June 3, 2007

Brennan, Hawaii could rack up stats

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At a Glance
A quick look at how Steve Megargee ranks the schedules, starting with the most difficult:
11. Northern Illinois 16. Central Michigan
12. Navy 17. Houston
13. Nevada 18. New Mexico
14. Middle Tennessee 19. Boise State
15. San Jose State 20. Hawaii
21. Ohio

Heisman Trophy candidate Colt Brennan gives Hawaii the look of a team that could earn a BCS bid.

Too bad the Warriors don't have the schedule of a BCS contender.

Hawaii has left open the possibility of scheduling a 13th game before the start of the season, but the Warriors' current list of opponents won't impress many pollsters.

The Warriors are scheduled to play two Division I-AA opponents (Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern) and only one school from a BCS conference (Washington). Western Athletic Conference rivals Boise State, San Jose State and Nevada are Hawaii's only Division I-A opponents that posted winning records last season.

Hawaii should be favored in every game it plays this year, but that kind of schedule could prevent the Warriors from earning a BCS at-large bid even if they go undefeated.

Although its status could change if it adds one more solid non-conference opponent, Hawaii currently has one of the easiest schedules of any of the 21 non-BCS conference teams that played in bowls last year.

We ranked these schedules in order from the hardest to the easiest. The 10 toughest schedules of the non-BCS conference teams that played in bowl last year were listed in a story that ran Saturday. Now we rate the rest of the schedules from 11 to 21.

