There has been a lot of talk lately about how with the BCS, college programs are looking to go the easier route with their out of conference scheduling. Some teams claim that their conference schedule is hard enough and they just want to have a few cupcakes on their schedule, while other claim they need the 7 or 8 home games a year to fund the rest of their sports. I did a quick glance and found a few schools that should be proud of their scheduling.
In the Pac 10, a move was made a few years ago, once the 12th game was added, to play 9 conference games. Therefore, that leaves only 3 games on the out of conference slate to fill in. Both USC and Oregon filled them up with some quality opponents. The Trojans have their yearly tilt at the end of the year against Notre Dame, who many thing will be top 10 material this year. Including the Domers, the Trojans also travel to Columbus to play Ohio State. Their final OOC game is San Jose State, which is not a tough game for them, but after playing two (potential) top 10 teams, I can let this one slide.
Oregon opens up the season traveling to the blue turf at Boise State and has other out of conference games with Utah and Purdue. I have to give the Ducks credit because those are three quality schools. Purdue will be a bit down this year but the games at Boise State and against Utah are better than the majority of the teams that can schedule 4 OOC games.
If you listened to the Phil Steele interview we had on Monday, you'll remember how he mentioned that BYU controls their own destiny when it comes to making the BCS Championship game. You heard it right, not just a BCS Bowl, but the BCS Championship game. They open the season versus Oklahoma, and have Florida State later in the year. Those are two quality programs to go along with an increasingly tougher Mountain West and you have a difficult schedule for the Cougars.
Sticking in the Non-BCS conference, the Bulldogs of Fresno State once again loaded up their out of conference scheduling. If you remember last year they played both Rutgers and Wisconsin in back to back weeks. This year they play Wisconsin, Cincinnati (defending Big East champions), and Illinois all on the road. I won't get on them too much for scheduling UC Davis because of what they have to face in the other 3 games.
Remember last year when there was a big deal made about Georgia finally leaving the south to play an out of conference game against Arizona State? Well hold on to your hats, the Dawgs are going west again to play the Oklahoma State Cowboys. It should be interesting to see how the Dawgs can handle the Cowboys' high scoring offense. Besides the Cowboys, Georgia has a return game against Arizona State at home and travels to play Georgia Tech in their yearly rivalry match. With those three games, I give them a free pass (much like with Fresno State) in playing Tennessee Tech.
Finally we come to the Hokies of Virginia Tech who are no strangers to scheduling tough out of conference opponents. A few years ago they opened up with USC in our Nation's Capital, this year they have a neutral site game against Alabama. I am really looking forward to this game. Alabama will have some holes to fill but Nick Saban has had some great recruiting classes, and Virginia Tech is clamoring to be the favorite in the ACC. A win here by the Hokies would do wonders for the ACC's image. The Hokies also have a home game against Nebraska, who many think is the favorite in the Big 12 North, and take a trip to play East Carolina who surprised them last year. I'm sure that loss to the Pirates last year will not be forgotten when that game comes around.
As college football fans we'd love to see more games and schedules like the ones I mentioned above. For the most part, a lot of these schedules are made 6 or 7 years in advance, and that's plenty of time for teams that were once good to go south and stink. But having said that, you never know what games or teams will come up to bite you. Who thought last year that East Carolina would beat both West Virginia and Virginia Tech? Just because it doesn't look good on paper, does not mean it won't be a quality game.