College Football 2012: The 50 Toughest Schedules

Matt SmithCorrespondent IIIJanuary 10, 2012

College Football 2012: The 50 Toughest Schedules

0 of 50

    With a season consisting of only 12 games, schedules are more important in college football than any other sport on the road to the 2012 BCS National Championship.

    There aren't full round-robins in most conferences, and university finances impact not only the quality of non-conference opponents, but where the games are played.

    While the dates of many games as well the final kinks of conference realignment are still being finalized, most teams know who they will play and where they will play them in the 2012 season.

    Here are the 50 teams with the most difficult roads in 2012.

     

    www.twitter.com/NDalum07

No. 50: Georgia

1 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Ole Miss, Tennessee, Vanderbilt

    Conference Away Games: Auburn, Kentucky, Missouri, South Carolina

    Conference Neutral Site Game: Florida (Jacksonville)

    Notable Non-Conference Game: Georgia Tech

    Outlook: While the Bulldogs avoid Alabama, Arkansas, and LSU for a second straight season, their most difficult SEC games are away from home. The home schedule is blah, outside of the rivalry game with Georgia Tech to end the season.

No. 49: UCLA

2 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Arizona, Oregon State, Stanford, USC, Utah

    Conference Away Games: Arizona State, California, Colorado, Washington State

    Notable Non-Conference Games: Houston, Nebraska

    Outlook: The Bruins play in the weaker of the two Pac-12 divisions, which can only help new coach Jim Mora. The road games are as manageable as you can ask for, and there's no Oregon on the schedule. Houston will be nowhere near as good as they were in 2011, but playing Nebraska at home will feel like a road game.

No. 48: Virginia

3 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Maryland, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Wake Forest

    Conference Away Games: Duke, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Virginia Tech

    Notable Non-Conference Games: Penn State, at TCU

    Outlook: The Cavaliers seemingly catch a break in the ACC rotation, swapping Florida State for Wake Forest. However, three of five division games are on the road, and the non-conferene slate, which includes playing TCU in Fort Worth, is challenging.

No. 47: Ohio State

4 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Illinois, Michigan, Nebraska, Purdue

    Conference Away Games: Indiana, Michigan State, Penn State, Wisconsin

    Notable Non-Conference Game: California

    Outlook: There are eight home games for first-year coach Urban Meyer, but the Buckeyes again draw the three best teams from the Legends Division. Facing California in non-conference play won't be easy, even in Columbus. Having Indiana as a road game is a plus.

No. 46: Wake Forest

5 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, North Carolina

    Conference Away Games: Florida State, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia

    Notable Non-Conference Games: at Notre Dame, Vanderbilt

    Outlook: Having Duke as its permanent crossover opponent benefits the Deacons, and Virginia Tech rolls off of the schedule next season. Wake Forest once again has some tough tests outside of the ACC, as they'll face Notre Dame and Vanderbilt for the second straight season.

No. 45: Purdue

6 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Indiana, Michigan, Penn State, Wisconsin

    Conference Away Games: Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, Ohio State

    Notable Non-Conference Game: at Notre Dame

    Outlook: The Boilermakers have a very attractive home schedule, but that means a lot of their more winnable games are on the road. Playing two other 6-6 teams, Illinois and Ohio State, at home in 2011 helped get Purdue to a bowl game, but those flip to road games next season. Outside of a trip to Notre Dame, the non-conference schedule is soft.

No. 44: Washington State

7 of 50

    Conference Home Games: California, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, Washington

    Conference Away Games: Arizona State, Oregon State, Stanford, Utah

    Notable Non-Conference Game: at BYU

    Outlook: The Mike Leach-era begins with a tough game on the road against BYU, but there are five Pac-12 home games. A bowl bid is not out of the question with this slate. The Cougars get a nice break by missing USC for the second straight season.

No. 43: Colorado

8 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA, Utah, Washington

    Conference Away Games: Arizona, Oregon, USC, Washington State

    Notable Non-Conferene Games: vs. Colorado State

    Outlook: After playing eight games away from home in 2011, the schedule eases up a bit in 2012. The Oregon and USC games are losses, so they might as well be on the road. With five Pac-12 home games and three light non-conference games, Jon Embree's second season in Boulder should go much better than his first.

