Yeah, I know it says 1983 - but it's time to nitpick the schedules, fools.
Each year some teams pop to the forefront with their schedule appearing soft. Sometimes a lightly regarded opponent turns into a Goliath. Other times there comes an unexpected stumble. For 2007, there are a lot of teams playing a shameful non-conference slate while others are playing meat grinders.
For now, let's focus on the BCS conference heavies and their non-conference slates...
The Big Ten
Michigan - Appalachian State (Sept. 1), Oregon (Sept. 8), Notre Dame (Sept. 15), and Eastern Michigan (Oct. 6). The defending I-AA champ and a MAC school countered with two BCS schools, all at Ann Arbor. I can respect the MAC team in light of the Ducks and Irish, but Appalachian State? Come on guys.
Ohio State - Youngstown State (Sept. 1), Akron (Sept. 8), at Washington (Sept. 15), and Kent State (Oct. 13). There must be a mandate about MACs and I-AAs through the Big Ten. This schedule is just shameful for a program coming off the heels of a home-and-home with Texas the past two seasons.
Wisconsin - Washington State (Sept. 1), at UNLV (Sept. 8), The Citadel (Sept. 15), and Northern Illinois (Oct. 20). Wazzu is a BCS opponent, fine. UNLV is a trip for the alums to the Strip. The Citadel and Northern Illinois are the requisite I-AA and MAC opponents.
Penn State - Florida International (Sept. 1), Notre Dame (Sept. 8), Buffalo (Sept. 15), and at Temple (Nov. 10). Notre Dame is a solid opponent while the Nittany Lions will double dip from the MAC with Buffalo and Temple. FIU is slightly above a I-AA opponent.
With Notre Dame being a bit weak this year expect these four to go 16-0 over these games. Oregon and Washington State aren't strong enough to win on the road at Michigan and Wisconsin respectively.
Florida - Western Kentucky (Sept. 1), Troy (Sept. 8), Florida Atlantic (Nov. 17), and Florida State (Nov. 24). All four at home with the required game with the Seminoles being the saving grace from a truly pathetic offering for Gator season ticket holders.
Georgia - Oklahoma State (Sept. 1), Western Carolina (Sept. 15), Troy (Nov. 3), at Georgia Tech (Nov. 24). Slightly above the Gator slate with Oklahoma State representing a second, non-conference BCS opponent.
Tennessee - at California (Sept. 1), Southern Miss (Sept. 8), Arkansas State (Sept. 22), and Louisiana-Lafayette (Nov. 3). The first two are very solid with the last two being Sun Belt specials. That's four Sun Belt games amongst the three SEC East teams.
LSU - Virginia Tech (Sept. 8), Middle Tennessee (Sept. 15), at Tulane (Sept. 29), and Louisiana Tech (Nov. 10). All four home games when you consider that the Tigers are receiving 40,000 tickets for the Tulane game at the Superdome. Virginia Tech game is one of the best, early, non-conference games in the country. Middle Tennessee makes it 4-for-4 for the SEC playing the Sun Belt.
Auburn - Kansas State (Sept. 1), South Florida (Sept. 8), New Mexico State (Nov. 22), Tennessee Tech (Nov. 3). Kansas State and USF are respectable BCS teams while NMSU and Tech are awful. Like many of the big boys, all four games are at home.
Alabama - Western Carolina (Sept. 1), Florida State (Sept. 29 in Jacksonville, Fla.), Houston (Oct. 6), Louisiana-Monroe (Nov. 17). The FSU game is intriguing for the masses. Houston won their half of Conference USA last season. WCU and ULM are fodder.
Arkansas - Troy (Sept. 1), North Texas (Sept. 29), UT-Chattanooga (Oct. 6), Florida International (Oct. 27). I-AA team plus an unofficial Sun Belt Championship awaits the Hogs in 2007. This is a program that played USC & Texas since the 12-game schedules became the norm.
The SEC continues to hide behind it's motto of the conference being too tough to worry about challenges outside the fold for years. Alabama gets a nod for playing Florida State and Tennessee and Cal will be a huge opening weekend game. Still, the SEC could do without propping up the Sun Belt.
The Pac-10 - They only play three non-conference games due to a true round-robin. Kudos to them.
