Evaluating the I-A Non-Conference Schedules

Four WAC teams feature non-conference football schedules that are among the top 25 in the nation. Inside, a list of the top 25 toughest out of conference schedules.

Four teams from the Western Athletic Conference have non-conference football schedules that are ranked in the top 25 in the nation, but Boise State is not included in that group.

The Broncos have gone from one of the toughest non-conference schedules in Division I-A football last year to #59 in the country this season. In effect, Sacramento State replaces Georgia on this year's schedule--hence the reason for the decline in strength of schedule. In addition to the Hornets, Boise State hosts Oregon State and plays at Utah and Wyoming.

The toughest non-conference schedule this year belongs to Rice. The Owls play Texas, Florida State, UCLA and Army. Fresno State of the WAC is tied with USC and Air Force for the distinction of having the second strongest out of league schedule, followed by WAC member Utah State at No. 5. Fresno, which traditionally schedules tough opponents, plays LSU, Oregon, Washington and Colorado State. USC will go up against Notre Dame, Nebraska and Arkansas, while Air Force takes on Tennessee, Notre Dame, Army and Navy. Utah State challenges Arkansas, Utah, Wyoming and BYU.

Number six belongs to East Carolina (West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina State and Navy), followed by Middle Tennessee (Oklahoma, South Carolina, Louisville, Maryland and Tennessee Tech). Buffalo (Auburn, Boston College, Wisconsin and Temple) is #8, with Florida Atlantic (Clemson, Kansas State, Oklahoma State and South Carolina) 9th and UAB (Oklahoma, Georgia, Mississippi State and Troy) rounding out the top ten.

Nevada of the WAC is No. 24, with a schedule featuring Arizona State, UNLV, Northwestern and Colorado State, followed by Louisiana Tech at No. 25. The Bulldogs go up against Nebraska, Texas A & M, Clemson and Nicholls State.

The schedule rankings were determined by Athlon Sports' Preseason College Football ratings, featured in their annual summer magazine. Teams scheduling Oklahoma, Athlon's choice for #1, were given 120 points, followed by an inverted allocation of points to each successive team. The points for all non-conference games were then added for each team and then averaged by the number of non-conference games scheduled.

Here is the complete top 25:

1. Rice

2. Fresno State

2. USC

2. Air Force

5. Utah State

6. East Carolina

7. Middle Tennessee

8. Buffalo

9. Florida Atlantic

10. UAB

11. Southern Mississippi

11. Oregon

13. Tulane

14. North Carolina

15. Marshall

16. Colorado

17. Auburn

18. Louisiana-Monroe

19. Duke

19. Troy

21. Central Florida

22. BYU

23. Ohio State

24. Nevada

25. Louisiana Tech

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