Power Ranking the Big Ten’s 2015 Non-Conference Schedules

By Amy Daughters -

Last week we ranked the SEC’s non-league slates, this week we move on to the Big Ten.

What sets the Big Ten apart from the SEC is the lack of FCS foes. Where the SEC has all but one member playing an FCS opponent in 2015, the Big Ten has only half of its membership—or seven teams—squaring off with FCS schools.

The other difference worth noting is that where a whopping four SEC squads won’t play a Power-Five team out of conference, only one Big Ten school will have such an easy ride through non-league play.

What the two conferences have in common is a huge gap between the most difficult non-conference schedules and those that are the easiest.

The net effect is that some programs’ road to a potential CFB Playoff bid will be easier than others.

14. Penn State

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Temple, Buffalo, San Diego State, Army

Not only is Penn State the only Big Ten member without a Power-Five opponent out of league play, it’s playing four teams that combined for a 22-26 record in 2014. The only saving grace is the lack of an FCS foe on the slate.

Penn State’s most recent regular-season, Power-Five opponent was in 2013 when it opened the season with a 23-17 win over Syracuse in East Rutherford, N.J.

13. Illinois

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: Kent State, FCS Western Illinois, at North Carolina, Middle Tennessee

The Illini are one of an impressive eight Big Ten teams who will hit the road to play a Power-Five non-conference game. They are also one of two Big Ten members who won’t play a winning team from last season out of league play.

Combined, Illinois’ four foes went 19-29 in 2014.

12. Rutgers

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS Norfolk State, Washington State, Kansas, Army

No Big Ten team will play a combined group of non-league foes with a worse record that Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights’ opponents combined for a woeful 14-34 record in 2014, the best mark coming from an Army team that went 4-8.

On the upside, Rutgers is one of four Big Ten schools with two Power-Five teams out of conference play: Washington State and Kansas, squads that combined for a 6-18 record in 2014.

11. Indiana

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS Southern Illinois, Florida International, Western Kentucky, Wake Forest

The only redeeming bits of Indiana’s non-conference schedule is a road trip to ACC Wake Forest (3-9 in 2014) and then a September date with a Western Kentucky team that went 8-5 last season.

Indiana has played Missouri out of conference play each of the last two seasons, so Wake represents an improvement that could mean bowl eligibility for the Hoosiers for the first time since 2007.

10. Nebraska

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: BYU, South Alabama, at Miami (Fla.), Southern Miss

What you’ve got to love about Nebraska’s non-Big Ten slate is its visit to Miami, where the Huskers haven’t played a regular-season game since the series between the two schools first began in 1951. That said, the Hurricanes went 6-7 last season making them not necessarily a Top 10 opponent.

On the plus side is BYU, not a Power-Five, but better than most of the bottom teams in the major conferences.

9. Iowa

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS Illinois State, at Iowa State, Pittsburgh, North Texas

Iowa is the second of the four Big Ten members with two Power-Five teams out of conference in 2015. The Hawkeyes get Pitt at home and travel to Iowa State.

What hurts Iowa is the fact that only one winning team from 2014 graces its non-Big Ten schedule: FCS Illinois State, a squad that went 13-2, losing 29-27 to North Dakota State in the FCS National Championship Game.

8. Wisconsin

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: Alabama (in Arlington, TX), Miami (OH), Troy, Hawaii

With the opener vs. powerhouse Alabama in Arlington, you might expect to see Wisconsin’s non-Big Ten slate ranked higher. It’s not because its other three opponents, all home games, combined for a 9-28 record last season.

This is the first year Wisconsin hasn’t played an FCS team since 2005, when it faced Bowling Green, Temple, North Carolina and Hawaii outside of Big Ten play.

7. Maryland

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: FCS Richmond, Bowling Green, USF, at West Virginia

The Terrapins are one of only four Big Ten teams that will face three-plus winning teams from last season: FCS Richmond (9-5), Bowling Green (8-6) and West Virginia (7-6).

The class of the schedule is the road trip to Morgantown, were Maryland hasn’t played since 2012 and hasn’t won since blasting the Mountaineers 48-17 in 2002.

6. Purdue

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Marshall, FCS Indiana State, Virginia Tech, Bowling Green

What hurts Purdue’s non-Big Ten schedule strength is the omission of Notre Dame, a team that up until this year, it has faced consecutively since 1946.

In place of the Irish is Virginia Tech, the Boilermakers’ first non-Notre Dame, power opponent since 2009 when they traveled to Eugene and lost to Oregon 38-36.

The balance of the schedule features three teams that finished last season with winning marks: 13-1 Marshall, 8-6 FCS Indiana State, and 8-6 Bowling Green.

Purdue is one of only two Big Ten schools playing all of its non-league games against winning opponents from 2014.

5. Ohio State

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Virginia Tech, Hawaii, Northern Illinois, Western Michigan

What gives Ohio State the edge over Purdue is three fold: First, the Bucks get the common opponent, Virginia Tech, on the road. Next up are Northern Illinois and Western Michigan, teams that combined for a 19-8 mark last season.

Though Marshall was a force to be reckoned with last season and went 10-3 in 2013, before that it hadn’t hit double digits since 2002. Northern Illinois, on the other hand, has posted 11-plus wins in each of its last five seasons. It’s the same program that that won 23-15 at Northwestern last season and won 30-27 at Iowa and 55-24 at Purdue in 2013.

