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2007 NON-CONFERENCE STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE
Rank
Team
Pts.
1. Louisiana Tech 96.25
2. Troy 90.20
3. Nebraska 86.25
4. Middle Tennessee 81.00
5. Idaho 78.50
6. Oregon 78.33
7. East Carolina 77.50
8. Virginia Tech 67.00
9. Maryland 66.75
10. Florida Atlantic 65.20
11. Tulane 62.25
12. Florida State 62.00
13. Utah 60.00
14. Florida International 57.20
15. Washington State 57.00
16. Marshall 56.75
17. Miami FL 53.75
18. North Texas 53.60
19. Western Michigan 53.40
20. Eastern Michigan 53.00
21. UCF 52.25
22. Arkansas State 51.60
23. Buffalo 50.75
24. Southern California 49.00
25. Washington 48.50
26. Mississippi State 48.00
27. UNLV 45.00
28. Northern Illinois 42.60
29. Utah State 42.00
30. Rice 41.75
31. TCU 41.25
32. Kent State 40.25
33. Southern Miss 37.00
34. Georgia Tech 36.50
34. Tulsa 36.50
36. Akron 35.25
37. Stanford 34.33
38. Louisiana-Lafayette 32.40
39. North Carolina 31.75
40. Ohio 31.50
40. North Carolina State 31.50
42. Kentucky 30.50
43. Tennessee 30.00
44. Louisiana-Monroe 28.60
45. Kansas State 28.50
46. Colorado State 28.25
47. Louisiana State 28.00
48. Fresno State 27.75
49. Oklahoma State 27.50
50. California 27.00
51. Nevada 26.50
52. Wake Forest 25.50
53. Bowling Green 25.25
54. UCLA 25.00
55. Ball State 23.60
56. South Florida 23.40
57. Temple 23.25
58. New Mexico State 23.00
59. Brigham Young 22.50
60. SMU 21.00
61. Duke 20.50
62. Baylor 18.75
62. Colorado 18.75
64. Clemson 18.25
65. UAB 18.00
66. Georgia 17.75
66. Wyoming 17.75
68. Air Force 17.50
69. Texas 16.50
70. Michigan State 16.25
71. Auburn 15.50
72. Boston College 15.00
73. Michigan 14.50
73. Houston 14.50
75. Texas A&M 13.50
75. Vanderbilt 13.50
77. Alabama 13.00
78. Purdue 12.75
78. San Jose State 12.75
80. Illinois 11.75
80. Penn State 11.75
80. Oklahoma 11.75
83. Florida 11.25
84. San Diego State 11.00
85. Central Michigan 10.00
86. Syracuse 9.80
87. Louisville 9.40
88. Mississippi 9.25
89. West Virginia 9.20
89. Cincinnati 9.20
91. Iowa State 9.00
92. Miami OH 8.80
93. Arizona 8.00
93. Oregon State 8.00
95. New Mexico 6.75
96. Pittsburgh 6.40
97. Rutgers 6.20
98. South Carolina 6.00
99. UTEP 5.75
100. Toledo 5.25
101. Missouri 5.00
102. Virginia 4.25
103. Iowa 4.00
104. Boise State 3.75
105. Connecticut 3.60
106. Ohio State 3.25
107. Arizona State 3.00
107. Indiana 3.00
107. Wisconsin 3.00
107. Memphis 3.00
111. Texas Tech 2.75
112. Hawai'i 2.25
112. Northwestern 2.25
114. Minnesota 2.00
115. Kansas 1.75
116. Arkansas 1.50
Independents not included
Congratulations to the Louisiana Tech Athletic Office for attempting to bring the athletic budget into the black. The Bulldogs have put together the nation's toughest non-conference schedule according to these rankings. Accordingly, the payout should be a good one since Tech will play three non-conference games on the road in 2007. Ole Miss, California and Louisiana State will be signing the checks.

Congratulation also goes out to Nebraska for putting together the toughest non-conference schedule amongst the BCS-aligned teams. There used to be a time when the world would criticize the Cornhusker’s schedules...ones that would include 70-21 pastings of foes like almighty Pacific (1994 & 1995). More than a decade later, the tide has turned in Lincoln. No. 1 ranked USC completes a home-and-home deal this fall. Also, Nebraska will travel to Winston-Salem and the confines of 31,500-seat Groves Stadium to tackle reigning ACC champs Wake Forest...a challenge that would have been unheard of in the past. The scheduling philosophy has changed and so has the coaching. We are guessing Tom Osborne had nothing to do with this slate.