11. Northern Illinois
Northern Illinois schedule
Date
Sept. 1
Sept. 8
Sept. 15
Sept. 22
Sept. 29
Oct. 6
Oct. 13
Oct. 20
Oct. 27
Nov. 10
Nov. 17
Nov. 24
Opponent
vs. Iowa
vs. Southern Illinois
vs. Eastern Michigan
at Idaho
at Central Michigan
at Temple
vs. Western Michigan
at Wisconsin
at Toledo
vs. Kent
at Navy
vs. Ball State
Why: Northern Illinois plays five 2006 bowl teams and only gets one of them (Western Michigan) to come to DeKalb. The Huskies also travel to Central Michigan, Wisconsin and Navy and play Iowa at Soldier Field in Chicago. The Huskies face Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Wisconsin during a four-week stretch midway through the season. The Huskies also should feast on two teams that went 1-11 last year (Eastern Michigan and Temple) plus Division I-AA program Southern Illinois.
Toughest game: Oct. 20 at Wisconsin: Northern Illinois can only hope to catch the Badgers napping one week after they play at Penn State.
Cakewalk: Oct. 6 at Temple: Even though the Huskies have to go on the road for this game, they shouldn't have much trouble beating a team that went 1-11 and lost six games by at least 34 points last season.
Trap game: Oct. 27 at Toledo: After playing Western Michigan and Wisconsin in back-to-back games, it will be interesting to see how much the Huskies have left for Toledo the following week.
Changes from last season: Northern Illinois exchanges Big Ten powers by facing Wisconsin instead of Ohio State this year. The Huskies' other schedule changes have Southern Illinois, Idaho, Kent State and Navy replacing Buffalo, Ohio, Indiana State and Miami (Ohio).
12. Navy
Navy schedule
Date
Aug. 30
Sept. 7
Sept. 15
Sept. 22
Sept. 29
Oct. 13
Oct. 20
Oct. 27
Nov. 3
Nov. 10
Nov. 17
Dec. 1
Opponent
at Temple
at Rutgers
vs. Ball State
vs. Duke
vs. Air Force
at Pittsburgh
vs. Wake Forest
vs. Delaware
at Notre Dame
at North Texas
vs. Northern Illinois
vs. Army
Why: The Midshipmen play three teams that won at least 10 games last season (Rutgers, Wake Forest and Notre Dame), but Northern Illinois is their only other opponent that had a winning record a year ago. Navy faces a I-AA program in Delaware and also plays Duke and Temple squads that combined to go 1-23 last year.
Toughest game: Sept. 7 at Rutgers: The Scarlet Knights beat Navy 34-0 on the road last year, so it's tough to imagine them having much trouble beating the Middies at home.
Cakewalk: Sept. 22 vs. Duke: The Blue Devils' winless season last year included a 38-13 home loss to the Midshipmen.
Trap game: Nov. 10 at North Texas: Navy heads to North Texas one week after its game at Notre Dame. The Middies should beat a Sun Belt team that went 3-9 last season, but they must avoid a letdown.
Changes from last season: Half of Navy's games are against teams they didn't face last year. Ball State, Pittsburgh, Wake Forest, Delaware, North Texas and Northern Illinois have replaced East Carolina, Massachusetts, Stanford, Tulsa, Connecticut and Eastern Michigan on the Middies' schedule.
13. Nevada
Nevada schedule
Date
Sept. 1
Sept. 8
Sept. 15
Sept. 29
Oct. 6
Oct. 14
Oct. 20
Oct. 27
Nov. 2
Nov. 17
Nov. 24
Dec. 1
Opponent
at Nebraska
at Northwestern
vs. Nicholls State
vs. Nevada-Las Vegas
vs. Fresno State
at Boise State
at Utah State
vs. Idaho
at New Mexico State
vs. Hawaii
at San Jose State
vs. Louisiana Tech
Why: Nevada has non-conference road games with Nebraska and Northwestern to go along with its matchups against Western Athletic Conference heavyweights Boise State and Hawaii. The Wolf Pack face only one other team (San Jose State) that had a winning record last year.
Toughest game: Sept. 1 at Nebraska: The Wolf Pack should be ready for just about anything they encounter the rest of the season after opening the year in one of college football's most hallowed venues.
Cakewalk: Sept. 15 vs. Nicholls State: Nevada opens its home schedule with a I-AA program that had a 4-7 record last year.
Trap game: Oct. 6 vs. Fresno State: The Bulldogs are coming off a down year, but their 4-8 record included a season-opening 28-19 victory over Nevada. The Wolf Pack could have an unhappy homecoming if they're looking ahead to the following week's game at Boise State.
