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The latest news and analysis on the Montlake Dawgs.

June 30, 2009 at 10:34 PM

Ranking the schedules

I see that Bruce Feldman’s blog entry ranking the 10 toughest non-conference schedules in the country this season elicited a few comments.
Feldman lists just two Pac-10 teams — USC third and Oregon fifth.
I helped compile a similar type of list for the Lindy’s Pac-10 magazine that is hitting stores this week (I honestly haven’t seen the final product yet so I don’t know if it reads exactly this way or not).
The one difference in our rankings was also taking into account the Pac-10 portion of the schedule (obviously, everyone plays the same teams, but some get five at home and four on the road, others the oppostite, and who the home and road teams are and the order can make a difference).
So here’s how I ranked them with comment:
1, USC — The Trojans seem to earn this spot every year and do so again with non-conference tilts at Ohio State and Notre Dame (USC’s other non-conference game is San Jose State at home). Trojans also have to play both of what look to be its toughest conference foes on the road — Oregon and Cal.
2, Washington — Welcome to head coaching, Steve Sarkisian. Now take on LSU in your opener and travel to Notre Dame four weeks later. UW’s only gimme is Idaho at home. Huskies also play five of seven on the road in mid-season.
3, Oregon — Ducks deserve some points for being a rare BCS team willing to travel to Boise State. Ducks also host another non-BCS power, Utah, as well as Purdue. Ducks play seven at home overall, however.
4, UCLA — Bruins travel to Tennessee in week two and then host Kansas State before playing five of nine conference games on the road.
5, Stanford — At Wake Forest and home to Notre Dame highlight non-conference schedule and Cardinal also goes to USC.
6, Cal — Bears get Maryland at home and a tricky game at Minnesota in that school’s new stadium in non-conference play.
7, Arizona State — Road game at Georgia makes it tough enough but other two are walk-overs — Idaho State and UL-Monroe at home.
8, Oregon State — Cincinnati at home will be tough and Beavs also go to UNLV and have five road Pac-10 games.
9, Washington State — No true road non-conference game for Cougs, who play Notre Dame in San Antonio, Hawaii in Seattle and SMU in Pullman.
10, Arizona — Trip to Iowa gives some respectability to non-conference slate that otherwise features Central Michigan and Northern Arizona at home.
On second thought, I’m thinking I maybe could have flipped ASU and OSU near the bottom, but I gave the Devils the edge for going to Georgia. I may have Cal too high, as well, but Minnesota could be pretty good and Bears have five Pac-10 road games.
As for the teams at the top, USC deserves the credit it gets for year-in and year-out playing one of the toughest schedules around.
UW’s scheduling has been well-debated here and elsewhere. The LSU series (UW also goes there in 2012) was skedded last year. As reported at the time, UW needed a game after Nevada backed out of a planned contest here. (Meaning UW did have plans to have the sort of A-B-C schedule everyone on here seems to want — the Huskies would have had Nevada and Idaho at home and Notre Dame on the road — but had to alter those late in the game when Nevada backed out. That’s happened a lot to UW through the years with Navy and Indiana also backing out of games in recent years, which also helped to make the 2007 schedule a lot tougher than it would have been otherwise). The Notre Dame game is the finale of a four-game series that began in 2004 and included two games there and two games here.
And to answer the obvious question, here’s UW’s schedule for 2010. It’s another one that figures to be ranked among the toughest in the country beginning with a road game at BYU and then home games against Syracuse and Nebraska. Syracuse may not be any good, but any trip to BYU is tough and Nebraska is a relatively young team that could be better in 2010 than projected to be this season.



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