No. 42: Minnesota

9 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Michigan, Michigan State, Northwestern, Purdue

    Conference Away Games: Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin

    Notable Non-Conference Games: Syracuse

    Outlook: The Gophers showed a bit of promise late in Jerry Kill's first season and the schedule sets up for continued growth in 2012. Syracuse is the toughest test outside of the Big Ten, and that's in Minneapolis. Missing Indiana isn't a plus, but Minnesota should improve on its 3-9 record in 2011.

No. 41: Vanderbilt

10 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Auburn, Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee

    Conference Away Games: Georgia, Kentucky, Missouri, Ole Miss

    Notable Non-Conference Games: at Northwestern, at Wake Forest

    Outlook: SEC expansion benefited the Commodores, as the scheduled visit from Alabama was cancelled. Getting both Kentucky and Ole Miss on the road is a plus, and the home schedule is very attractive. On the downside, there aren't many breaks outside of the SEC for Vanderbilt, facing both Northwestern and Wake Forest on the road.

No. 40: Arizona State

11 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Oregon, UCLA, Utah, Washington State

    Conference Away Games: Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon State, USC

    Notable Non-Conference Games: at Missouri, Illinois

    Outlook: Todd Graham's first season begins with a bang with two tricky non-league games against Missouri and Illinois. The Sun Devils have five road games in the Pac-12, but missing both Stanford and Washington is a good thing. The home schedule is pretty dull outside of Oregon.

No. 39: USC

12 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Arizona State, California, Colorado, Oregon

    Conference Away Games: Arizona, Stanford, UCLA, Utah, Washington

    Notable Non-Conference Games: vs. Syracuse, Notre Dame

    Outlook: Despite having five Pac-12 road games, the Trojans' first season off of their two-year bowl ban should be a good one. The showdown with Oregon is in Los Angeles, as are rivalry games with California and Notre Dame. The trip to Utah on a Thursday night will be USC's toughest division game.

No. 38: Florida State

13 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Boston College, Clemson, Duke, Wake Forest

    Conference Away Games: Maryland, Miami (FL), N.C. State, Virginia Tech

    Notable Non-Conferene Games: West Virginia*, at South Florida, Florida

    Outlook: The Seminoles always challenge themselves outside of the ACC, and do so again with three BCS-conference foes. The Clemson game will likely decide the ACC Atlantic, and that game's in Tallahassee. Virginia Tech rolling onto the schedule this year isn't a plus, but having Duke as a crossover opponent again helps.

    *This game may be postponed pending West Virginia's 2012 conference affiliation.

No. 37: Georgia Tech

14 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Boston College, Duke, Miami (FL), Virginia

    Conference Away Games: Clemson, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia Tech

    Notable Non-Conference Games: BYU, at Georgia

    Outlook: Georgia Tech gets a nice break by saying goodbye to N.C. State and adding Boston College. Unfortunately, most of the Yellow Jackets' key games are on the road. Tech has lost six straight at home to Georgia, so that game might as well be in Athens. Topping 2011's eight wins won't be easy.

No. 36: Maryland

15 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Florida State, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Wake Forest

    Conference Away Games: Boston College, Clemson, North Carolina, Virginia

    Notable Non-Conference Games: at Temple, Connecticut, at West Virginia

    Outlook: While 2012 can't go much worse than 2011 did for Maryland, the Terrapins do go from eight games at home to six. North Carolina replaces Miami in the ACC rotation, which is basically a wash. Going to West Virginia outside of conference won't be a treat, and Temple could be the best team in the MAC.

No. 35: Nebraska

16 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Michigan, Minnesota, Penn State, Wisconsin

    Conference Away Games: Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern, Ohio State

    Notable Non-Conference Games: Southern Miss, at UCLA, Arkansas State

    Outlook: Nebraska was welcomed to the Big Ten with the short end of the stick in terms of crossover games, facing Ohio State, Penn State, and Wisconsin in each of its first two seasons in the league. Southern Miss and Arkansas State could be a bit tricky outside of conference, but the trip to UCLA will likely turn the Rose Bowl into Memorial Stadium West.

