On a hot and humid July Thursday night, it's time to start looking forward to the upcoming college football season. I'm going to focus on exposing what I believe to be the most courageous and lamest non-conference schedules among major conference teams. We're now in the second season of the College Football Playoff era, and I believe any major five conference team without a non-conference game against another major conference team should immediately be eliminated from contention, with the exception of the conferences that require nine conference games. I understand the argument that tough conference schedules necessitate games against lesser foes, but some schools aren't even trying. Most conferences have eight conference games. That leaves three patsies and a decent matchup. I don't think that's unreasonable. Of all of the conferences, the ACC has the most opportunities for tough out of league schedules, with in-state rivalries against SEC teams and the inclusion of Notre Dame in the rotation. I'll start with the lame first, since these are far more entertaining.
N.C. State (ACC): Okay, so I said the ACC had opportunities for tough schedules. Apparently the Wolfpack didn't get the memo. The murderers row of Troy, Eastern Kentucky, Old Dominion and South Alabama will precede State's conference schedule. Really?
Oklahoma State (Big 12): I know I said I'd give the conferences with nine league games a pass, but is this a misprint? at Central Michigan, Central Arkansas and UT San Antonio.
Kansas State (Big 12): South Dakota, at UT San Antonio and Louisiana Tech. Head coach Bill Snyder is really shooting for the stars, don't you think?
Arizona (Pac 12): UT San Antonio, at Nevada, Northern Arizona. Rich Rodriguez really knows how to prepare his team to face UCLA in the conference opener...NOT.
Colorado (Pac 12): Okay, I get it. The Buffaloes are trying to dig out of a big hole. But by travelling to Hawaii, they get an extra game and this is what they come up with after returning from the islands. Massachusetts, Colorado State and Nicholls State. Are you kidding me?
Vanderbilt (SEC): Even for a school that's marginally considered an SEC caliber football program, Western Kentucky, Austin Peay, at Middle Tennessee and at Houston is an embarrassment. Oh, and they play Texas A&M and Ole Miss from the SEC West. Of course, even with that cake schedule, they'll be fortunate to win four games.
Boston College (ACC): Maine, Howard and Northern Illinois. I know NIU has played well the last couple of years, but that's not a game the Eagles should be worried about at home. The big game is against Notre Dame, but it's at Fenway Park. You can't get a better place to take on a fellow Catholic squad.
Florida State (ACC): Texas State, South Florida and Chattanooga. Enough said. Only the annual game against Florida and first year coach Jim McElwain keeps the 'Noles out of diapers.
Ohio State (Big Ten): After the opener at Virginia Tech, the Buckeyes have to run the gauntlet of Hawaii, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan before that treacherous Big Ten opener at Indiana. Oh my. Can Urban Meyer say 5 - 0?
Penn State (Big Ten): at Temple, Buffalo, San Diego State and Army. I would expect at least one higher profile game from a school trying to restore luster to its tainted program.
Alabama (SEC): I get it, the SEC West is harder than the NFC South, but after playing Wisconsin in Dallas, the Tide take on Middle Tennessee, Louisiana Monroe and Charleston Southern. That slate sounds like the play-in games for March Madness.
Georgia (SEC): If it wasn't for their rivalry game at Georgia Tech to end the season, the Bulldogs could contend for the state high school championship with games against Louisiana Monroe, Southern and Georgia Southern.
Missouri (SEC): SE Missouri State, at Arkansas State, Connecticut and BYU in Kansas City. Not to mention, although I am, that Alabama, Auburn, Ole Miss and Texas A&M aren't on the schedule. Even at 12 - 1 and an SEC crown, I'm not sure this schedule can get the Tigers into the playoffs.
Arkansas (SEC): Another weak non-conference slate for an SEC west squad. UTEP, Toledo, Texas Tech and Tennessee-Martin will make it easy for the Hogs to put up lopsided wins. Their saving grace is the chance to post road victories at Tennessee, Alabama, Ole Miss and LSU.
Big Boy Pants:
Virginia Tech (ACC): Defending national champions Ohio State, at Purdue and at East Carolina. Okay, they play Furman along the way, but you have to admit they deserve a break for that one. And by the way, they were the only team to beat the Buckeyes last season.
Virginia (ACC): at UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise State. Not bad for a team that needs to win for coach Mike London to retain his job. Their patsy is in-state foe William and Mary, a perennial FCS contender that has beaten the Wahoos before.
Wake Forest (ACC): Army, Indiana and at Notre Dame. For a team coming off a 3 - 9 season, that's a pretty tough schedule, especially when they face Florida State, North Carolina, Louisville, Clemson and Duke in the conference. Good luck to the Demon Deacons. They're going to need it.
Michigan (Big Ten): New coach Jim Harbough will have a good idea of how good his team is after opening at Utah, then hosting Oregon State, UNLV and BYU. Oh, and the Big Ten opener is at a very good Maryland team.
Northwestern (Big Ten): Stanford, at Duke and Ball State. We can call the first two the ACT and SAT bowls, I guess. Of course, who would have thought that Duke would pose the challenge they do now?
Texas (Big 12): at Notre Dame, Rice, California. In his second season and coming off a drubbing by Arkansas in the Texas Bowl, Charlie Strong better hope his squad is ready for the season.
UCLA (Pac 12): Virginia, at UNLV, BYU. The Bruins should be ready to travel to Arizona for the conference opener.
Stanford (Pac 12): at Northwestern, UCF and Notre Dame. Now that's a heck of a non-conference slate when you also have nine games in your own league.
South Carolina (SEC): The Gamecocks open against North Carolina in Charlotte, play UCF later in September then finish against The Citadel and Clemson. Okay, maybe borderline for Big Boy status, but the Tigers are picked by some to win the ACC and Spurrier's guys have to face Texas A&M and LSU from the SEC West.
Don't forget to check out my new book, "Roughing the Passer - A PK
Frazier Novel" and my first, "Illegal Procedure - A PK Frazier Novel",
available in print and e-formats at Amazon.com, iBooks and Smashwords. The third installment, "Offsetting Penalties" is due out in the fall.