4. Northwestern

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: Stanford, FCS Eastern Illinois, at Duke, Ball State

Not only does Northwestern have one of the best smart-school vs. smart-school schedules ever in 2015, its two brain battles are against Stanford and Duke, teams that combined for a 17-9 mark in 2014.

That makes Northwestern the only Big Ten school with two winning Power-Fives on its 2015 non-conference slate.

3. Michigan

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Utah, Oregon State, UNLV, BYU

Though Michigan isn’t necessarily going up against USC and Oregon, it will face two full-fledged Pac-12 squads and as solid an independent as you’ll find.

The only flaws are UNLV, a team that only won two games in 2014, and Oregon State, a team that went 5-7. But remember, the Beavers have a new lease on life with new head man Gary Andersen, a guy who hasn’t suffered a losing season as a head coach since 2010, his second year at Utah State.

Michigan hasn’t opened up a season with a true road game since 1998, when it lost at Notre Dame 36-20. The Wolverines’ last win in a season-opener away from Michigan Stadium came in 1991, when they traveled to Boston College and won 35-13.

2. Minnesota

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: TCU, at Colorado State, Kent State, Ohio

Minnesota will open up its season against a pair of non-Big Ten opponents that went 22-4 last season. It makes up what could be the most difficult opening salvo of the entire FBS field.

If the Gophers were to beat the Horned Frogs, a team that could be No. 1 by the time the season kicks off, it will have to rebound against a Rams’ squad that hasn’t lost at home since Nov. 2, 2013 when Boise State rolled into town and won 42-30.

1. Michigan State

2015 Non-Conference Opponents: at Western Michigan, Oregon, Air Force, Central Michigan

Not only will Michigan State host National Championship runner-up Oregon in 2015, it is one of only two Big Ten teams with four non-league games vs. four winning opponents from 2014.

Other than the 13-2 Ducks, the Spartans will wrangle with 8-5 Western Michigan, 10-3 Air Force and 7-6 Central Michigan. That equals a combined record of 38-16, by far the best mark in the Big Ten.

Amy Daughters is a contributor to FBSchedules.com.

  1. Josh
    February 17, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Iowa has Pitt at home. They traveled to Pitt last season and won 24-20.

  2. Billy
    February 17, 2015 at 5:31 pm

    Always hard to predict what P5 Schools will be a “power” or “threat” in out years, but give the Big Ten, as a whole, credit for scheduling their share. Amy points out interesting points, both positive and negative depending on what side of the coin you’re on, but the Big Ten here has demonstrated they’re not like the frighten conference from the southeast.

    Three little stats are interesting to look at in comparison between the SEC and the B1G.
    1) Power Five Opponents; SEC – 11 and the B1G – 17
    2) Away Game NC Opponents; SEC – 7 and the B1G – 12
    3) FCS Opponents; SEC – 13 and the B1G – 7

    Both conferences had 54 non-conference games to schedule in 2015, so it’s not like the B1G had an advantage in scheduling 6 more P5 games, or traveling 5 more times on the road, or being “forced” to schedule an FCS opponent, it’s just the lack of the SEC putting themselves out there at risk on a regular basis outside of their conference. Poor Planning will Result in Poor Results.

  3. Trucks
    February 17, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Good overview Billy. But SEC schedule is not the result of poor planning. It is exactly how the SEC wanted to schedule. And when we refer to the SEC as a whole, it is clear there are differences between the upper tier and the lower tier of the conference. Particularly Ol Miss, Miss St and Vanderbilt. And Missouri is still having issues assembling their schedule since moving from the Big12.

    And you can understand why Alabama has a horrible home schedule as the Tide are unwilling to schedule home-and-home, and instead just want to play a so-called “neutral field” game every season in southern region pro stadium. The neutral site kickoff games are all the rage now but I suspect that idea will begin to wane as other power programs begin to refuse to play in such games. It all comes down to TV money.

    Note that four SEC programs have the advantage of non-conference rivalry games (Geo, Fla, SC, Ky).

    The only reason the SEC is mandating every program play at least one non-conference game against a P5 opponent is because national perception was going against the SEC and the SEC saw the change was needed to increase conference opportunities to play in the CFP. But the mandate was not because those impacted programs wanted to change. It is strange how some SEC fans take delight in attending multiple uncompetitive cupcake games at home where the opposition is likely to get slaughtered.

    • day
      February 18, 2015 at 7:25 am

      “The neutral site kickoff games are all the rage now but I suspect that idea will begin to wane as other power programs begin to refuse to play in such games. It all comes down to TV money.”
      Don’t forget the big paychecks these teams/programs get to cash in the end. Of course it is about the money & not worrying about the scheduling conflicts & avoiding arguments, arrangements of a home n home series in which now if you noticed is very hard to do. Some teams are having to schedule home n home in which they are not even back to back years anymore. You may have a point that this is a wane but these neutral sites games keep popping up everywhere, from California to Georgia now up to New York & the best teams in the P5 are participating in them so I don’t see them leaving anytime soon. I rather enjoy them, its like having a bowl at the start of the year.

  4. ncaafbsczar
    February 17, 2015 at 8:43 pm

    Ohio States would improve if Gene Smith – had Hawaii’s game moved to Away and Add – Air Force on 8/30/2015 at FedExField in Washington D.C.

