April 14, 2008

Non-conference slates continue to weaken

MORE: Dandy Dozen: Best non-conferemce games | Dirty Dozen: Worst non-conferemce games

It's time to face facts: College basketball is over and we're 135 days away from the first college football game of the season.

In other words, it's time to panic. Now you have to spend time with your family, read a book, clean out the garage, do yard work or focus more intently on your job.

But we're here to help. It might be four-plus months away from the start of the football season, but that doesn't mean it's too early to start breaking down 2008 schedules.

Today, we're breaking down each league. Tuesday, we'll look at the 12 most embarrassing non-conference games of the season. Wednesday, we'll look at the 12 best non-conference games of the season. We agree that it might be a tad early to look four-plus months down the road. But given the alternative

Two things: First, we will be referring to games against "Division I-AA" teams even though the NCAA now refers to that division as the "Football Championship Subdivision." Given that the NCAA has far more important matters to worry about than changing the nomenclature of its football divisions, we still use the "I-AA" moniker as a sort of silent protest. Second, while Notre Dame isn't a member of a "Big Six" league, we are including the Irish when we talk about "Big Six" schools.

Here's a league-by-league look at each league's non-conference schedules.

THE "BIG SIX" LEAGUES

INSIDE THE SCHEDULES
"BIG SIX" VS. I-AA GAMES
2008: 51 games
2007: 41 games
2006: 47 games
2005: 31 games
NOTE: Starting in 2006, teams were allowed to play 12 regular-season games.
PLAYING AT LEAST 3 "BIG SIXERS"
Central Michigan
*Connecticut (3)

East Carolina (4)
Florida International (3)
Florida Atlantic (3)
Fresno State (3)
Hawaii (4)
Louisiana-Monroe (3)
Marshall (3)
Middle Tennessee (4)
Navy (5)
*Notre Dame (10)
Troy (3)
UCF (3)
*USC (3)
*Syracuse (3)
*Wake Forest (3)
Western Kentucky (4)
PLAYING TWO I-AA TEAMS
*Clemson
*Florida State
*Georgia Tech
*Texas Tech
Western Kentucky
PLAYING NO "BIG-SIXERS"
Air Force
*Arizona
*Indiana
*LSU
*Minnesota
*Texas Tech
*Wisconsin
NOTES: This is the third season in a row Texas Tech is on this list. This is the second season in a row for Arizona, Indiana and Minnesota. It's the second time in three seasons for Wisconsin.
TEAMS WITH EIGHT HOME GAMES
*Indiana
*Louisville
*LSU
*Nebraska
NOTE: Last season, there were eight teams with eight home games, and four of those were from the SEC, two from the Pac-10, one from the Big Ten and one from the Big East.
TEAMS WITH FIVE HOME GAMES
Akron
Arkansas State
Bowling Green
Central Michigan
Eastern Michigan
FAU
FIU
Fresno State
Kent State
Louisiana-Lafayette
Louisiana-Monroe
Middle Tennessee
Navy
North Texas
Ohio U.
Troy
*Stanford
Temple
Western Kentucky
Western Michigan
NOTE: Last season, there were 22 teams with five home games, with two of those (Duke and Florida State) from "Big Six" leagues.
NON-"BIG SIXERS" HOSTING "BIG SIXERS"
Vanderbilt at Miami University, Aug. 28
Mississippi State at Louisiana Tech, Aug. 30
Minnesota at Bowling Green, Sept. 6
West Virginia at East Carolina, Sept. 6
Maryland at Middle Tennessee, Sept. 6
Texas Tech at Nevada, Sept. 6
Texas A&M at New Mexico, Sept. 6
Connecticut at Temple, Sept. 6
USF at UCF, Sept. 6
Texas at UTEP, Sept. 6
UCLA at BYU, Sept. 13
Wisconsin at Fresno State, Sept. 13
Arizona at New Mexico, Sept. 13
Stanford at TCU, Sept. 13
USF at Florida International, Sept. 20
Iowa State at UNLV, Sept. 20
Cincinnati at Akron, Sept. 27
Oregon State at Utah, Oct. 2
Cincinnati at Marshall, Oct. 3
Louisville at Memphis, Oct. 10
Washington State at Hawaii, Nov. 29
Cincinnati at Hawaii, Dec. 6

* signifies member of "Big Six" league
ACC: The league gets the ignominious honor of being the league whose members are playing the most games against Division I-AA opponents, with 14. Every league team except Wake Forest is playing a I-AA foe, and shame, shame Clemson, Florida State and Georgia Tech are playing two each. The flipside is that the ACC gets to boast that its members are playing far more non-conference games against "Big Six" schools than any other "Big Six" league, with 23. Every league school is playing at least one such opponent. Nine of the 12 league members all but Boston College, Maryland and Virginia Tech are playing at least two such games, and Wake Forest and North Carolina are playing three.