No. 34: Stanford

17 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Arizona, Oregon State, USC, Washington State

    Conference Away Games: California, Colorado, Oregon, UCLA, Washington

    Notable Non-Conference Games: Duke, at Notre Dame

    Outlook: All the key North division games are on the road, as the Cardinal must go to Eugene, Berkeley, and Seattle. Getting USC at home helps, but Stanford would be better off if that game was in November rather than September once they have an established quarterback. The only non-conference challenge is a mid-October trip to Notre Dame.

No. 33: Missouri

18 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Vanderbilt

    Conference Away Games: Florida, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas A&M

    Notable Non-Conference Games: Arizona State

    Outlook: Being placed in the SEC East is a major help for Missouri, which has the horses to contend for the division title. Having to play Alabama is daunting, but the Tigers avoid Arkansas, Auburn and LSU. Closing with three straight SEC road games is brutal. The non-conference schedule is light, with rebuilding Arizona State the toughest opponent.

No. 32: Clemson

19 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Georgia Tech, Maryland, N.C. State, Virginia Tech

    Conference Away Games: Boston College, Duke, Florida State, Wake Forest

    Notable Non-Conference Games: vs. Auburn, South Carolina

    Outlook: The key game for Clemson is on the road against Florida State, but the other three ACC games away from Death Valley are as good as you can ask for. It's a strong home schedule with Georgia Tech, South Carolina, and Virginia Tech all visiting. The opener in the Georgia Dome with Auburn is crucial after a humbling loss in the Orange Bowl.

No. 31: Mississippi State

20 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Auburn, Arkansas, Tennessee, Texas A&M

    Conference Away Games: Alabama, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss

    Notable Non-Conferene Games: None

    Outlook: The Bulldogs don't like to challenge themselves outside of conference, which makes sense given the murderous SEC slate. Alabama and LSU would beat MSU anywhere, so those games might as well be on the road. Swing games with Auburn, Tennessee and Texas A&M are all in Starkville.

No. 30: Arkansas

21 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Alabama, Kentucky, LSU, Ole Miss

    Conference Away Games: Auburn, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas A&M*

    Notable Non-Conference Game: Tulsa

    Outlook: It would have been interesting had Arkansas played Alabama and LSU at home this season, but it'll get its chance to do so next season. The road schedule offers no breaks, as they play back-to-back SEC games away from home twice. With Texas A&M becoming a conference game, the non-conference schedule should be a joke.

    *Game may be played in Arlington, TX

No. 29: Michigan

22 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Illinois, Iowa, Michigan State, Northwestern

    Conference Away Games: Minnesota, Nebraska, Ohio State, Purdue

    Notable Non-Conference Games: vs. Alabama, at Notre Dame

    Outlook: The Wolverines caught a number of breaks in their 11-2 2011 season, but now must face the No. 3, No. 4, No. 5 and No. 6 all-time winningest teams in 2012, all away from home. Michigan State and Iowa have owned Michigan of late, but both of them must come to Ann Arbor. Playing Alabama at Cowboys Stadium and going to Notre Dame outside of conference makes for a big September.

No. 28: California

23 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Washington

    Conference Away Games: Oregon State, USC, Utah, Washington State

    Notable Non-Conference Game: at Ohio State

    Outlook: If you're looking for a surprise Pac-12 contender, it might be the Golden Bears. Its three toughest division games are all at home in remodeled Memorial Stadium. The road schedule isn't bad other than the trip to USC. Playing Ohio State in Columbus will be a good barometer for where a talented but underachieving program stands.

No. 27: Kentucky

24 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Georgia, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

    Conference Away Games: Arkansas, Florida, Missouri, Tennessee

    Notable Non-Conference Game: at Louisville

    Outlook: There's no Alabama or LSU, but that's about the only good thing that can be said about this slate. Ole Miss rolls off of the schedule, with Arkansas coming on board. Playing Louisville on the road might not even be a winnable game right now for the offensively-challenged Wildcats. The best case appears to be getting to the finale in Knoxville with a chance to make a bowl game.

No. 26: Arizona

25 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon State, USC, Washington

    Conference Away Games: Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, Utah

    Notable Non-Conference Game: Oklahoma State

    Outlook: Rich Rodriguez's first season in Tucson won't be easy, with three BCS bowl teams and USC on the schedule. Oklahoma State visits outside of conference to complete a home-and-home that started last year in Stillwater. Missing Washington State isn't a good thing, but there are eight home games.