  5. Patrick Ryan
    February 17, 2015 at 10:05 pm

    Not impressed one bit with the OOC games. I’m definitely not going to hate but this is nothing special. Nice to see them playing Alabama, Oregon and TCU. But let’s face it Oregon won’t be as good as they were the last few and TCU won’t be this good for a while and hope they can live up to the hype this year. But dot think it will be all that hard to be successful in the Big12. Not trying to hate. Other than that nothing impressive. And let’s not try and compare the weaker D1 and P5s to the strong FCS programs. They really aren’t that much different. However some people really want to think so. Throw all the stats you may but when it comes to football on the field, teams like App St, North Dakota St, Furman and many more like those are not different than teams like Bowling Green, Western Michigan, Northern Illinois, Kent St,, Ball St and some others. Those numbers look awfully telling until you look a little closer and see the actual teams. But not much different on the football playing field. It seems some people might be a little confused on the level of football some of these teams play on. If they can even differentiate between the two. Nice to shift back into college football mode for a few. Two weeks away from spring practice at Clemson boys and we are just reloading. Get ready, “We Too Deep”

    • Maverick
      February 17, 2015 at 10:47 pm

      Every comment you have is so ridiculous. The Big 10 and the PAC 12 have the best out of conference schedules. Your ACC and SEC are horrendous. Please, enough with your comments

    • Billy
      February 18, 2015 at 12:01 pm

      Patrick Ryan, please….. You know (or should know) that you can not tell what P5 teams or Other Five teams will be good or not good in 3+ years. You may think you can, but you can’t. Probations, Sanctions, Coaching Changes, all occur and can change the dynamics of a team in a heart beat. The one variable that is somewhat stable is the “Conferences” as a whole. Of course there are teams within each conference that have peaks and valleys, but each conference as a whole as been fairly stable. With this said, the P5 Conferences are truly the best of the Football conferences and to schedule any team within one of these conferences in out years is to your strength of schedule advantage. You say your “not impressed one bit”, but yet only the ACC has more P5 OCC games scheduled and of course that is greatly aided by the Notre Dame factor.

      I’ve shared before, but in 2015 the Big Ten has the best Strength of Schedule OCC Schedule of the P5 Conference. The B1G scored 2.36 on the OCC Score, followed by the ACC with 2.27, the Pac12 with a 2.21 score, the Big 12 with a 2.03 score and finally the SEC with a 1.88 score.

      Sometimes you are guilty by association and sometimes you benefit from the environment you are surrounded by. Each of the P5 Schools, for better or worse, are surrounded by their fellow conference members.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 18, 2015 at 2:30 pm

      Man I love you guys. Haha. Again what predictions did I make about records or scores for years in advance or even next year? And yes I said I was not impressed. That doesn’t mean I was disappointed, I just think they could all do a better job. Again I am a fan of Clemson and the ACC, so have fun with that one. Haha I just have respect for the quality of football played in the SEC. So you guys can spare me all your irrelevant stats. And to be honest would like to see even them play a few more better games a year. But then again I have no problem with them playing a few FCS schools. And once again, please let me know when I said the P5s weren’t the strongest conferences with the best football played. Id love for some more clarification. And yes I want to see more P5s schedule more P5s OOC. But at the same time there are some really good programs that don’t belong to the P5s, not to mention better football is played at the 1AA level than it seems some believe. So go ahead and reference those comments that you believe I have made please. I did voice my opinion about a matchup that I am very excited about seeing. Excited about seeing for many difderent reasons, especially with the way OSU ended the season. I have a personal belief that the SEC is the strongest conference year in and year out but will have down years due simply to the parity in college sports in general. Again go tigers baby. Everyone will again be introduced to one of the best players in college football and who will start next season as one of the best dual threat Qbs in the nation but at the same time will be one of the top pocket passing Qbs and on top of that he will be a true sophomore. Mariota and Winston redshirted.Those are some predictions that you may take do with as you please.

    • petef3
      February 18, 2015 at 8:56 pm

      “Again what predictions did I make about records or scores for years in advance or even next year? ”

      Um, you said Oregon won’t be as good this year. In the universe I live in that’s a prediction.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 18, 2015 at 9:40 pm

      Huh. Guess it depends on how you look at it. If you want to look at it that way, ok you got me. I meant it as an opinion! They could have a better record than last year but still not be as good as they were this year with Mariota, or have a worse record but be better than the year before. Some clarification for you. And those are pretty valid reasons for those assumptions. What’s your take on how they will be? Or do you just wait til after the fact and recite numbers like computer. Anyone can do that. Oh and what universe is it that you live on? Haha

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 19, 2015 at 1:24 pm

      Why don’t to check out Mavericks (goose) predictions. Those are predictions.

  6. John Thomas
    February 17, 2015 at 10:19 pm

    Not bad, certainly more impressive than the SEC non-conference schedule, but that’s not really saying a whole lot to begin with.

  7. Patrick Ryan
    February 18, 2015 at 12:00 am

    Hands down my favorite game on this list is Vt vs Ohio St. As bad as VT ended last season, they lost many close games. I am sure that both these schools have it marked on their calendar in their locker room. But I bet VT wants this one even more and with the way OSU ended the season I could see them overlooking VT. With the downfall of the program over the last few years Vt needs to get off to a great start and what a way it would be to start 2015 off with a win against the defending national champs. This one has been marked on VT’s calendar long before it was on OSUs. VT’s defense showed to be a major problem at home last season and I expect whoever is under center for OSU will experience something similar. Big games to open the season become even tougher and set the tone for the season. This one is definitely marked on my list and I will be pulling for the underdog. However, don’t get me wrong I would never put any money on this one. After seeing what Urban Myer did last season I have no doubt they will show up ready to play as well as call the plays. He has proven over many seasons that he has an exact understanding of what his players can and can’t be successful in doing. And he puts them in the right positions (calls the right plays) to be successful. They simply made fewer mistakes last season and it turned out to be the difference. But hey, go Hokies.

