Sporting News has come out with it’s list of college football teams they feel have the easiest schedule in all of the land this coming season.
The good news for Penn State fans, Mississippi State is No. 1. The bad news? Penn State checks in at No. 2 on that list.
Interesting note, no other Big Ten school was put on this list. But there were two other SEC schools. You can make the case that the SEC schools don’t dare schedule thunder outside of the conference because they are too tough during the conference schedule, and that’s fair to a point.
I’m more so getting increasingly tired of which conference is the best out there. You don’t win any awards unless you A) win your conference title game and B) your bowl game, anyway.
And before anyone chimes in that “yeah but X or Y Big Ten school has so and so on its schedule,” let’s examine.
- Ohio State, among it’s non-con foes has Navy and USC. That makes up for Toledo and New Mexico State. And is better than anything Penn State has on its schedule.
- Illinois has arguably the toughest non-con slate in the conference with games against Missouri, at Cincinnati and hosting Fresno State, who is always tough no matter record or venue. They also mix in there Illinois State. Again, tougher anything Penn State has.
- Iowa doesn’t really have a lot of pop on its schedule either, but they are hosting Arizona toward the end of September. They open with Northern Iowa, at Iowa State and also tangle with Arkansas St. This would be comparable to Penn State’s schedule, if they didn’t have a BCS-Conference school in Arizona in there.
- Michigan State, much like Iowa, has little to write home about. Montana St., Central Michigan and Western Michigan, but they do travel to what should be an improved Notre Dame. Again, Notre Dame alone is better than any team PSU has on it’s non-con schedule.
- Michigan has two of the directional Michigans, plus Delaware State and also Notre Dame. All at home. This is probably the third worst non-con in the Big Ten, but again, Notre Dame is better than anything Penn State plays in its non-con slate.
- Wisconsin hosts Northern Illinois, Fresno State, Wofford (why?) and then a Dec. 5 trip to Hawaii, which is never an easy trip, or place to play. Fresno and Hawaii make this harder than PSU’s.
- Minnesota travels to Syracuse, hosts Air Force and California, and later South Dakota State. OK, so a common opponent of PSU, but Air Force and California are decent games. Again, no fault for putting a relatively even level BCS Conference school on the schedule (assuming Cal and Minnesota are mid-pack teams.)
You have to work your way down through the Big Ten all the way to
Northwestern to find something nearly even to PSU. The Wildcats are likely going to see the Top 25 before reality sets in later in the year with games against Towson, Eastern Michigan, at Syracuse and later Miami (Oh).
Even Purdue has dates with Notre Dame and at Oregon sandwiched between a couple of gimmes.
Indiana’s schedule stinks too if not for a trip at Virginia. They too have a date with Akron. And wins against Eastern Kentucky and Western Michigan to open the season, but Virginia is better alone than anything PSU has.
No one doubts that Penn State has the potential for another 11 win season based purely on some individual talent coming together. But one of the main reasons is the schedule.
The Nittany Lions are going to win-out in September including a rout over Iowa to close the month and the only two pot-holes on the schedule to me are at Illinois and the home date with Ohio State.
A possible trip spot is at Northwestern if the Wildcats ride momentum from an early winnable stretch.