No. 25: Miami (FL)

26 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Florida State, North Carolina, N.C. State, Virginia Tech

    Conference Away Games: Boston College, Duke, Georgia Tech, Virginia

    Notable Non-Conference Games: at Kansas State, vs. Notre Dame, South Florida

    Outlook: The road schedule isn't bad, but this is still one of the most difficult slates in the ACC. Florida State and Virginia Tech must both come to Sun Life Stadium, but Miami's home field advantage isn't what it was in the Orange Bowl. The Hurricanes have a return trip to Kansas State after losing at home in 2011, and playing Notre Dame in Chicago is a de facto road game.

No. 24: Oregon State

27 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Arizona State, California, Oregon, Utah, Washington State

    Conference Away Games: Arizona, Stanford, UCLA, Washington

    Notable Non-Conference Games: Wisconsin, at BYU

    Outlook: Yikes. The Beavers will have to rebound from consecutive losing seasons against a killer schedule. There are five Pac-12 home games, but Oregon State again plays Wisconsin and BYU outside of conference. Missing USC is a plus, but missing Colorado is anything but a plus.

No. 23: Tennessee

28 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Alabama, Florida, Kentucky, Missouri

    Conference Away Games: Georgia, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Vanderbilt

    Notable Non-Conference Games: vs. N.C. State

    Outlook: It's still an SEC schedule, but it's far better than the gauntlet the Vols faced in 2011. There is a huge game in Atlanta against N.C. State to start the season, which along with the SEC opener against Florida will go a long way to determining Derek Dooley's fate. Having to play Georgia and South Carolina on the road likely precludes any chance of a surprise division title run.

No. 22: Michigan State

29 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Iowa, Nebraska, Northwestern, Ohio State

    Conference Away Games: Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin

    Notable Non-Conference Games: Boise State, Notre Dame

    Outlook: The Spartans have gone 14-2 in Big Ten play over the past two seasons, and this schedule sets up well for another strong season. Getting Indiana and Minnesota as two of their road games is a huge break. Going to Michigan is tough, but MSU has won its last two trips to Ann Arbor. Visits from Boise State and Notre Dame in the first three weeks will test a rebuilt offense.

No. 21: LSU

30 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, South Carolina

    Conference Away Games: Arkansas, Auburn, Florida, Texas A&M

    Notable Non-Conference Game: Washington

    Outlook: It'll be a tough road for the likely preseason No. 1 team, but eight games in Tiger Stadium, including Alabama, make it less daunting. The Arkansas game is on the road, however, and the Bayou Bengals always struggle in Little Rock. Playing a young Auburn team in September is a plus. The non-conference schedule is light, with Washington and three cupcakes.

No. 20: Duke

31 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Clemson, Miami (FL), North Carolina, Virginia

    Conference Away Games: Florida State, Georgia Tech, Virginia Tech, Wake Forest

    Notable Non-Conference Game: at Stanford

    Outlook: It's not pretty for the Blue Devils. Neither Boston College nor Maryland are on the schedule, who are likely the only two ACC teams Duke will be capable of beating. Clemson rotates on next season, and they also draw Florida State from the Atlantic Division. One plus is the non-conference schedule, as the Blue Devils should go 3-1 with the only loss coming at Stanford.

No. 19: South Carolina

32 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Arkansas, Georgia, Missouri, Tennessee

    Conference Away Games: Florida, Kentucky, LSU, Vanderbilt

    Notable Non-Conference Games: East Carolina, at Clemson

    Outlook: Going to both Death Valleys isn't pretty, but the Gamecocks get their biggest SEC East games in Columbia. Normally the trip to Vanderbilt is a walk in the park, but the Commodores are improving and the game will have an electric atmosphere as the Thursday night season opener.

No. 18: Alabama

33 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Texas A&M

    Conference Away Games: Arkansas, LSU, Missouri, Tennessee

    Notable Non-Conference Game: vs. Michigan

    Outlook: The defending national champions could have to face three Top 10 teams away from home, including in the opener against Michigan at Cowboys Stadium. Alabama must visit both Arkansas and LSU, and Missouri in Columbia won't be easy. Other than the Iron Bowl, the home schedule is blah, with three cupcakes, the Mississippi schools and Texas A&M.

