June 11, 2007

Rivals.com's Top 25 2007 Schedules

Washington probably won't earn a BCS invitation this season, but the Huskies could play a major role in deciding which teams are still playing after New Year's Day.

The Huskies' schedule includes defending Rose Bowl champion Southern California, Fiesta Bowl champion Boise State and BCS championship game loser Ohio State. Washington closes the regular season at Hawaii, a Western Athletic Conference team earning plenty of preseason BCS buzz.

Add up Washington's challenging Pac-10 competition with a brutal non-conference slate and you have the nation's toughest schedule.

Washington doesn't have a single Division I-AA opponent on its schedule and faces only two teams (Syracuse and Stanford) that had losing records last season. The Huskies' schedule includes nine teams that played in bowl games last season and six schools that won at least 10 games a year ago.

While a Pac-10 team tops our list of the nation's 25 toughest schedules, the Southeastern Conference dominates the rest of the chart with five representatives in the top 10. Even though many of the SEC schools don't play strong non-conference opponents, the strength of the league itself makes their schedules among the toughest in college football.

1. Washington Huskies
Washington Schedule
Date Opponent
Aug. 31 at Syracuse
Sept. 8 Boise State
Sept. 15 Ohio State
Sept. 22 at UCLA
Sept. 29 Southern Cal
Oct. 13 at Arizona State
Oct. 20 Oregon
Oct. 27 Arizona
Nov. 3 at Stanford
Nov. 10 at Oregon State
Nov. 17 California
Nov. 24 Washington State
Dec. 1 at Hawaii
Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 105-62 (.629)
Bowl teams: Nine
Home games: Seven
Teams that finished last year in the Associated Press Top 25: Five (four at home). Hawaii was a USA Today Top 25 team but didn't make the final AP poll.
Division I-AA opponents:None.
Why they're No. 1: An injury to quarterback Isaiah Stanback was probably the only thing that kept Washington out of the postseason last year, but it's tough to imagine the Huskies earning a bowl bid after facing this murderous schedule. No other school on this list faces more teams that played in bowl games last year. No team from a BCS conference has a non-conference schedule that even compares to the list of opponents Washington will face from outside the Pac-10. Washington opens with an always-tricky trip to the Carrier Dome. The Huskies better beat Syracuse because three of their next four opponents (Boise State, Ohio State and Southern California) played in BCS games last season. The only game on this schedule that looks like a breather is Stanford, until you realize Washington was the only team the Cardinal beat last season.
2. South Carolina Gamecocks
South Carolina Schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 1 La.-Lafayette
Sept. 8 at Georgia
Sept. 15 S. Carolina St.
Sept. 22 at LSU
Sept. 29 Miss. State
Oct. 4 Kentucky
Oct. 13 at North Carolina
Oct. 20 Vanderbilt
Oct. 27 at Tennessee
Nov. 3 at Arkansas
Nov. 10 Florida
Nov. 24 Clemson
Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 84-57 (.596)
Bowl teams: Seven
Home games: Seven
AP Top 25 teams: Five (one at home)
Division I-AA teams: One
Why they're No. 2: The Southeastern Conference features so many tough teams that its members dominate this list, but South Carolina's schedule is the toughest in the league. The Gamecocks must face Georgia, Louisiana State, Tennessee and Arkansas - all on the road. By the time the Gamecocks finally return home for good, they must welcome defending national champion Florida and rival Clemson in a pair of emotionally charged games. Steve Spurrier appears to have the Gamecocks on the verge of contention in the Southeastern Conference Eastern Division, but he could have a hard time challenging for a title this year because the schedule is so demanding.
3. Florida State Seminoles
Florida State Schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 3 at Clemson
Sept. 8 UAB
Sept. 15 at Colorado
Sept. 29 Alabama
Oct. 6 N.C. State
Oct. 11 at Wake Forest
Oct. 20 Miami (Fla.)
Oct. 27 Duke
Nov. 3 at Boston College
Nov. 10 at Virginia Tech
Nov. 17 Maryland
Nov. 24 at Florida
Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 82-72 (.532)
Bowl teams: Eight
Home games: Five (not including Alabama at Jacksonville)
Division I-AA opponents: None
AP Top 25 teams: Four (one at home)
Why they're No. 3: In an era when most big-time programs try to schedule at least seven home games, Florida State will play just five times at Doak Campbell Stadium. The Seminoles' demanding road schedule includes trips to Clemson, Boston College, Virginia Tech and Florida. Although the Seminoles face Alabama close to home in Jacksonville, we're expecting at least half the spectators to root for the Crimson Tide. Florida State also was the rare BCS team that didn't schedule a Division I-AA opponent. Critics might point to the relatively weak combined 2006 record of Florida State's opponents, but we're assuming Miami and Alabama will bounce back from disappointing seasons.
4. Michigan State Spartans
Michigan State Schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 1 UAB
Sept. 8 Bowling Green
Sept. 15 Pittsburgh
Sept. 22 at Notre Dame
Sept. 29 at Wisconsin
Oct. 6 Northwestern
Oct. 13 Indiana
Oct. 20 at Ohio State
Oct. 27 at Iowa
Nov. 3 Michigan
Nov. 10 at Purdue
Nov. 17 Penn State
Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 90-62 (.592)
Bowl teams: Seven
Home games: Seven
Division I-AA opponents: None
AP Top 25 teams: Five (two at home)
Why they're No. 4: Although Big Ten teams don't face a round-robin conference schedule, the Spartans will have to face all four of the conference's top teams (Ohio State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State). The schedule also isn't arranged in the most favorable pattern. The Spartans make trips to Notre Dame and Wisconsin on back-to-back weeks in September. They also end the regular season with five games against teams that played in bowls last season.
5. Auburn Tigers
Auburn Schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 1 Kansas State
Sept. 8 South Florida
Sept. 15 Mississippi State
Sept. 22 New Mexico St.
Sept. 29 at Florida
Oct. 6 Vanderbilt
Oct. 13 at Arkansas
Oct. 20 at LSU
Oct. 27 Ole Miss
Nov. 3 Tennessee Tech
Nov. 10 at Georgia
Nov. 24 Alabama
Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 80-61 (.567)
Bowl teams: Seven
Home games: Eight
Division I-AA teams: One
AP Top 25 teams: Four (none at home)
Why they're No. 5: What Auburn's road schedule lacks in quantity, it makes up for in quality. The Tigers' four away games this season are all against teams that finished in the Top 25 last season: Arkansas, Louisiana State, Georgia and defending national champion Florida. Auburn doesn't rank higher on this list because the Tigers should benefit from playing eight home games, including a I-AA opponent (Tennessee Tech) and a second-tier Western Athletic Conference team (New Mexico State).

More Top 25 Schedules: Nos. 6-10 | Nos. 11-15 | Nos. 16-20 | Nos. 21-25

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


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