Lutz Blog

Bob Lutz: Top 25 CFB schedules have some high points

South Carolina plays host to Texas A&M on Thursday night.
South Carolina plays host to Texas A&M on Thursday night. Associated Press

In case you haven’t heard, the college football season is about to begin. In a couple of hours, in fact, with a doozy: Texas A&M at South Carolina. There are a bunch more games tonight and all weekend, including some great non-conference match-ups like West Virginia-Alabama, Clemson-Georgia, Wisconsin-LSU and Florida State-Oklahoma State.

I love big college football games. Trouble is, the big boys of college football don’t like to fill up the non-conference portion of their schedules with many true tests. Those come later, in conference play.

So I thought I’d look at the non-conference schedules for the preseason Top 25 schools and provide a brief analysis. A thumbs-up or thumbs-down, really.

No. 1 Florida State

Saturday - vs. Oklahoma State in Dallas

Sept. 6 - Citadel

Oct. 18 - Notre Dame

Oct. 29 - Florida

Comment: The Seminoles are everybody’s pick - almost - to win another national championship. But that’s one tough non-conference road. Fortunately, the ACC should be a cakewalk.

No. 2 Alabama

Saturday - vs. West Virginia at the Georgia Dome, Atlanta

Sept 6 - Florida Atlantic

Sept. 13 - Southern Miss

Nov. 22 - Western Carollina

Comment: Oklahoma State might muster a challenge this weekend. Southern Miss has been known to be good. Not bad.

No. 3 Oregon

Saturday - South Dakota

Sept. 6. - Michigan State

Sept. 13 - Wyoming

Comment: The game with the Spartans will be huge in Week 2. Wyoming isn’t bad. Good job, Ducks.

No. 4 Oklahoma

Saturday - Louisiana Tech

Sept 6 - at Tulsa

Sept. 13 - Tennessee

Comment: Big 12 teams only get three non-conference games. Tennessee is the only threat on this schedule and not much of one, at that.

No. 5 Ohio State

Saturday - at Navy

Sept. 6. - Virginia Tech

Sept. 13 - Kent State

Sept. 27 - Cincinnati

Comment: Solid competition throughout. No cupcakes, though Kent State is a bit fluffy.

No. 6 Auburn

Sept. 6 - San Jose State

Sept. 18 - at Kansas State

Sept. 27 - Louisiana Tech

Nov. 22 - Samford

Comment: So looking forward to that September visit to Manhattan, which will be one of the most interesting games of the season. Otherwise, meh.

No. 7 UCLA

Saturday - at Virginia

Sept. 6 - Memphis

Sept. 13 - vs. Texas in Dallas

Comment: Two road games in the non-conference? Almost unheard of at this level. And don’t think the game against Texas is at a neutral site. It’s not.

No. 8 Michigan State

Friday - vs. Jacksonville State

Sept. 6 - at Oregon

Sept. 20 - Eastern Michigan

Sept. 27 - Wyoming

Comment: Circle the date of the game against Oregon in Eugene. Don’t bother with the rest.

No. 9 South Carolina

Sept. 6 - East Carolina

Oct. 18 - Furman

Nov. 22 - South Alabama

Comment: Nothing to see here, outside of perhaps East Carolina, which is coming off a 10-3 season. Otherwise, Move along.

No. 10 Baylor

Sunday - SMU

Sept. 6 - Northwestern State

Sept. 12 - at Buffalo

Comment: Not much here, although a road trip to Buffalo is interesting.

No. 11 Stanford

Saturday - UC Davis

Sept. 13 - Army

Oct. 4 - at Notre Dame

Comment: Notre Dame will be fun, at least.

No. 12 Georgia

Saturday - Clemson

Sept. 20 - Troy

Nov. 22 - Charleston Southern

Comment: Clemson is a home run. Troy and Charleston Southern are swings and misses.

No. 13 LSU

Saturday - vs. Wisconsin in Houston

Sept. 6 - Sam Houston State

Sept. 13 - UL Monroe

Sept. 27 - New Mexico State

Comment: It’s a big first weekend but things nationally fall off after that.

No. 14 Wisconsin

Saturday - vs. LSU in Houston

Sept. 6 - Western Illinois

Sept. 20 - Bowling Green

Sept. 27 - South Florida

Comment: LSU is the game here. The rest should go down without much of a fight.

No. 15 USC

Saturday - vs. Fresno State

Sept. 13 - at Boston College

Nov. 29 - Notre Dame

Comment: What would the world be without USC and the Fighting Irish?

No. 16 Clemson

Saturday - at Georgia

Sept. 6 - South Carolina State

Nov. 22 - Georgia State

Nov. 29 - South Carolina

Comment: A non-conference schedule with two powerhouses is just another reason to like Dabo Swinney. But his name is the biggest reason.

No. 17 Notre Dame

Comment: Every game for the Irish is a non-conference game. This season is highlighed by games against Michigan, Stanford, North Carolina, Florida State, Arizona State and USC. Tough, tough, tough.

No. 18 Ole Miss

Tonight - Boise State

Sept. 13 - LA-Lafayette

Sept. 27 - Memphis

Nov. 8 - Presbyterian

Comment: Presbyterian? Not sure about Boise State this season in a transition season. The Rebels shouldn’t lose any of these.

No. 19 Arizona State

Tonight - Weber State

Sept. 6 - at New Mexico

Nov. 8 - Notre Dame

Comment: The Sun Devils have the one difficult non-conference game. And that’s it.

No. 20 Kansas State

Saturday - Stephen F. Austin

Sept. 18 - Auburn

Sept. 27 - UTEP

Comment: SFA and UTEP were a combined 5-19 last season. Auburn was slightly better.

No. 21 Texas A&M

Sept. 6 - Lamar

Sept. 13 - Rice

Sept. 20 - at SMU

Comment: Try getting the Aggies out of Texas. I double dare you.

No. 22 Nebraska

Saturday - Florida Atlantic

Sept. 6 - McNeese State

Sept. 13 - at Fresno State

Sept. 20 - Miami (Fla.)

Comment: What are the chances the Huskers win back-to-back against Fresno and Miami? I’d say slim.

No. 23 North Carolina

Saturday - Liberty

Sept. 6 - San Diego State

Sept. 20 - East Carolina

Oct. 11 - at Notre Dame

Comment: Is there any team that doesn’t play Notre Dame this season?

No. 24 Missouri

Saturday - South Dakota State

Sept. 6 - at Toledo

Sept. 13 - Central Florida

Sept. 20 - Indiana

Comment: Pretty decent, but too bad Blake Bortles isn’t at UCF now.

No. 25 Washington

Saturday - at Hawaii

Sept. 6 - Eastern Washington

Sept. 13 - Illinois

Sept. 20 - Georgia State

Comment: Jet lag from the Hawaii trip looks to be the biggest hurdle.

Thanks for reading. And get ready for that A&M-South Carolina game to start. Should be a dilly.