Louisiana Tech is No. 1 on this list from an individual perspective, but the Sun Belt is conference king when it comes to getting big paychecks by playing big road games. Every single Sun Belt team possesses a non-conference schedule that ranks as highly as any in I-A. Getting one of them to rise out of the pack, for once, and land in a Top 25 ranking just isn't going to happen this year with such stout competition lined up. But kudos, nonetheless.

As many think and as is true: the tougher the conference, the easier the non-conference schedule will usually be. Hence, the SEC and Big Ten non-conference schedules are among the nation's weakest. The Big East really made a move last season and was noticed as one of the better leagues. Louisville, Rutgers and West Virginia all had seasons worth remembering. But just how good is the Big East, really? Like last year, they play each other and then three or four of their teams emerge onto the Top 25 scene. But their non-conference schedules are pretty bad, so is such elevation worthy? In this eight-member league, each team plays five non-conference opponents, which equals 40 games. Out of these 40 games, only one non-con opponent is ranked in our preseason Top 25 (South Florida at Auburn – Sept. 8).

The ACC, on the other hand, is tops (amongst BCS conferences) when it comes to squaring off against the bigger non-conference boys. They come in second on this list - of 36 non-conference opponents, 11 are included from our Top 25 teams...five of them are in the Top 5. The television exposure should help build a solid future for the newly-built 12-team league. They have parity, now they just have to raise that bar.

What conference is tops when scheduling tougher opponents?
Sun Belt 57.48
ACC 36.06
C-USA 35.52
WAC 34.75
Pac Ten 33.82
MAC 30.99
Mountain West 27.78
Big 12 20.00
SEC 18.69
Big East 9.65
Big Ten 7.68

 

Arkansas receives the dubious honor of putting together the nation's worst non-conference schedule. Who can blame anyone in the SEC for a lighter non-conference load? Inner league play should be enough. The opponents include Troy, North Texas, UT-Chattanooga and Florida International...all home dates. If head coach Houston Nutt is on the hot seat, it will not likely be because he failed to make a bowl. All he will need is two conference victories to get bowl eligible after being big favorites to beat these four opponents. And if they can’t beat all four, the writing could be on the wall.

Hawai'i has been a popular pick this preseason for good reasons. The Warriors will treat fans to some of the most prolific scores college football has seen in the last 50 years, given the proven offensive success of coach June Jones' system. With a top Heisman candidate in gunslinger Colt Brennan steering this pass-happy ship, most opponents are likely to be left high-and-dry by the start of the second half. As many of you rely on us, NationalChamps.net is one of the first publications (late January) in any media format to release a full listing of all 119 team schedules. We can honestly say that Hawai'i was one of the last teams to complete their slate - their official release did not come out until late April. Usually an attractive destination in November for many major programs from snow belts, nobody wants to tangle with the Warriors these days, and, hence, their front office had a difficult time piecing their 2007 schedule together. The results...Hawai'i gets stuck playing two I-AA teams (Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern). Even more so than WAC-brethren Boise State last year, Hawai'i could run the table and have absolutely no shot at a National Championship. The schedule is that bad, and this sequence proves why having a competitive list of non-conference foes is a must if your fledging program is to get the respect it likely deserves from pollsters.

NationalChamps.net Top Non-Conference Match Ups

9-1 Tennessee at California
9-1 Oklahoma State at Georgia
9-8 Miami FL at Oklahoma
9-8 Virginia Tech at Louisiana State
9-8 South Florida at Auburn
9-8 Oregon at Michigan
9-8 Notre Dame at Penn State
9-8 Nebraska at Wake Forest
9-8 TCU at Texas
9-15 Notre Dame at Michigan
9-15 Southern California at Nebraska
9-20 Texas A&M at Miami FL (Thur.)
9-29 Alabama vs. Florida State @Jacksonville, FL
10-20 Southern California at Notre Dame
11-24 Florida State at Florida