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TGS SPECIAL REPORT...THE FINE ART OF SCHEDULING

                                        by Bruce Marshall, Goldsheet.com Editor

Is discretion the better part of valor? When it comes to college football scheduling, maybe so. It’s been that way for decades; indeed, gridiron history is replete with teams that bit off more than they can chew, as the iconic LA Times columnist Jim Murray reminded readers when UCLA decided to hit the eject button on HC Bill Barnes (left) back in December of 1964.

“They gave Billy Barnes a schedule the Green Bay Packers would shy at,” wrote Murray. “Pittsburgh, Penn State, Syracuse, Notre Dame, Illinois and Air Force got on it this year. Red Sanders (UCLA’s legendary coach in the 1950s) wouldn’t have played Syracuse, Notre Dame, and Illinois back-to-back unless they let him use knives. It’s not a schedule, it’s a suicide patrol. You come home like an aircraft carrier that’s taken a bomb in the funnel.”

But for all of the teams that overschedule (often for financial reasons), there are teams that underschedule, too. The respective wisdoms of each are open to vast interpretations. For the handicapper, however, schedules (non-league in particular) can sometimes provide valuable clues as a campaign progresses, especially entering conference season. And since there are often such wide disparities in non-conference schedules, straight-up records are apt to provide an inaccurate barometer of a team’s true strength when league play commences. Thus, a measure of a team’s non-league slate often provides worthwhile data. While not every number is illuminating, and some are distorted by one particular foe, if it helps identify just a handful of potentially overvalued, or undervalued, sides, it’s of use to the football handicapper.

Following below are team-by-team calculations, by conference, of non-conference OPR (Opponent Power Rating) as of early September. Team Power Ratings as of TGS 2; *denotes an FCS entry, with corresponding rating included.

AMERICAN EAST: Cincinnati 9.0 (UCLA 11, Miami-Ohio 23, Ohio State 7, Marshall 9), South Florida 18.5 (Wisconsin 2, Georgia Tech 18, South Carolina State* 42, BYU 12), UCF 18.8 (Florida A&M* 43, FAU 15, Stanford 4, Pitt 13), UConn 19.8 (Wagner* 47, Illinois 18, Indiana 12, Florida 2), Temple 24.0 (Bucknell* 49, Maryland 13, Buffalo 16, Georgia Tech 18), East Carolina 30.8 (NC State 7, Gardner-Webb* 48, William & Mary* 38, Old Dominion 30).

AMERICAN WEST: Houston 12.8 (Oklahoma -10, Prairie View* 45, Washington State 4, North Texas 12), Tulsa 14.5 (Michigan State 3, San Jose State 31, Oklahoma State 9, Wyoming 15), Navy 15.3 (Holy Cross* 36, Air Force 16, Notre Dame 0, Army 9), Tulane 16.5 (FIU 17, Auburn 1, Missouri State* 39, Army 9), SMU 17.3 (Arkansas State 17, North Texas 12, TCU 8, Texas State 32), Memphis-26.0 (Ole Miss 12, Southern U* 41, South Alabama 30, ULM 21.

ACC ATLANTIC: Clemson 12.5 (Texas A&M –4, Charlotte 23, Wofford* 23, South Carolina 8), Florida State 16.0 (Boise State 5, ULM 21, Alabama State* 40, Florida -2), Louisville 17.0 (Notre Dame 0, Eastern Ky* 35, Western Ky 26, Kentucky 7), Wake Forest 20.3 (Utah State 7, Rice 26, Elon* 28), Boston College 20.5 (Richmond* 38, Kansas 21, Rutgers 23, Notre Dame 0), Syracuse 25.0 (Liberty 29, Maryland 13, Western Mich 22, Holy Cross* 36), NC State 26.0 (E. Carolina 25, W. Carolina* 41, Ball State 27, West Virginia 11).

ACC COASTAL: Duke 6.3 (Alabama -21, NC A&T* 25, Middle Tennessee 21, Notre Dame 0), Pittsburgh 9.5 (Ohio 9, Penn State 0, UCF 2, Delaware* 27), Georgia Tech 11.5 (South Florida 20, The Citadel* 31, Temple 8, Georgia -13), North Carolina 16.7 (South Carolina 8, App State 7, Mercer* 35), Virginia Tech 21.7 (Old Dominion 30, Furman* 27, Rhode Island* 30, Notre Dame 0), Miami-Fla. 22.5 (Florida -2, Bethune-Cookman* 42, Central Michigan 33, FIU 17), Virginia 24.3 (William & Mary* 38, Old Dominion 30, Notre Dame 0, Liberty 29). Note Wake Forest-UNC Sept. 14 not counted as ACC game in 2019.