  8. Evan
    February 18, 2015 at 1:09 am

    I don’t like how teams like WF, Vandy, Colorado, Kansas are considered P5 teams when they basically suck, and especially WF and Vandy wouldn’t be in power conferences if college sports started today.
    Why are Boise St and Marshall not considered p5 teams, and iowa st and Syracuse are?

  9. Trucks
    February 18, 2015 at 3:04 am


    You come across sounding like a fortune teller, announcing you know how programs will perform next season. Tone it down a bit please.

    “Not trying to hate” Enough with the juvenile cliches please.

  10. Patrick Ryan
    February 18, 2015 at 11:36 am

    Just curious in what way do I seem like a fortune teller? And feel free to fill me in on the clinches please? I made no predictions of scores or future records. Made a pretty obvious statement that due to Marriota being done, Oregon won’t be the same team they have been. I do think a large part of ther success is from the system them run, however they will miss his patience and maturity. R those not obvious? I didn’t say they would or wouldn’t win the pac12. I said they aren’t going to be as good. Pretty simple assumption. And many times in the paragraph I wrote did I mention, I actually think VT would win? I am just excited about the matchup. Hope we continue to see more like this one, Big10 vs ACC, etc… I would be happy to make some predictions along with a few others on these cites and we can see who is closer to being right next season. Do you even make comments about the article written or do you just comment on people’s posts who’s views are different than yours? And none of you guys ever seem to mention who your teams are when I ask. Who’s yours? Schoup? John?

  11. Bill Hann
    February 18, 2015 at 3:22 pm

    OK, cards on the table – I’m an Ohio State fan, but I have season tickets to Northwestern -because they’re 75 miles to the south of me. First, Patrick Ryan, you’re not being overly a homer. Clemson has a great program. If I lived in South Carolina, I’d want to see the South Carolina – Clemson match up every year. Clemson has done a good job of playing two P5 schools – Georgia and South Carolina in the two most recent years.

    The Hokies deserved the win over Ohio State – but, with last year’s result in mind, the Buckeyes could hardly underestimate that team when the two meet in Blacksburg.

    I think Northwestern has scheduled better than most P5 schools. Last year it was Notre Dame at South Bend, Northern Illinois, and California. In 2015, I’d rate Northwestern’s non-conference matches as tougher than any SEC non-conference schedule, Duke and Stanford are the OOC games.

    The top four schedules on Amy Daughters’ listing are commendable, matches of Minnesota with TCU, and MSU vs Oregon, sound great. Good for Wisconsin scheduling Alabama, though with Melvin Gordon gone, and their QB play, I wonder how they can pair up.

    Tough scheduling – how about Hawaii scheduling away games at Wisconsin and Ohio State.

    Yeah for college football – isn’t it great that everybody has a different opinion?

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 18, 2015 at 6:49 pm

      Just curious, did you read my whole post or half of it? Because I gave a ton of credit to OSU for what they accomplished this past season not to mention they may have one of the greatest coaches of all times for all college sports when it’s all said and done. I wouldn’t put money on it and as I said in my previous post they have Urban Myer. At the same time these are 18-22 year olds and things like the success they have had goes directly to their heads. I just have a feeling/hunch that it could be another big surprise. But then again it’s prolly my bias overriding what I believe will happen. Just an exciting matchup between to great programs. I want to see more games of this magnitude for OOC matchups. I could care less about seeing Ohio St. play Hawaii, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan. I would much rather see them play two or three quality football programs. But hey if this is the stage that the most prominent football programs want to set, so be it. You guys can be all excited about it and once again I am not that impressed one bit. Sorry I am a Clemson fan and pull for the ACC and we seem to be setting the stage however continue to be considered the worst P5. How much sh*t did FSU recieve last year for playing Florida, Oklahoma St. And Notre Dame. Winning all those games wasn’t enough they were not only suppose to win but dominate. Haha. I want to see more home/home series scheduled between conferences as well as more east/west coast P5s play. I believe we will continue to see better rules and matchups especially with the way last season played out.

    • Maverick
      February 19, 2015 at 2:28 am

      @Patrick Ryan…
      Again with your ridiculous comments. I’m very sorry that you don’t realize Northern Illinois is a top football program for Ohio State… Also, I’m sorry you haven’t realized that most of the SEC don’t play AWAY OOC GAMES, especially either up north in Big 10 country or out west in the Pac 12… For the record, the only people who talked smacked about Florida State’s 2014 schedule were ESPN talking heads and fans of the SEC (which are one and the same). You should stop watching ESPN and start reading anything but their hogwash articles. The second you understand that the SEC’s scheduling in a joke is the day people will start taking you seriously. You can’t schedule good games if you don’t travel from time-to-time.

      Also, I am a Trojan, which is why I know what I’m talking about. This 2015 is our worst OOC scheduling year we’ve had in a long long time, and we are still playing 10 Power 5 teams! (9 conference games and an AWAY GAME @ ND). When the SEC can do that and try to breathe the same air as us, then you can talk.

