College football’s toughest nonconference schedules


It is price noting that two of the 4 groups that made the School Soccer Playoff final season, Clemson and Georgia, every performed two nonconference video games towards Energy 5 opponents.

In reality, Clemson performed Auburn and South Carolina, each of which had been ranked within the CFP choice committee’s rankings going into the ultimate week of the common season, and Georgia performed each of its video games on the street — at Notre Dame and at Georgia Tech. And CFP participant Oklahoma performed at Ohio State and gained handily.

So possibly difficult nonconference schedules do matter.

With that in thoughts, we have ranked the 10 hardest nonconference schedules for Energy 5 groups in 2018, and we have not utterly forgotten concerning the Group of 5 groups. A giant shoutout to Florida Atlantic, Louisiana and SMU. Lane Kiffin’s Owls play at Oklahoma and at UCF. Billy Napier’s Ragin’ Cajuns play at Alabama and at Mississippi State, and Sonny Dykes’ Mustangs play TCU at residence after which at Michigan in back-to-back weeks.

However so far as the 10 hardest Energy 5 nonconference schedules, solely three of the 5 leagues are represented. The Huge Ten and SEC are noticeably absent. The ACC leads the best way with 4 of the highest 5 hardest slates out of convention and 5 of the highest 10. The Pac-12 is true on the ACC’s heels with 4 of the 10, and Texas is the lone Huge 12 consultant.

Here is how we ranked them:

1. Pittsburgh
Sept. 1 vs. Albany, Sept. eight vs. Penn State, Sept. 29 at UCF, Oct. 13 at Notre Dame

The highest spot was a no brainer. The Panthers are the one Energy 5 group to face three nonconference groups ranked in Mark Schlabach’s newest Manner-Too-Early-High 25, together with No. 12 Notre Dame and No. 18 UCF on the street. The journeys to South Bend and Orlando are a part of a stretch that features three street journeys in 4 weeks for Pitt, which additionally travels to face ACC foe North Carolina on Sept. 22. That is to not point out a house sport with No. 13 Penn State the second week of the season.

2. USC
Sept. 1 vs. UNLV, Sept. 15 at Texas, Nov. 24 vs. Notre Dame

Similar to a 12 months in the past, the Trojans tackle two of school soccer’s most storied applications out of convention. They journey to No. 22 Texas the third week of the season, approaching the heels of the Pac-12 opener on the street at Stanford. Speak about a grueling two-game street journey. USC then ends the common season with a house date towards No. 12 Notre Dame, which thrashed the Trojans 49-14 final season in South Bend.

three. Florida State
Sept. eight vs. Samford, Sept. 22 vs. Northern Illinois, Nov. 10 at Notre Dame, Nov. 24 vs. Florida

The again half of the season for the Seminoles will definitely check their resolve. The street journey to No. 12 Notre Dame comes after back-to-back video games towards Clemson and North Carolina State, and means FSU can be on the street in successive weeks towards NC State and Notre Dame. And two weeks after visiting South Bend, the Seminoles get archrival Florida at residence at a time when the Gators must be discovering their groove offensively below first-year coach Dan Mullen. Throw in Northern Illinois with a defensive entrance that must be nasty and Willie Taggart has a significant enterprise outdoors the league in his first season in Tallahassee.

four. Clemson
Sept. 1 vs. Furman, Sept. eight at Texas A&M, Sept. 15 vs. Georgia Southern, Nov. 24 vs. South Carolina

One of many extra fascinating September nonconference clashes nationally comes that second week when Clemson heads to School Station to tackle a well-recognized face — Jimbo Fisher, in his first season as Texas A&M’s head coach. The Aggies are ranked No. 23 coming into the season, and Clemson will shut the common season with its annual grudge match towards archrival South Carolina, which is ranked No. 25. This must be Will Muschamp’s greatest group since taking on the Gamecocks program.

5. Georgia Tech
Sept. 1 vs. Alcorn State, Sept. eight at South Florida, Sept. 29 vs. Bowling Inexperienced, Nov. 24 at Georgia

A number of ACC groups face difficult nonconference slates, and Georgia Tech cracks the highest 5 thanks to 2 true street video games. The Yellow Jackets play at South Florida the second week of the season, and despite the fact that the Bulls are dropping star quarterback Quinton Flowers, Charlie Sturdy’s membership is not missing for expertise. Georgia Tech closes the common season towards in-state rival Georgia, which performed within the nationwide championship sport a 12 months in the past and enters the 2018 season ranked No. four.

6. Arizona State
Sept. 1 vs. UTSA, Sept. eight vs. Michigan State, Sept. 15 at San Diego State

There wasn’t a number of distinction in a number of the Pac-12’s hardest nonconference schedules, however Arizona State claimed the highest spot due to its residence matchup with No. 9 Michigan State the second week of the season after which a street sport the very subsequent week towards San Diego State. Rocky Lengthy’s Aztecs have gained 10-plus video games for 3 straight seasons, and despite the fact that Rashaad Penny is now not round, junior working again Juwan Washington presents his personal set of issues for ASU.

7. Stanford
Aug. 31 vs. San Diego State, Sept. 15 vs. UC Davis, Sept. 29 at Notre Dame

The Cardinal open the season towards San Diego State, however it helps that the sport is at residence. It is a Friday contest, after which the following week, Stanford will get USC at residence. So David Shaw’s membership will should be sharp early. There will not be something simple concerning the month of September for Stanford, which misplaced to each San Diego State and USC a 12 months in the past to begin 1-2. The Cardinal shut out September with a street sport at No. 12 Notre Dame after enjoying at No. 24 Oregon the week earlier than.

eight. Texas
Sept. 1 vs. Maryland in Landover, Maryland, Sept. eight vs. Tulsa, Sept. 15 vs. USC

The hardest nonconference schedule within the Huge 12 belongs to Texas, which seems to enhance on final season’s 7-6 end in what was Tom Herman’s first season in Austin. The Longhorns open the season towards what must be an improved Maryland group at FedEx Subject. It is an 11 a.m. CT kickoff, which isn’t simple for a group touring midway throughout the nation. Two weeks later, Texas takes on No. 17 USC at residence. The 2 groups performed a double-overtime basic final season, with the Trojans pulling out a 27-24 win.

9. Louisville
Sept. 1 vs. Alabama in Orlando, Sept. eight vs. Indiana State, Sept. 15 vs. Western Kentucky, Nov. 24 vs. Kentucky

Any nonconference slate with Alabama on it’s all the time a load. The Cardinals tackle the No. 1 Crimson Tide in Orlando to open the season, and Nick Saban has misplaced just one regular-season sport to a nonconference opponent whereas at Alabama, and that was in 2007, his first season, to Florida State. The Sept. 15 sport towards Western Kentucky may very well be tough, after which there’s the regular-season finale towards bitter rival Kentucky, which returns 18 starters.

10. UCLA
Sept. 1 vs. Cincinnati, Sept. eight at Oklahoma, Sept. 15 vs. Fresno State

The Chip Kelly period in Westwood kicks off with what must be an fascinating first few weeks of the season. Looming massive is that journey to No. 5 Oklahoma the second week of the season. The Bruins open towards Cincinnati at residence. However proper after tangling with the Sooners on the street, UCLA returns residence to face Fresno State, which gained 10 video games a 12 months in the past in Jeff Tedford’s first season and may once more be a participant within the Mountain West Convention. The Bruins additionally play at Colorado after which are residence towards No. 6 Washington of their first 5 video games.

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