 3 sacks the previous week. On the other end of that ‘debate’ is a 19 year old kid who suddenly became a football expert because he is now attending a Power 5 school somewhere in the northwest on an academic scholarship to become a bio-chemist. Aahhhh, college football is almost here, guys.
I love seeing top schools play tough schedules. You don’t see it that often because with the playoff format, each game, or potential loss, can adversely affect your presence, or lack thereof, in the post-season. But some of these non-conference schedules make me wonder what these schools and their respective ADs were thinking. You can’t expect respect by playing teams that simply have no chance of beating you. Here are a few that stood out to me.
Alabama: The Tide begins the season with Louisville. Ok, that’s admirable even though they lost Jackson. But the rest of their schedule is a joke. Arkansas St, Louisiana, and The Citadel. I don’t expect any school to play top teams for each non-conference game. But you’re Alabama, act like it.
Georgia: Austin Peay, Middle Tennessee, UMass, and Georgia Tech. Come on, guys. UGA is 4-0 without snapping the ball yet. I hope Bulldogs fans remember this when the playoff scenarios unfold this season. They’ll have to be near perfect just to make it.
Ohio State: The Buckeyes have TCU on their schedule. TCU went 11-3 last year, so I almost gave them a pass. But Oregon State and Tulane, a combined 6-18 last season, won’t do the Buckeyes any favors. Ohio State is one of the best teams, year in and year out, so we’d all like to see some better matchups.
Penn State: I get the in-state rivalry against Pitt, and Pitt has had some good teams in the past, so I’ll leave that one be. But they’ve also got ‘powerhouses’ Appalachian State and Kent State on their schedule. App State is an improving team, but a Big Ten team should be able to do better. Cue the ‘but they beat Michigan’ crowd. *eye roll emoji*
Oregon: I saved the best (worst) for last. What on earth were the Ducks thinking? How can you put a schedule like this out there without shame? Bowling Green, Portland State, and San Jose State. 4-32 combined record last season. Portland State went 0-11 in the Big Sky conference. I’ll pause here while you read those last 2 sentences again to allow it to sink in……………. You ready? You ok? If Oregon doesn’t go 3-0 in these games, they should be relegated to FCS.
There are a few other questionable ones, but in most cases they had a top 10 team on there to somewhat balance it out. Either way, we’re less than 2 months until we get to see college football in all its glory again. This fan is stoked.