      Finally, your Clemson Tigers are going to flop this year. Probably lose to ND and the Seminoles. Maybe even a couple more. Sorry to burst that bubble you live in.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 19, 2015 at 1:21 pm

      For one I never said anything about the SEC having better OOC games than any other conferences. I am ok with their OOC games because I feel it balances itself out because in my personal opinion they have a top to bottom deeper conference. As why you see teams like Arkansas beat LSU and almost beat Alabama as well as Florida crushing Georgia. The SEC is flat out deeper and if you don’t show up you will get beat and can even get beat ugly. However at the same time I would like all D1 programs to play nine confernce games as well as schedule home/homes. But hey you won’t see Clemson doing that so I don’t care. Until they have a more uniform rule we don’t need to bother trying to compare. I am fine with them play one or even two quality 1AA schools especially when teams like Georgia last year played Clemson and GT. Those two games plus two FCS games is a very tough schedule for any conference and on top of that they play in the SEC which in “my opinion” is the best.

      Well to be honest I can’t wait for USC to get back to where they were during the Pete Carrol era. I think it is so much better for college football when teams like USC are at the top. Plus I am not a huge fan of Oregon and to burst another one of your bubbles, I think the PAC12 is overrated. And again spare me stats from this past bowl season. But I do feel bad that Oregon didn’t win the championship this past year because it will be another long while until the PAC12 gets back there. But hey USC definitely stands the best chance from the PAC12. But yet you guys seem to get caught up in the fancy offenses and forget they don’t play much defense in the PAC12. What’s even more funny is the comments I hear about how the offenses in the SEC are outdated and behind its time. That’s laughable.

      What’s even more funny is how you would think losing to ND and FSU would be a flop. Losing to two of the most prominent college football programs of all time. Not to mention they have been playing at the highest level in the more recent years.

      And please don’t try to build Northern Illinois up.

      I would give anything to see Clemson play a PAC12 in a bowl and I mean one of the top two or three teams in the PAC12. You did get beat by BC last season. Haha sorry. And sh*t a very bad Virginia team almost beat your highly ranked Bruins. God they were overranked last season along with both Arizona teams.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 19, 2015 at 4:02 pm

      @Maverick from now on Goose. Ur no maverick.
      Just curious, not like it really matters to Clemson because we are already know as “Wide Receiver U” one reason they like Clemson along with many others. How scared are you about losing Keyshaun to Clemson? And we barely even recruit California. Not a good sign, even if we don’t sign him. But my guess is we will.

    • Billy
      February 19, 2015 at 4:18 pm

      @Patrick Ryan,
      Hate to say it because I’ve never met you, but you’re delusional. To say the SEC is “flat out deeper” than the other conferences is viewed with tinted glasses flavoring the vision seen from an SEC fan.

      The SEC does have good teams, but the few don’t not make the whole. If you were to start at the bottom of the SEC and look up, it appears to be a very weak conference. It all depends on one’s point of view and again I’m sorry to say, but I think you may be in a delusional state when it comes to this topic.

      Let me ask you this. If you were to take the bottom two teams from each of the P5 Conferences this past year (2014) and call them a conference in some fashion, who would win that league? The teams would be Colorado and Oregon State of the PAC 12, Indiana and Purdue of the B1G, Wake Forest and Syracuse of the ACC, Kansas and Iowa State of the Big 12, and Kentucky and Vanderbilt of the SEC. These are the bottom two teams of each conference, nothing more and nothing less, and I think at the best the SEC may be able to squeak out a fourth place finish when looking at this Bottom Two Conference scenario. Your opinion I think would be interesting.

      Again, I will agree with no question the SEC has good teams, but to say flat out they’re deeper or that they are good from top to bottom is crazy. Have a good day.

    • Bob Gibson
      February 19, 2015 at 5:47 pm

      @Patrick, you need to either stop smoking weed or stop watching ESPN. The SEC is “flat out top to bottom” better is delusional at best. Indiana beating Missouri at home pretty much sums that up. And scheduling weaker OOC games doesn’t balance itself out. You honestly don’t believe that do you? Georgia just a few years ago didn’t beat a single team that finished better than 6-6 and went 10-2 in that conference.

      As for the Pac 12 being overrated? If you think the Arizona schools were overrated, then so were Ole Miss and Mississippi State. Virgina barely losing to UCLA doesn’t really say much, especially since you want to base that off of the first game of the season and a 9am start time for a west coast team. I remember a Maryland team beating a ranked Cal team doing the same, only for Cal to return the favor and schedule the rematch at 10:30EST, beating them soundly. But basing something off of the first week of the season is a pathetic argument. Virginia Tech beat Ohio State in the second week of the season and soundly. I’m guessing you think they would have done it again weeks later too. Have good day, but you should seriously stop while you’re ahead.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 19, 2015 at 7:14 pm

      Once again quit making generalized statements and I am not a SEC fan. A die hard Clemson fan. I just have respect for what they have done in the past. It’s my opinion and has been but at least my mind not set in stone like some of yours are it seems. If the tides start to turn my mind may as well, but for now, once again that is my opinion. And you can get rid of your Georgia and Missouri comment because as I have said in many posts, there is much more parity in college football than ever before and with that being said expect to see everything happen. As we saw this year in many different areas. And to be honest VT could have just as well beaten OSU later in the season just as easily as they beat them in the second game of the season. I’m assuming they needed a loss to achieve what they did. Go ahead and flip that statement also. Not nearly as likely, but I do totally agree, you definitely cant base an entire season off of what happens the first game or two of the season. As I will admit with what happened to the Clemson Tiger defense in the forth quarter of the Georgia game. No one other than Clemson fans would have thought they would have ended the season with the highest ranked overall defense after watching that forth quarter.