No. 17: Florida

34 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Kentucky, LSU, Missouri, South Carolina

    Conference Away Games: Tennessee, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt

    Conference Neutral Site Game: Georgia (Jacksonville)

    Notable Non-Conference Game: at Florida State

    Outlook: SEC expansion did the Gators few favors, as a scheduled game with Ole Miss was lost. Playing Texas A&M in College Station is never a picnic and Kyle Field should be extra loud for the Aggies' first SEC game. The Georgia game in Jacksonville counts as an away game, so the road schedule isn't bad. Playing a Sun Belt team and an FCS team before going to Tallahassee should be a plus.

No. 16: Boston College

35 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Clemson, Maryland, Miami (FL), Virginia Tech

    Conference Away Games: Florida State, Georgia Tech, N.C. State, Wake Forest

    Notable Non-Conference Games: at Northwestern, Notre Dame

    Outlook: Getting back to a bowl after their first losing season since 1998 won't be easy for the Eagles. If the Eagles can finish better than 2-2 outside of the ACC, that would be a pleasant surprise. Georgia Tech replaces Duke in the ACC rotation, which doesn't help. Playing Army at home in mid-October should provide a bit of a relief before the home stretch.

No. 15: Texas

36 of 50

    Conference Home Games*: Baylor, Iowa State, TCU, West Virginia

    Conference Away Games*: Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech

    Conference Neutral Site Game: Oklahoma (Dallas)

    Notable Non-Conference Game: at Ole Miss

    Outlook: While the Big 12 could be the toughest conference in college football next season, Texas has the easiest slate of the 10 teams, but the 15th toughest nationally. The non-conference schedule is light, with Ole Miss in full rebuilding mode, and getting Kansas and Texas Tech on the road is probably a good thing. The Oklahoma game, like always, is at the Cotton Bowl.

    *Projected

No. 14: Washington

37 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Oregon State, Stanford, USC, Utah

    Conference Away Games: Arizona, California, Colorado, Oregon, Washington State

    Notable Non-Conference Game: at LSU

    Outlook: The Huskies will have to likely face three of the top four teams in the preseason polls in LSU, Oregon, and USC. Washington has the toughest schedule in the Pac-12, and missing UCLA and Arizona State doesn't help. Although there are five conference road games, the Huskies should be favored in three of them.

No. 13: Oklahoma State

38 of 50

    Conference Home Games*: Iowa State, TCU, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

    Conference Away Games*: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma

    Notable Non-Conference Game: at Arizona

    Outlook: Defending its Big 12 title won't be easy for Oklahoma State. They'll face the two conference runner-ups, Oklahoma and Kansas State, on the road. There are five conference home games, but a September trip to Arizona could be a trap game.

    *Projected

No. 12: Texas Tech

39 of 50

    Conference Home Games*: Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma, Texas, West Virginia

    Conference Away Games*: Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU

    Notable Non-Conference Games: None

    Outlook: Fortunately the Red Raiders won't be challenging themselves outside of the Big 12, because there aren't any breaks once conference play starts. There are five home games in Big 12 play, but three of those come against teams that won 10 games in 2011, and Texas Tech failed to win a conference game at home in 2011.

    *Projected

No. 11: Baylor

40 of 50

    Conference Home Games*: Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, TCU

    Conference Away Games*: Iowa State, Oklahoma, Texas, Texas Tech, West Virginia

    Notable Non-Conference Game: SMU

    Outlook: Only eight schools have won three or more BCS bowls, and Baylor has to play three of them on the road. The Bears will have only four Big 12 home games, with one coming against lowly Kansas. The non-conference schedule isn't bad, with SMU in Waco the only game that could test Baylor. However, a second straight 10-win season will be difficult.

    *Projected

No. 10: Oklahoma

41 of 50

    Conference Home Games*: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State

    Conference Away Games*: Iowa State, TCU, Texas Tech, West Virginia

    Conference Neutral Site Game: Texas (Dallas)

    Notable Non-Conference Game: Notre Dame

    Outlook: For a Big 12 schedule, it's not that bad, especially the road schedule. The Norman mystique was somewhat lost when a horrible Texas Tech team upset the Sooners in Memorial Stadium, but the home record under Bob Stoops is still tremendous. Playing Notre Dame in late October likely means the bye week will again come in September, which is not a plus.

