Phil Steele has published his 2010 college football strength of schedule rankings. Iowa State has the toughest schedule in 2010, while Middle Tennessee has the easiest.
In 2009, South Carolina had the toughest schedule according to Steele. The Gamecocks finished the season 7-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC. The easiest schedule in 2009? Kent State, and they finished 5-7 and 4-4 in the MAC.
Listed below are Phil Steele’s 10 toughest schedules for 2010 (complete list):
- Iowa State (2009 ranking: 61) – The Iowa State Cyclones have the toughest schedule in 2010 according to Steele. The Cyclones open the season with Northern Illinois at home on a Thursday night followed by a non-conference game at Iowa. Next is a matchup with Kansas State in Kansas City, followed by Northern Iowa at home. A grueling 6-game stretch is next: Texas Tech and Utah at home, at Oklahoma, at Texas and then Kansas and Nebraska at home. The Cyclones close out 2010 with a trip to Colorado and then home against Missouri.
- South Carolina (2009 ranking: 1) – The South Carolina Gamecocks had the toughest ranked schedule in 2009. This year they come in second. The Gamecocks open the season with Southern Miss at home on a Thursday night followed by an SEC contest at home against Georgia. After a home game against Furman, Carolina plays at Auburn, followed by an open date and then home against national champion Alabama. South Carolina later hosts Tennessee and Arkansas and travels to Florida and Clemson.
- UCLA (2009 ranking: 38) – The Bruins open the season at Kansas State. They also have non-conference games at home against Houston and at Texas. Pac-10 games include Oregon State, Stanford, USC, at Arizona State, at Oregon and at Washington.
- Mississippi State (2009 ranking: 4) – Mississippi State has the 4th toughest schedule for the 2nd straight year. The Bulldogs will host non-conference opponents Memphis and UAB and will travel to Houston. SEC games include Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, at Alabama, at Florida, at LSU and at Ole Miss.
- Minnesota (2009 ranking: 5) – The Golden Gophers’ schedule is also ranked the same as in 2010. They start the season at Middle Tennessee before hosting the USC Trojans and Northern Illinois. Big Ten games include Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, at Illinois, at Michigan State and at Wisconsin.
- Oregon State (2009 ranking: 55) – The Beavers open 2010 with a tough game against TCU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. After an off week, they host Louisville and then travel to Boise State. Pac-10 games include Arizona State, California, Oregon, USC, at Stanford, at UCLA and at Washington.
- Washington (2009 ranking: 16) – Washington opens the season with three straight non-conference games: at BYU and then home against Syracuse and Nebraska. Pac-10 foes include, Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA, at Oregon, at USC and at Washington State.
- Miami (FL) (2009 ranking: 12) – After opening against FCS team Florida A&M, the Hurricanes travel to Ohio State, have an off week and then travel to Pittsburgh. Miami faces a tough ACC slate: Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, at Clemson and at Georgia Tech. The Canes close the season at home against USF.
- Duke (2009 ranking: 58) – The Blue Devils host the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. They also host Army and play at Navy. ACC games include Boston College, Miami (FL), North Carolina, at Georgia Tech, at Maryland and at Virginia Tech.
- LSU (2009 ranking: 21) – The Tigers open 2010 against North Carolina in the 2010 Chick-fil-A College Kickoff. LSU also hosts West Virginia and ULM in non-conference games. SEC contests include Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee, at Arkansas, at Auburn and at Florida.
A Big 12 school owns the toughest schedule, but the SEC and Pac-10 have three teams each in the The Top 10. The ACC has two schools, followed by the Big Ten with one.
The rest of the Top 25 in Phil Steele’s toughest schedule rankings are:
(11) Florida State, (12) Vanderbilt, (13) Washington State, (14) NC State, (15) Alabama, (16) Penn State, (17) Notre Dame, (18) Florida, (19) Auburn, (20) Colorado, (21) Illinois, (22) Oklahoma, (23) Texas A&M, (24) North Carolina, (25) UNLV
What do you think of Phil Steels’s rankings? Discuss them in the comments below.