Changes from last season: Nevada's non-conference schedule is slightly easier now that Nebraska and Nicholls State have replaced Arizona State and Colorado State. The Wolf Pack don't have to go to Hawaii this year, but they must make the trip to Boise State.
No. 14 Middle Tennessee
Middle Tennessee schedule
Date
Sept. 1
Sept. 6
Sept. 15
Sept. 20
Sept. 29
Oct. 6
Oct. 13
Oct. 20
Oct. 27
Nov. 3
Nov. 10
Nov. 20
Opponent
at Florida Atlantic
at Louisville
at Louisiana State
vs. W. Kentucky
vs. Fla. Int.
vs. Virginia
at Memphis
vs. Arkansas State
at North Texas
at La.-Monroe
vs. La.-Lafayette
at Troy
Why: Middle Tennessee is following the Troy strategy of scheduling attractive non-conference foes to make up for its weak Sun Belt schedule, but the Blue Raiders' list of non-league opponents isn't quite as powerful as the Murderer's Row that Troy is facing. Middle Tennessee will head to Louisville and LSU in September, but the Blue Raiders' other non-conference games (Virginia at home and Memphis on the road) aren't nearly as daunting.
Toughest game: Sept. 15 at Louisiana State: A Middle Tennessee team that ranked 104th in the nation in total offense could have trouble scoring against one of the nation's most potent defenses.
Cakewalk: Sept. 20 vs. Western Kentucky: While there are no certain victories on Middle Tennessee's schedule, you have to like the Blue Raiders' chances of winning their home opener against a team making the transition to I-A status.
Trap game: Oct. 13 at Memphis: This is the only road game Middle Tennessee faces during a five-week stretch, so the Blue Raiders will have to avoid coming out flat.
Changes from last season: Although the Blue Raiders added Louisiana State and also must travel to Louisville after facing the Cardinals in Nashville last year, this year's schedule overall is a bit easier. Middle Tennessee replaced Maryland, Oklahoma State, South Carolina and Tennessee Tech with Louisiana State, Western Kentucky, Virginia and Memphis.
No. 15 San Jose State
San Jose State schedule
Date
Sept. 1
Sept. 8
Sept. 15
Sept. 22
Sept. 29
Oct. 6
Oct. 12
Oct. 20
Nov. 3
Nov. 10
Nov. 17
Nov. 24
Opponent
at Arizona State
at Kansas State
at Stanford
at Utah State
vs. California-Davis
vs. Idaho
vs. Hawaii
at Fresno State
at Boise State
vs. New Mexico State
at Louisiana Tech
vs. Nevada
Why: San Jose State must travel to Boise State, but the Spartans' other two toughest WAC games (Hawaii and Nevada) are at home. The Spartans don't face any other Division I-A team that won more than seven games last year, though Arizona State and Kansas State both went 7-6 and could fare better this season. San Jose State could get off to a slow start because its first four games are on the road.
Toughest game: Nov. 3 at Boise State: The Broncos needed a late field goal to survive their trip to San Jose State last year, so they won't be looking past the Spartans.
Cakewalk: Sept. 29 vs. UC Davis: Although UC Davis has collected 37 consecutive winning seasons, any team coming off a bowl victory should be heavily favored against a Division I-AA program.
Trap game: Oct. 6 vs. Idaho: This game comes six days before the showdown with a potentially undefeated Hawaii team, so the Spartans can't get caught looking ahead.
Changes from last season: San Jose State's schedule gets a little tougher now that Arizona State, Kansas State and UC Davis have replaced Washington, Cal Poly and San Diego State.
No. 16 Central Michigan
Central Michigan schedule
Date
Sept. 1
Sept. 8
Sept. 15
Sept. 22
Sept. 29
Oct. 6
Oct. 13
Oct. 20
Oct. 27
Nov. 6
Nov. 17
Nov. 23
Opponent
at Kansas
vs. Toledo
at Purdue
vs. North Dakota State
vs. Northern Illinois
at Ball State
vs. Army
at Clemson
at Kent
at Western Michigan
vs. Eastern Michigan
at Akron
Why: The Chippewas don't face a Division I-A team that won more than eight games last year. Central Michigan does have some tricky non-conference road games with Clemson, Purdue and Kansas. The Chippewas also go on the road for four of their last five games.
Toughest game: Oct. 20 at Clemson: Northern Illinois star Garrett Wolfe rushed for 203 yards against Central Michigan last season. How many yards might the dynamic duo of James Davis and C.J. Spiller gain against the Chippewas?