BIG TEN EAST: Michigan 10.0 (Middle Tennessee 21. Army 9, Notre Dame 0), Ohio State 14.7 (Florida Atlantic-15, Cincinnati 6, Miami-Ohio 23), Michigan State 17.3 (Tulsa 20, Western Michigan 22, Arizona State 10), Maryland 20.7 (Howard* 49, Syracuse 5, Temple 8), Penn State 22.7 (Idaho* 39, Buffalo 16, Pitt 13), Rutgers 25.3 (UMass 38, Boston College 9, Liberty 29), Indiana 34.0 (Ball State 27, E Illinois* 39, UConn 37).

BIG TEN WEST: Purdue 12.7 (Nevada 16, Vanderbilt 14, TCU 8), Minnesota 13.3 (South Dakota State* 21, Fresno State 11, Georgia Southern 18), Iowa 17.0 (Miami-Ohio 23, Iowa State 7, Middle Tennessee 21), Nebraska 17.7 (South Alabama 30, Colorado 12, Northern Illinois 11), Northwestern 21.3 (Stanford 4, UNLV 22, Umass 38), Wisconsin 28.7 (USF 20, Central Michigan 33, Kent State 33), Illinois 29.7 (Akron 34, UConn 37, Eastern Michigan 18).

BIG 12: West Virginia 9.0 (James Madison* 15, Missouri 5, NC State 7), Texas 12.0 (La Tech 18, LSU -8, Rice 26), Iowa State 16.7 (Northern Iowa* 25, Iowa 4, ULM 21), Oklahoma 17.0 (Houston 10, South Dakota* 30, UCLA 11), Kansas State 19.7 (Nicholls State* 30, Bowling Green 28, Mississippi State 1), Kansas 22.0 (Indiana State* 30, Coastal Carolina 27, Boston College 9), TCU 25.3 (Arkansas-Pine Bluff* 57, Purdue 8, SMU 11), Texas Tech 27.0 (Montana State* 36, UTEP 37, Arizona 8), Oklahoma State 29.0 (Oregon State 28, McNeese State* 39, Tulsa 20), Baylor 35.4 (SF Austin* 47, UTSA 33, Rice 26).

C-USA EAST: Middle Tennessee 13.3 (Michigan -3, Tennessee State* 39, Duke 13, Iowa 4), Marshall 15.8 (VMI* 45, Boise State 5, Ohio 9, Cincinnati 6), FAU 17.3 (Ohio State -7, UCF 2, Ball State 27, Wagner *47), Charlotte 17.5 (Gardner-Webb* 48, App State 7, UMass 38, Clemson -20), Western Kentucky 19.5 (Central Arkansas* 28, Louisville 23, Army 9, Arkansas 18), Old Dominion 21.8 (Norfolk State* 48, Virginia Tech 9, Virginia 5, East Carolina 25), FIU 23.8 (Tulane 12, New Hampshire* 39, Mass 38, Miami-Fla. 6).

MAC EAST: Bowling Green 7.8 (Michigan State 3, Kansas State 10, La Tech 18, Notre Dame 0), Kent State 11.0 (Arizona State 10, Kennesaw State* 31, Auburn 1, Wisconsin 2), Miami-Ohio 13.5 (Iowa 4, Tenn Tech* 51, Cincinnati 6, Ohio State -7), Ohio 18.0 (Rhode Island* 32, Pitt 13, Marshall 9, ULL 18), Akron 20.0 (Illinois 18, UAB 14, Troy 10, UMass 38), Buffalo 22.0 (Rob Morris* 51, Penn State 0, Liberty 29, Temple 8).

MAC WEST: Northern Illinois 9.3 (Ill State* 20, Utah -1, Nebraska 4, Vandy 14), Ball State 20.5 (Indiana 12, Fordham* 48, FAU 15, NC State 7), Western Michigan 20.5 (Monmouth* 42, Michigan State 3, Georgia State 32, Syracuse 5), Toledo 21.3 (Kentucky 7, Murray State* 38, Colorado State 28, BYU 12), Central Michigan 22.3 (Albany* 43, Wisconsin 2, Miami-Fla. 6, New Mexico State 38), Eastern Michigan 22.8 (Coastal Carolina 27, Kentucky 7, Illinois 18, Central Conn* 39).

MOUNTAIN WEST MOUNTAIN: Utah State 9.5 (Wake Forest 7, Stony Brook* 27, LSU -8, BYU 12), Boise State 16.8 (Florida State 8, Marshall 9, Portland State* 38, BYU 12), Air Force 17.3 (Colgate* 36, Colorado 12, Army 9, Navy 12), Colorado State 19.0 (Colorado 12, Western Illinois *31, Arkansas 18, Toledo 15), Wyoming 24.0 (Missouri 5, Texas State 32, Idaho* 39, Tulsa 20), New Mexico 26.3 (Sam Houston* 38, Notre Dame 0, New Mexico State 38, Liberty 29).

