College football has become obsessed with three little words over the last few years; strength of schedule. Regardless of how tough your conference is, if you line up a bunch of cupcakes for your non-conference slate, you’re going to get frowned upon. Just ask Baylor.
I’m not exactly sure that who they played in week one, two, and three had much to do with Ohio State being selected over Baylor (or TCU for that matter) for the first College Football Playoff, but who you schedule in your non-conference matters. Even if only to take away one more excuse to pick one logo over another, it matters.
So much so that schools across the country are lining up home-and-home series with power five schools one after another. TCU for example has future games scheduled with Minnesota, Arkansas, Ohio State, California, Colorado, and Stanford. However, according to ESPN, the Horned Frogs have just the 28th strongest non-con schedule of power five schools over the next five years.
Sharon Katz with ESPN put together a report ranking the power five school’s non-conference schedules over the next five years. You’ll need and ESPN Insider account to read the full story, but it’s worth the read.
Of course things change every year, and no one knows just how good or bad a team will be multiple years out. Using fancy math, trends, and FPI though, they’ve got a pretty good guess.
So who has the nation’s strongest upcoming non-con schedule? Interestingly enough, a school that doesn’t have a logo problem, Texas.
The Longhorns will open the 2015 season in spectacular fashion against Notre Dame, with games against Rice and California to follow. They also have games scheduled in the near future against USC, Maryland, and LSU.
As strong as the Longhorns’ schedule is, Baylor’s is equally bad. Games against SMU, Rice, and a couple of FCS schools are going to do little to hush the doubters. The Bears are clearly embracing the strategy of win and you’re in, but as long as there are five power conferences and just four spots to fill, it’s a risky move to give the powers at be a reason to say no.
Here’s a look at how the Big 12 schools stack up to each other. To check out the full rankings and to see how the conference compares to the other four power conferences be sure to check out the ESPN report.
Who do you think has the better scheduling strategy, Texas or Baylor? Let us know in the comments!
|ESPN’s Non-Conference Schedule Ranking For Next 5 Seasons (Big 12 Schools)|
|22||West Virginia Mountaineers||40.1|
|25||Texas Tech Red Raiders||39.9|
|28||TCU Horned Frogs||38.4|
|52||Oklahoma State Cowboys||30.6|
|57||Iowa State Cyclones||29.0|
|62||Kansas State Wildcats||27.1|