USC - Idaho (Sept. 1), at Nebraska (Sept. 15), at Notre Dame (Oct. 20). I continually tip my cap to Pete Carroll and his scheduling habits. Trips to South Bend and Lincoln can have me overlook the Idaho warm-up.
California - Tennessee (Sept. 1), at Colorado State (Sept. 8), Louisiana Tech (Sept. 15). Tennessee is a return trip that the Cal players have been motivated to play since last September. At Colorado State would normally be tricky but the Rams are down. LA Tech is a filler.
UCLA - BYU (Sept. 8), at Utah (Sept. 15), Notre Dame (Oct. 6). No complaints as the Cougars were 10-game winners in 2006, Utes went bowling and Notre Dame is Notre Dame.
Texas - Arkansas State (Sept. 1), TCU (Sept. 8), at Central Florida (Sept. 15), Rice (Sept. 22). The UCF game is for recruiting in the state of Florida purposes. TCU is very solid while Rice and Arkansas State fill out the slate. This program played Arkansas and Ohio State the last few years so its a bit of a slide.
Oklahoma - North Texas (Sept. 1), Miami, FL (Sept. 8), Utah State (Sept. 15), at Tulsa (Sept. 21). Tulsa is a home game, don't kid yourself. Miami is delicious but North Texas and Utah State are very weak. I guess the Sooners learned their lesson losing to TCU in 2006.
Nebraska - Nevada (Sept. 1), at Wake Forest (Sept. 8), USC (Sept. 15), Ball State (Sept. 22). I can live with Ball State being on the sked with this collection, although I don't think the Nebraska brass thought they would get defending ACC champion, Wake Forest on the road. Nevada is a decent team out of the WAC.
Virginia Tech - East Carolina (Sept. 1), at LSU (Sept. 8), Ohio (Sept. 15), William & Mary (Sept. 22). The LSU game is great but the other three absolutely stink. Bill & Mary, come on!!?!?!
Florida State - UAB (Sept. 8), at Colorado (Sept. 15), Alabama (Sept. 29 in Jacksonville, Fla.), at Florida (Nov. 24). Salute the Seminoles for a very tough schedule. Colorado won't finish 2-10 this year and UAB is perfectly fine with Bama and Florida on the schedule. Is it the mid-80's again and FSU is back to being an independent?
Miami, FL - Marshall (Sept. 1), at Oklahoma (Sept. 8), Florida International (Sept. 15), and Texas A&M (Sept. 20). The A&M game coming five days after the FIU brawl rematch is interesting. I am guessing there will be a near military presence in the Orange Bowl for that game. OU and A&M are nothing to laugh at so this is a tough schedule.
Louisville - Murray State (Aug. 30), Middle Tennessee (Sept. 6), at Kentucky (Sept. 15), at N.C. State (Sept. 29), Utah (Oct. 5). Two roadies at BCS teams, a solid Utah team and two pathetic practices for openers. Going to be a lot of open seats at Papa John's this fall.
West Virginia - Western Michigan (Sept. 1), at Marshall (Sept. 8), at Maryland (Sept. 13), East Carolina (Sept. 22), Mississippi State (Oct. 20). At Maryland is the only problem here. I wish the Big East would challenge themselves a bit more, but with an automatic BCS bid why should they?
Rutgers - Buffalo (Aug. 30), Navy (Sept. 7), Norfolk State (Sept. 15), Maryland (Sept. 29), at Army (Nov. 9). Just awful with Buffalo and Norfolk State. Army/Navy are staple opponents for the Scarlet Knights while Maryland might have been the only team willing to be a part of the Knight resurgence.
Notre Dame - The last true independent with an AD who is trying to make them like the other bigs and only play four road games. There are 10 BCS conference opponents but Duke and Stanford shouldn't be much of a threat. Eight bowl teams from 2006: Georgia Tech, at Penn State, at Michigan, at Purdue, at UCLA, Boston College, USC, and Navy.
Bottom line we all got excited with the addition of the 12th game. Some regional games renewed their hostilities (UGA-Clemson, GT-Auburn, Texas-Arkansas, Missouri-Illinois, etc.) but the trend is for the 12th game just to be another money maker for the big schools - offering another home gathering for the alums to watch some poor team get a paycheck to be humiliated.
This only provides a snapshot of the toughest schedules as the conference slates have to be factored in for the true show of who has a killer slate or a weak walk through the park in 2007.