      Half of the stuff you directed at me I said nothing about. But good job finding a few bad loses. And no I didn’t make an opinion of UCLA based on that one game. I watched them many times and from what I saw they played two really good games and squeaked by the rest. I was not impressed with the level of football they played at this year. Other than against ASU and Kansas St. But then again I didn’t think Kansas st was all that impressive this year either. You can run with that one also. I would have given almost anything to have played a PAC12 school in a bowl this year. But let’s face it, we will continue to see a joke of a bowl season of you ask me.

      I will admit that I thought at the beginning of the season both Ole Miss and Miss St were legit as well as Arizona and ASU. I was beyond disappointed in the way Arizona played against Oregon In PAC12 title game. It didn’t prove how strong the PAC12 was but yet somehow got overlooked and then they received the most generous BCS bowl against Boise and lost. They were overrated. ASU beat a decent Duke team, I still would have liked to see a little better matchup. Funny how Clemson was ranked much closer to Arizona or ASUs record but yet ASU plays Duke- generous matchup for ASU in my opinion. I also understand to a degree what goes into where amd who you play for your bowl. And what’s your opinion on Miss St? Because they were very good but just faced one of the hottest teams in the nation at the end of the season. So…. Hard to hate on them. It would have been nice for Clemson ranked at 17th to play a higher ranked team than Oklahoma. But in my opinion we played the best unranked team in hopes we would lose and if we win we don’t get as much credit or repsect because we didn’t beat a ranked team. Because we all know how important these numbers are for current and future rankings.

      I will have a good rest of my day. It’s a beautiful 65 degrees and sunny in good old chico ca. Finishing up at work and writing this post on the clock. Haha and man you guys need to quit taking things so personal. You guys sound like a bunch of b*itches. Haha jk. Props to anyone who can name that movie. Again sorry if I’ve jumped down anyone’s throat, easy to do tho.
      God I love college football. Anyone know how many days… My boy Deshaun Watson is considered a genetic freak, two months ahead of his scheduled recovery time.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 19, 2015 at 7:16 pm

      Sorry left out the go tigers baby.

    • Bob Gibson
      February 19, 2015 at 9:21 pm

      Sorry, but Mississppi State was not good. Didn’t beat a single team that finished better than 8-4. They were simply SEC hype plain and simple. Best win of the season came against an Auburn team that should have lost at Kansas State (who yourself said was unimpressive) and gave up 31 points or more in each of their last 7 games against FBS opponents. Mississippi State was a fringe top 25 team, Ole Miss the same.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 19, 2015 at 10:27 pm

      You can take that comment back if you would like. You have quite the expectations. 10-3 In the SEC (not that it means much to any of you) and barely losing to a very good GT team doesn’t constitute as even good. Not going to waste my time checking averages out but I’m sure the PAC12s is much higher. Blame it on the high flying offenses of the west coast if you may. I believe it’s because they don’t play as good of defense in the PAC12. The single reason it’s been so long since a championship. Same reason as BIG12. And I don’t think the trend will change but with everything it will happen eventually. And my guess or prediction is it will be USC once again, leaving Oregon still with none even after all these great years. However was at the Rose Bowl and the Oregon fans were a blast to tailgate with.

  12. schoup
    February 18, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    The author rankings are suspect at best. The author over regards records of mid majors while down playing P5’s who are average. The fact is if those 6-6 or 7-5 P5’s played in G5’s schedules they would be 9 or 10 win teams atleast and the author would be praisnig that as a tough game.

  13. Bill Hann
    February 20, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Yes Patrick Ryan, I read all of your comments along with the whole chain of remarks by all the authors. Patrick, you were courteous to my Buckeyes – even though you’ll be pulling for the Hokies come September. Hey, I enjoyed looking at these exchanges. I EVEN talk to Michigan fans! No kidding! Who expects everyone to agree with everybody else. These P5 conferences are all competitive and no one needs to disrespect anyone. The Big Ten teams were rated underdogs in all of the bowl games and yet won more of their fair share. Players on all these bowl games and tough match ups do underestimate their opponent – or not show up fully motivated. Injuries impacted some schools more than others – the depth issue. Mississippi lost their top receiver and it impacted them mightily. Nobody chose to chime in on my remark about the toughness of Northwestern’s OOC games or about Hawaii having road OOC games at Wisconsin and Ohio State. Soo, why don’t you all say what school has the toughest schedule . . . Big Ten or nationally.

    • Josh
      February 20, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Probably either Western Michigan (Michigan State, at Georgia Southern, at Ohio State) or Louisiana-Monroe (at Georgia, Nicholls St, at Alabama, at Tulsa, at Hawaii). LA-Monroe gets the 13th game due to playing at Hawaii, which is Nicholls State at home. But four road games out of conference? Dang. Out of the American Athletic Conference, SMU has Baylor, North Texas and at TCU. Central Florida has trips to Stanford and South Carolina, but their two home games are against Florida Int’l and Furman. Bowling Green also deserves a mention as they have Tennessee (in Nashville), at Maryland, Memphis (10-3 in 2014), and at Purdue.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 20, 2015 at 6:10 pm

      Out of the P5s I believe these are the toughest OOC schedules although it is hard to compare the PAC12 and Big12 because they play nine conference games so that changes everything.