Cakewalk: Nov. 16 vs. Eastern Michigan: The only I-AA team on Central Michigan's schedule North Dakota State went 10-1 last year with a victory over Ball State and a one-point loss to Minnesota. We figure the Chippewas will have an easier time with Eastern Michigan, a Mid-American Conference team that went 1-11 last season.
Trap game: Oct. 27 at Kent State: This MAC contest is sandwiched between meetings against Clemson and Western Michigan as part of a three-game road trip.
Changes from last season: Half of Central Michigan's 2007 opponents are teams they didn't face last year. Kansas, Purdue, North Dakota State, Army, Clemson and Kent State have replaced Boston College, Michigan, Kentucky, Bowling Green, Temple and Buffalo on the Chippewas' schedule.
No. 17 Houston
Houston schedule
Date
Sept. 1
Sept. 15
Sept. 22
Sept. 29
Oct. 6
Oct. 13
Oct. 20
Oct. 27
Nov. 4
Nov. 10
Nov. 17
Nov. 24
Opponent
at Oregon
at Tulane
vs. Colorado State
vs. East Carolina
at Alabama
vs. Rice
at UAB
at Texas-El Paso
vs. Southern Methodist
at Tulsa
vs. Marshall
vs. Texas Southern
Why: Houston doesn't play any team that won more than eight games last year, though we're guessing non-conference foes Oregon (7-6 in 2006) and Alabama (6-7) will play much better this season. Only four of Houston's opponents are coming off winning seasons.
Toughest game: Sept. 1 at Oregon: The Cougars will be playing in one of college football's more intimidating venues and must prepare for first-year Oregon offensive coordinator Chip Kelly, who engineered one of the most potent Division I-AA offenses in the nation at New Hampshire.
Cakewalk: Nov. 24 vs. Texas Southern: Houston shouldn't have much of a problem winning this city rivalry against a Division I-AA program.
Trap game: Sept. 15 at Tulane: The Cougars will have to avoid looking ahead to their home opener with Colorado State the following week.
Changes from last season: Oregon, Colorado State, Alabama and Texas Southern replace Grambling, Oklahoma State, Miami and Louisiana-Lafayette on Houston's non-conference schedule. Southern Mississippi, UCF and Memphis move off Houston's Conference USA slate in favor of East Carolina, Alabama-Birmingham and Marshall.
No. 18 New Mexico
New Mexico schedule
Date
Sept. 1
Sept. 8
Sept. 15
Sept. 22
Sept. 29
Oct. 13
Oct. 20
Oct. 25
Nov. 3
Nov. 10
Nov. 17
Nov. 24
Opponent
at Texas-El Paso
vs. New Mexico State
at Arizona
vs. Sacramento State
vs. Brigham Young
at Wyoming
at San Diego State
vs. Air Force
at Texas Christian
vs. Colorado State
at Utah
vs. Nevada-Las Vegas
Why: New Mexico has to battle the three Mountain West heavyweights (Texas Christian, Brigham Young and Utah), but the Lobos don't face any other team that had a winning record last year.
Toughest game: Nov. 3 at Texas Christian: New Mexico ranked 94th out of 119 Division I-A teams in rushing offense last year, while Texas Christian had the nation's second-ranked run defense.
Cakewalk: Sept. 22 vs. Sacramento State: This Division I-AA team went 4-7 last year and lost 45-0 to Boise State in its only game against a I-A program.
Trap game: Nov. 10 vs. Colorado State: This home game is sandwiched between road trips to Texas Christian and Utah.
Changes from last season: Arizona and Sacramento State replace Portland State and Missouri, which shouldn't affect this schedule's degree of difficulty.
No. 19: Boise State
Boise State schedule
Date
Aug. 30
Sept. 8
Sept. 15
Sept. 27
Oct. 7
Oct. 14
Oct. 20
Oct. 26
Nov. 3
Nov. 10
Nov. 17
Nov. 23
Opponent
vs. Weber State
at Washington
vs. Wyoming
vs. Southern Miss.
vs. New Mexico State
vs. Nevada
at Louisiana Tech
at Fresno State
vs. San Jose State
at Utah State
vs. Idaho
at Hawaii
Why: Boise State faces only one team from a BCS conference (Washington). The showdown with Hawaii to close the season marks the only time all year the Broncos go on the road to face a team that had a winning record last year.
Toughest game: Nov. 23 at Hawaii: Don't be surprised if this game determines the Western Athletic Conference champion. If each team enters this game unbeaten, a BCS bid also could be at stake.
