Ranking 2017 ‘Power 5’ Non-Conference Schedules

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Here’s my grade for each Power 5 conference based on the quality of its non-conference schedule. 


Courtesy: Athlon

The kickoff to the 2017-18 college football season is less than a month away. Let’s continue the never-ending debate about which of the Power 5 conferences is the strongest.

While the answer for this year will work itself out–culminating with ‘The Final Four’ in January–it’s also fair to say that one piece of the puzzle is available right now. It’s looking at which conferences will be most challenged in cross-conference play.

In this piece, I’ve broken down each conference’s non-league schedule. I do it by these categories: Top 5 Games, Toughest Team Schedule, Weakest Team Schedule, and Overall Conference Grade.

The conferences are listed alphabetically.

Atlantic Coast Conference

Top 5 Games

Alabama vs. Florida St. (Atlanta)
Auburn vs. Clemson
Pittsburgh vs. Penn St.
Notre Dame vs. Miami
Florida St. vs. Florida

Toughest Team Schedule

Florida St — vs. Alabama, LA-Monroe, Delaware St. @ Florida

Weakest Team Schedule

Miami — Bethune-Cookman, @ Arkansas St., Toledo, Notre Dame

ACC Grade: B-  This is what I like: conference schools are playing some of the Big Boys. What’s more, Clemson, Florida St. , Louisville, and Syracuse are playing SEC teams on the road. Well done!

Big Ten Conference

Top 5 Games

Oklahoma vs. Ohio St.
Florida vs. Michigan (Arlington)
Maryland vs. Texas
Nebraska vs. Oregon
Pittsburgh vs. Penn St.

Toughest Team Schedule

Purdue — Louisville, @ Ohio, @ Missouri

Weakest Team Schedule

Penn St. — Akron, Pittsburgh, Georgia St.

B1G Grade: C-  I expected more from the Big Ten! As a whole B1G didn’t do enough to make itself relevant scheduling-wise come January. But let me give a huge shout out to Purdue–the only team to play two ‘true’ non-league road games.

Big 12 Conference

Top 5 Games

West Virginia vs. Virginia Tech
Oklahoma vs. Ohio St.
TCU vs. Arkansas
Oklahoma St. vs. Pittsburgh
Texas vs. USC

Toughest Team Schedule

Texas — Maryland, San Jose St., @ USC

Weakest Team Schedule

Baylor — Liberty, UTSA, @ Duke

BIG 12 Grade: B-  For several years now, the BIG 12 has been trying to prove its worth. The conference didn’t hurt the brand this year–schools are playing Power 5 showdowns, several on the road. Now it’s a matter of winning some of those games.

PAC-12

Top 5 Games

Texas A&M vs. UCLA
Texas vs. USC
Nebraska vs. Oregon
Utah vs. BYU
USC vs. Notre Dame

Toughest Team Schedule

USC — Western Michigan, Texas, @ Notre Dame

Weakest Team Schedule

Colorado — Colorado St., Texas St., Northern Colorado

PAC-12 Grade: D-  I had a tough time finding five marquee games. The league is playing eight games against Power 5 non-league foes and only three of those games are on the road (Cal @ UNC, Arizona St. @ Texas Tech, and Washington @ Rutgers). Rutgers may not even count! As a whole, the PAC-12 has a horrible non-league schedule.

Southeastern Conference

Top 5 Games

Florida St. vs. Alabama (Atlanta)
Michigan vs. Florida (Arlington)
Texas A&M vs. UCLA
Georgia vs. Notre Dame
Auburn vs. Clemson

Toughest Team Schedule

Georgia — Appalachian St., @ Notre Dame, Samford, @ Georgia Tech

Weakest Team Schedule

Arkansas — Florida A&M, TCU, New Mexico, Coastal Carolina

SEC Grade: B-  I thought about bumping up this grade to A minus, but concluded that the SEC isn’t quite at that level. Yes, the SEC has scheduled some big-time games, but SEC teams will be playing ‘cupcake’ games, too–several against FCS opponents at home. But I will give kudos to Georgia. The Dawgs are the only SEC playing two non-conference road games against Power 5 teams.

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About Brian Trapani

Brian Trapani was born and raised in Central New Jersey and now lives in Monmouth County. As a kid, he played different sports but had a special love for baseball. Brian played the game through college. He got immediately into coaching after graduating and has been coaching in some capacity for the last 15 years. Brian currently coaches a middle school baseball team at a small school down the Jersey Shore. He also works as a Special Education Teacher. Beyond coaching, Brian loves all sports. He’ll watch any game at any time. His favorites are baseball (of course) and football. He also loves sharing his passion for sports through writing. Brian appreciates any and all feedback about his sportswriting, whether it’s positive or negative. Happy reading, sports fans! (Oh, almost forgot…. Brian is also a proud first-time uncle and godfather to a beautiful 7-month baby girl. :)



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