      ACC- Virginia plays UCLA, Notre Dame and Boise St. But they don’t play Clemson or FSU this year so overall not quite as difficult when you don’t play either one of those teams in the ACC bit ending the season with these five games is difficult- GT, Miami, Duke, Louisville and VT. As well as an improving North Carolina team.

      SEC OOC games are pretty weak when you look solely at those but different in my opinion when you look at the schedules entirety. At least with some teams in the SEC.
      South Carolina- UNC, UCF and Clemson

      I guess it would have to be Michigan St from the Big 10 but only because Oregon is in there.

      I definitely agree with Josh, I lived in Monroe while my dad coached there for many years. They have always played the best schools year in and year out. I remember right when they transitioned to 1A, they played Colorado when Cordell Stewart was their QB.

    • Mike Pike
      February 20, 2015 at 7:13 pm

      @PR, have to totally disagree with that. The SEC as to be ranked at the bottom of the OOC argument. Look at the entirety of their schedules all you want, the conference isn’t that tough to navigate through. That’s a myth brought to you by ESPN, which has you hook, line, and sinker. As a Missouri fan, I know it is. The SEC has 5 or 6 really good teams, but they don’t all play each other and in most cases they only play 1 or 2 tough games. Add in the cupcake non-conference schedules that Florida, my Missouri Tigers, Auburn, Ole Miss, Miss. State, Kentucky, Georgia, and LSU have put together and its not hard to see how most of these teams will win 8 games. The conference as a whole will play 7 true road games. That’s awful and an embarrassment. Having said that, the Big 12 may have done an even worse job.

      If I had to rank the conferences based off of the OOC schedule, it would look like this:

      1. ACC
      2. Big 10
      3. Pac-12
      4. SEC
      5. Big 12

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 20, 2015 at 8:54 pm

      Have to totally disagree with what? I don’t believe I ranked the conferences in order. Where was that on my post? I simply picked those three teams as having the toughest OOC games from those three conferences. That was it, there was no ranking system, 1-5… Etc. Why don’t some of you guys just keep on repeating the same thing as well as coming up with how I made my conclusion. Espn has no influence on me thinking they are the toughest conference. Sorry but not true. Those are quite the assumptions.

      And of the P5s it’s pretty easy to say Virginia has the toughest OOC games. Am I wrong?

    • Mike Pike
      February 20, 2015 at 9:25 pm

      You didn’t go a 1-5 but you did rank them as the ACC and the SEC being tougher than the rest. Sorry you feel that everyone thinks that ESPN has an influence over you, but the problem is you are just repeating what they say whether that’s your opinion or not, that is something you should consider. I would agree with the Virginia remark however. More schools should schedule like that. I also like Stanford’s, which has Northwestern, Notre Dame, and UCF.

  14. Patrick Ryan
    February 21, 2015 at 2:33 am

    I was ranking the conferences as a whole but now that I am looking even closer you guys aren’t going to want to hear what I have to say. I consider Stanford a top noch program with nine at best and that’s being generous. This is why I think the Sec can get by with playing only 8 conference games, however I would like all conferences to do that. Stanford’s schedule is the toughest of the Pac12 with nine tough games. I personally just can’t count Colorado, Wash St. or Oregon St. And to be honest have a tough time counting Cal or Washington. Of Washingtons wins none came against a P5 teams with a winning record and they should be happy they got an extra game.
    In my opinion Arkansas and Tenn are much farther along in the rebuilding process than Cal or Washington.
    Alabama plays Wisconsin Ole Miss Georgia Arkansas Texas AM Tenn LSU Miss St and Auburn. That is a ridiculous schedule. That’s nine very competive games. And there are quite a few Sec teams with nine very competitive games. Most have eight and a few have seven. As of now Missouri has the weakest Sec schedule until we see who they add. I am not counting Kentucky or Vanderbilt as tough games. As I have stated earlier I am putting Ole Miss/Miss St in the same category as Arizona/ASU.
    As of now I would think that Stanford and USC have the toughest schedules in the PAC12. I just think those teams I listed as a whole, the teams Alabama plays are better than the nine who Stanford and USC play. That’s just my personal opinion but things could change depending on how the season goes.
    So personally I think these two conferences are comparable on overall scheduling. I’d be happy to answer any questions regarding who I think are quality oppenents and how I came up with some of those numbers although I didn’t list too many specifics. However I will be happy to clarify. I do believe I counted Nevada a quality team that I believe both the Pac12 and Sec play. I could be mistaken. I didn’t look thru the ACC or Big10. I believe without looking directly at the other two conferences that they SEC has the overall strongest strength of scheduling even with those FCS schools, when you count overall quality games. And that’s always debatable and is based on ones sole opinion. I believe there is great parity among college football.

    Someone mentioned earlier about putting the two bottom teams in a conference well what separates the conferences is how many teams each conference has on the bottom. That’s what I believe seperates the Sec. It’s the overall % You can do the math take the good quality teams compared to bad teams. Sec- Vanderbilt/Kentucky 12/14 ACC- Syracuse, WF, Virginia, 11/14 or 10/14 and you could throw Pitt in if you wanted, Pac12-Colorado, Wash St, Oregon St and could throw Washington in the mix. Big10- Purdue, Rutgers, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa and Maryland. 8/14 Sorry not a believer in Maryland yet but can take them out if you want. Big12- Iowa St and Kansas. 8/10 All the conferences have different numbers so hard to exactly compare, but many different and unique ways to look at it. Look at all the bad teams then compare the amount of good teams. Then look at the number of top tier teams in each conference.