Cakewalk: Aug. 30 vs. Weber State: The reigning Fiesta Bowl champions open the season against a Division I-AA team that went 3-7 last year. Weber State lost 30-6 to Colorado State in its only game against a I-A opponent last season.
Trap game: Oct. 26 at Fresno State: You have to think the Bulldogs are eager to redeem themselves after a rare down year. A victory over Boise State would be an ideal way to show the nation that Fresno State has returned to form.
Changes from last season: Boise State's non-conference schedule doesn't seem as tough now that Weber State, Washington and Southern Mississippi have replaced Sacramento State, Oregon State and Utah. The Broncos' WAC schedule is more demanding this year because they have to go to Hawaii instead of welcoming the Warriors to Boise.
No. 20 Hawaii
Hawaii schedule
Date
Sept. 1
Sept. 8
Sept. 15
Sept. 22
Sept. 29
Oct. 6
Oct. 12
Oct. 27
Nov. 10
Nov. 17
Nov. 23
Dec. 1
Opponent
vs. Northern Colorado
at Louisiana Tech
at Nevada-Las Vegas
vs. Charl. So.
at Idaho
vs. Utah State
at San Jose State
vs. New Mexico State
vs. Fresno State
at Nevada
vs. Boise State
vs. Washington
Why: Two of Hawaii's three non-conference games are against Division I-AA teams (Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern). Hawaii should be favored in every game it plays this year, including the Nov. 23 showdown with Boise State. Hawaii will have to be careful to avoid an upset in games at San Jose State and Nevada, which both played in bowl games last year.
Toughest game: Nov. 23 vs. Boise State: Colt Brennan threw five touchdown passes against Boise State last year, but the Warriors still lost 42-34 at Boise. Will the home-field advantage make the difference?
Cakewalk: Sept. 1 vs. Northern Colorado: This Division I-AA team went 1-10 last year without playing a single I-A program. Only a 14-13 squeaker over Texas State prevented the Bears from going winless.
Trap game: Nov. 16 at Nevada: Hawaii must be careful to avoid a letdown the week before its showdown with Boise State. Nevada lost 41-34 at Hawaii last year and came within a point of Miami in the MPC Computers Bowl.
Changes from last season: Hawaii currently has a 12-game schedule after playing 13 regular-season games last year, but school officials have discussed the possibility of adding one more game. There's no question the Warriors have a much lighter schedule this year. Northern Colorado, Charleston Southern and Washington have replaced Alabama, Eastern Illinois, Purdue and Oregon State as non-conference foes. Hawaii also gets Boise State at home after making the trip north last year.
No. 21 Ohio
Ohio schedule
Date
Sept. 1
Sept. 8
Sept. 15
Sept. 22
Sept. 29
Oct. 6
Oct. 13
Oct. 20
Oct. 27
Nov. 2
Nov. 7
Nov. 24
Opponent
vs. Gardner-Webb
at La.-Lafayette
at Virginia Tech
vs. Wyoming
vs. Kent
at Buffalo
vs. Eastern Michigan
at Toledo
at Bowling Green
vs. Temple
at Akron
vs. Miami (Ohio)
Why: Ohio's Sept. 15 game at Virginia Tech marks the only time all year that the Bobcats will face a team that had a winning record last season. Eastern Michigan, Temple, Buffalo and Miami (Ohio) posted a combined record of 6-42 last season. Ohio found a way to schedule all four of them.
Toughest game: Sept. 15 vs. Virginia Tech: Is there any other reasonable choice?
Cakewalk: Sept. 1 vs. Gardner-Webb: This will mark the first time Gardner-Webb has ever faced a Division I-A program.
Trap game: Sept. 22 vs. Wyoming: What will Ohio have left for the Cowboys after facing Virginia Tech a week earlier?
Changes from last season: Gardner-Webb, Louisiana-Lafayette, Virginia Tech, Wyoming, Toledo and Temple replace Tennessee-Martin, Northern Illinois, Rutgers, Missouri, Western Michigan and Illinois on the Bobcats' regular-season schedule. Ohio also isn't scheduled to face Central Michigan, which defeated the Bobcats in last year's Mid-American Conference championship game.

More: ACC | Big Ten | Big 12 | Big East | SEC | Pac-10 | Non-BCS I | Ultimate Road Trip

Steve Megargee is a national writer for Rivals.com. He can be reached at smegargee@rivals.com.



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