MOUNTAIN WEST WEST: Hawaii 15.0 (Arizona 8, Oregon State 28, Washington 2, Central Arkansas* 28, Army 9), Nevada 18.0 (Purdue 8, Oregon 3, Weber State* 24, UTEP 37), San Diego State 21.3 (Weber State* 24, UCLA 11, New Mexico State 38, BYU 12), UNLV 22.0 (Southern Utah* 49, Arkansas State 17, Northwestern 8, Vanderbilt 14), San Jose State 23.0 (N Colorado* 45, Tulsa 20, Arkansas 18, Army 9), Fresno State 24.0 (USC 6, Minnesota 11, Sac State* 41, New Mexico State 38).

PAC-12 NORTH: Stanford 3.3 (Northwestern 8, UCF 2, Notre Dame 0), Cal 15.0 (UC Davis* 21, North Texas 12, Ole Miss 12), Oregon 15.3 (Auburn 1, Nevada 16, Montana* 29), Washington 16.3 (EWU* 23, Hawaii 14, BYU 12), Oregon State 19.7 ((Oklahoma State 9, Hawaii 14, Cal Poly* 36), Washington State 31.0 (New Mexico State 38, N Colorado* 45, Houston 10).

PAC-12 SOUTH: UCLA 4.0 (Cincinnati 6, San Diego State 16, Oklahoma -10), USC 7.7 (Fresno State 11, BYU 12, Notre Dame 0), Colorado 16.0 (Colorado State 28, Nebraska 4, Air Force 16), Utah 19.0 (BYU 12, Northern Illinois 11, Idaho State *34), Arizona 20.0 (Hawaii 14, Northern Arizona* 36, Texas Tech 10), Arizona State 25.7 (Kent State 33, Sac State *41, Michigan State 3).

SEC EAST: South Carolina 9.3 (North Carolina 11, Char Southern* 39, App State 7, Clemson -20), Missouri 17.0 (Wyoming 15, West Virginia 11, SE Missouri St* 32, Troy 10), Georgia 18.3 (Murray St* 38, Arkansas State 17, Notre Dame 0, Georgia Tech 18), Vanderbilt 18.3 (Purdue 8, Northern Illinois 11, UNLV 22, ETSU* 32), Florida 19.0 (Miami-Fla 6, UT-Martin* 35, Towson*, Florida State 8), Kentucky 22.8 (Toledo 15, Eastern Michigan 18, UT-Martin* 35, Louisville 23), Tennessee 22.8 (Georgia State 32, BYU 12, Chattanooga * 33, UAB 14).

SEC WEST: LSU 16.3 (Ga Southern 18, Texas -1, Northwestern State* 41, Utah State 7), Auburn 18.3 (Oregon 3, Tulane 12, Kent State 33, Samford* 25), Mississippi State 18.3 (ULL 18, Southern Miss 11, Kansas State 10, Ab Christian* 34), Texas A&M 20.5 (Texas State 32, Clemson -20, Lamar* 37, UTSA 33), Ole Miss 23.8 (Memphis 9, SE Louisiana* 39, Cal 9, New Mexico State 38), Alabama 25.8 (Duke 13, New Mexico State 38, Southern Miss 11, Western Carolina* 41), Arkansas 31.0 (Portland State* 38, Colorado State 28, San Jose State 31, Western Kentucky 26).

SUN BELT EAST: Ga Southern 16.8 (LSU -8, Maine* 26, Minnesota 11, New Mexico State 38), Ga State 18.0 (Tennessee 12. Furman* 29, Western Mich 22, Army 9), App State 19.8 (E Tenn State* 37, Charlotte 23, North Carolina 11, South Carolina 8), Troy 22.8 (Campbell* 41, Southern Miss 11, Akron 34, Missouri 34), Coastal Carolina 31.3 (Eastern Michigan 18, Norfolk St* 48, UMass 38).

SUN BELT WEST: Texas State 13.0 (Texas A&M -4, Wyoming 15, SMU 11, Nicholls State *30), Arkansas State 15.3 (SMU 11, UNLV 22, Georgia -13, Southern Illinois* 35), ULM 16.5 (Grambling* 42, Florida State 8, Iowa State 7, Memphis 9), South Alabama 18.8 (Nebraska 4, Jackson Stater* 48, Memphis 9, UAB 14), ULL 24.3 (Miss State 1, Liberty 29, Texas Southern* 58, Ohio 9).






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