    • Mike Pike
      February 21, 2015 at 10:57 am

      Sorry, but this is where we have to agree to disagree. Alabama’s schedule isn’t as tough as Stanford’s in my opinion. Playing 10 Power 5 schools (Notre Dame included) outweighs 9, throw in no true road non-conference game, an FCS opponent, and no road game until October, and to me it’s just not comparable. Tough yes, tougher than Stanford’s, just don’t see that. Texas A&M still has yet to learn how to play defense, Miss. State returns 9 starters, they won’t be good. Ole Miss will have to break in a new QB, as is Georgia and Auburn, which both also return very little starters from last season. And that’s the problem, people still give that conference too much credit when the credit isn’t deserved unless you’re talking about LSU or Alabama who can reload. The other schools in that conference simply can’t. It’s been proven year after year. Tennessee is going to be good as will Arkansas, but expect the Mississppi schools to fall back as well as Auburn. As far as the Pac-12 schools go, Arizona won’t be as good as last year. Arizona State is at least a 9 win team, and Cal returns 18 starters from last season, I expect them to at the very least to be bowl eligible.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 21, 2015 at 12:54 pm

      Good points about Alabama and the games they don’t play on the road. I believe we both could make a case that the other team has the toughest schedule. I look at teams like Florida- they play nine P5 plus East Carolina, a quality team. Georgia plays nine P5s and plays Georgia Southern, a quality opponent in my opinion. Texas AM plays nine P5s plus Nevada. And to top it off South Carolina plays 10 P5s plus UCF. I have just felt in the past that teams like UCF, I know Stanford plays them also, Nevada and East Carolina are tougher opponents than Washington St., Oregon St. Or even Cal in the recent years. I want Cal to be successful they are the closest P5 to where I live. But you are right Stanfords Schedule is very tough and I will go ahead and say that it could end up being tougher than some of the toughest Sec schedules but that doesn’t included all of the Pac12 just Stanford. South Carolinas and Stanfords seem to be pretty equal just depends on which teams they play turn out to be good or bad. I’ll have to break down some other conferences as well in the near future.

    • Tim
      February 25, 2015 at 1:32 pm

      See this:

      The much anticipated rematch of the 2011 Capital One Bowl has been canceled
      The much anticipated rematch of the 2011 Capital One Bowl has been canceled. (USATSI)
      The home-and-home series between Alabama and Michigan State is no more. Michigan State athletic director Mark Hollis confirmed the news to the Detroit Free-Press on Thursday afternoon.

      “Alabama requested to cancel the series due to uncertainty with the SEC schedule,” Hollis told the paper via text. “While disappointed, in the spirit of collegiality, we agreed to the request.”

      The series had been scheduled for Tuscaloosa in 2016 and East Lansing in 2017.

      The uncertainty with Alabama’s SEC schedule is likely related to wondering whether the SEC will have moved to a nine-game conference schedule by then, leaving only three non-conference dates available. The truth is, when it comes to Alabama, the Tide don’t really need to worry about strength of schedule in the playoff era when it comes to the selection committee. It’s Alabama.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 25, 2015 at 1:50 pm

      Fine by me especially if they move to a nine game conference schedule. But don’t get me wrong. I would have liked to see them play either way and I do find it a little cowardly. However if all you have to do is win the Sec to make the playoff now and because the games week to week are very difficult more so than in the other conferences I can totally understand why. Can you not? They play as many good teams if not more than most schools, so I ain’t tripping. Whether you like it or not it’s a business decision. But don’t get me wrong, I think it’s weak that they canceled it.

    • day
      February 25, 2015 at 2:41 pm

      People luv to use the word coward a lot on here, It is not like Alabama dropped the Michigan St to pick up Wofford. Bama picked up USC in 2016 & are in negotiations with FSU for 2017, still really big games plus better for recruiting & pay. I would have like to see the Michigan St series as well but like you said, business decisions do change, thing happens. Alabama is not the only one looking towards the future in what will be in their best interest.

    • Patrick Ryan
      February 25, 2015 at 2:47 pm

      Thanks for the info and appreciate the clarification. I don’t think they are cowards by any stretch of my imagination. Just my choice of words considering some people’s views, they like to twist my words. I mean scheduling teams like MSU, USC and FSU would give them as strong as schedule as there is in the nation in my opinion. They will have fun with that one Day. Haha what do you know about the Sec moving to a nine game conference schedule in the future or ACC?

    • day
      February 25, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      No word, it will happen one day eventually. The SEC & ACC as other conferences will do what is in their best interest for their teams & of course revenue. If something is not working then they will change, college football evolves like everything else.

  15. Patrick Ryan
    February 21, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Chad Kelley will be the Ole Miss Qb if he hasn’t been kicked off the team already. Haha He was a specific reason Clemson struggled this past season. We didn’t have a backup Qb…. Not making excuses. We should have had a better one. On us.

  16. Richard
    February 28, 2015 at 1:32 pm

    am I the only one who thinks NEBRASKA’s OOC should be in the top 5 on this list?!?!?

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