Big East: There are seven non-conference games against I-AA members, with each league school expect for Pittsburgh playing one such game. The Big East is second among "Big Six" leagues with 16 non-conference games against fellow "Big Six" members. Each league member has one such game, and Connecticut and Syracuse have three each. Louisville is one of just four schools nationally with eight home games this season.

Big Ten: League members have nine games against I-AA schools, with all but Michigan, Michigan State and Purdue partaking. Big Ten teams are playing just 13 non-conference games against "Big Six" schools the lowest total among all the conferences. Indiana, Minnesota and Wisconsin are playing zero non-conference games against "Big Six" programs. Of note: Big Ten teams are playing 13 games against MAC schools, with each league team except Iowa playing one and Indiana, Michigan and Minnesota playing two each. Indiana also is one of the four schools nationally with eight home games this season.

Big 12: There are 10 games against I-AA teams. Each league team has at least one of those Texas Tech has two except for Nebraska, Texas and Texas A&M. There also are 15 games against other "Big Six" programs; every league school has at least one except for Texas Tech. Baylor has three such games. Nebraska is the only Big 12 school with eight home games this season.

Pac-10: Give it up for the Pac-10, which has just two games against I-AA opposition, by far the lowest of any league. (Arizona State and Washington State are the only league teams playing I-AA foes.) There also are 14 games against other "Big Six" schools; every league team except Arizona is playing at least one and USC is playing three. Of note: Stanford is the only "Big Six" school with just five home games this season.

SEC: There are nine games against I-AA foes, with each league team except for Alabama, Tennessee and Vanderbilt playing one such game. There are 15 games against other "Big Six" opponents, with each league school playing at least one such game except for LSU. LSU also is one of the schools with eight home games in '08.

THE OTHER LEAGUES

Conference USA: The league has seven games against I-AA opponents and 23 against "Big Six" foes. Each of the league's 12 schools has at least one game against a "Big Six" foe, with East Carolina having four and Marshall and UCF three each. ECU, Marshall, Memphis, UCF and UTEP each have one home game against a "Big Six" opponent.

Mid-American: There are eight games against I-AA opponents. But the MAC can crow about its 28 games against "Big Six" programs, the most of any league (13 of those are against Big Ten schools). Four of those 28 will be on MAC campuses at Akron, Bowling Green, Miami and Temple. But eight of the 13 league members have just five home games: Akron, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan, Kent State, Ohio University, Temple and Western Michigan.

Mountain West: There are seven games against I-AA schools, with each MWC team except New Mexico and UNLV playing one such game. There are 14 games against "Big Six" schools, with every league school involved in at least one except Air Force. Six of those "Big Six" opponents will be playing on a MWC campus, with New Mexico playing host to two such opponents and BYU, TCU, UNLV and Utah playing host to one each.

Sun Belt: There are five games against I-AA opponents, with provisional member Western Kentucky playing two of those. There also are 26 games against "Big Six" members, the second-most of any league. Each Sun Belt team is playing at least two "Big Six" opponents; Middle Tennessee and Western Kentucky are playing four each, and Florida International, Florida Atlantic, Louisiana-Monroe and Troy are playing three each. Each of the league's nine members have just five home games, with FIU and Middle Tennessee the only league schools playing host to a "Big Six" member (USF is at FIU and Maryland is at MTSU).

Western Athletic: There are seven games against I-AA schools, with Fresno State and Utah State the only WAC schools not involved in such a game. There also are 17 games against "Big Six" members, with every league school playing at least one such game; Hawaii has four and Fresno three. Hawaii has two home games against "Big Six" schools, and Fresno, Louisiana Tech and Nevada have one each. In all, though, Fresno has just five home games this season.

Independents: Army and Navy each play one game against I-AA schools. Those two plus Notre Dame will play 17 games against "Big Six" opponents, with Army playing two, Navy five and Notre Dame 10. Navy has just five home games.

MORE: Dandy Dozen: Best non-conferemce games | Dirty Dozen: Worst non-conferemce games

It's time to face facts: College basketball is over and we're 135 days away from the first college football game of the season.

Mike Huguenin is the college sports editor for Rivals.com. He can be reached at mhuguenin@rivals.com.




 

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