    *Projected

No. 9: Kansas State

42 of 50

    Conference Home Games*: Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech

    Conference Away Games*: Baylor, Iowa State, Oklahoma, TCU, West Virginia

    Notable Non-Conference Game: Miami (FL)

    Outlook: The Wildcats were very opportunistic in their dream 2011 season, and only time will tell if they can duplicate that success. K-State should sweep its three non-conference games, but they must play four teams that won 10 games in 2011 on the road, and Iowa State always gives them trouble. Kansas is awful, so the Wildcats would be better if that game were on the road instead of in Manhattan.

    *Projected

No. 8: Notre Dame

43 of 50

    Home Games: BYU, Michigan, Pittsburgh, Purdue, Stanford, Wake Forest

    Away Games: Boston College, Michigan State, Oklahoma, USC

    Neutral Site Games: Navy (Ireland), Miami (FL) (Chicago)

    Outlook: As usual with the Irish, the schedule has no cupcakes on it. Oklahoma begins a two-year series against Notre Dame, so the Irish will play two national title contenders on the road in the Sooners and USC. On the plus side, there are only four true road games. The Michigan game at home will be crucial. Facing Purdue just seven days after playing in Ireland could be a trap game.

No. 7: Texas A&M

44 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Arkansas*, Florida, LSU, Missouri

    Conference Away Games: Alabama, Auburn, Mississippi State, Ole Miss

    Notable Non-Conference Game: at SMU

    Outlook: Welcome to the SEC, Aggies. The SEC West will again be the toughest division in college football, and the Aggies are stuck with four division road games, with potentially another one at a neutral site. Both crossover games are at home, but Missouri has won in College Station in each of the past two seasons. Going to SMU in non-conference play won't be a breeze.

    *Game may be played in Arlington, TX

No. 6: Kansas

45 of 50

    Conference Home Games*: Iowa State, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas

    Conference Away Games*: Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia

    Notable Non-Conference Games: None

    Outlook: If Charlie Weis thought his schedules at Notre Dame were difficult, wait until he sees his first one at Kansas. There are six road games, with five of those against teams that won 10 games in 2011. The Jayhawks should open with two wins, but they'll be hard-pressed to find a third the rest of the season.

    *Projected

No. 5: TCU

46 of 50

    Conference Home Games*: Iowa State, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech

    Conference Away Games*: Baylor, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Texas, West Virginia

    Notable Non-Conference Game: Virginia, at SMU

    Outlook: The Horned Frogs will be making their debut in a BCS conference in 2012, and will have to quickly adjust to the weekly grind of playing in the Big 12. They'll have five conference road games, including a trip to Austin on Thanksgiving, where they were blown out in 2007. TCU will also play Virginia and rival SMU outside of conference. The Frogs may be yearning for New Mexico and UNLV by November.

    *Projected

No. 4: West Virginia

47 of 50

    Conference Home Games*: Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma, TCU

    Conference Away Games*: Iowa State, Oklahoma State, Texas, Texas Tech

    Notable Non-Conference Games: at Florida State**, Maryland

    Outlook: The Mountaineers are somewhat in limbo as they try to escape the Big East and join the Big 12, but the school is planning on being a member of the Big 12 by next fall. It will be a far cry from the Big East, as West Virginia will have nine conference games instead of seven. Florida State and Maryland are currently scheduled to play the Mountaineers as well.

    *Projected

    *This game may be postponed pending West Virginia's 2012 conference affiliation.

No. 3: Auburn

48 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Arkansas, Georgia, LSU, Texas A&M

    Conference Away Games: Alabama, Mississippi State, Ole Miss, Vanderbilt

    Notable Non-Conference Game: vs. Clemson

    Outlook: The Tigers will face five teams likely to be in the preseason Top 10, although only one of those is a true road game. The season opener in Atlanta against Clemson could be a springboard to success or a sign of dark days ahead. The non-conference schedule provides three easy wins. Other than Alabama, there can't be any slip-ups on the road.

No. 2: Iowa State

49 of 50

    Conference Home Games*: Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, West Virginia

    Conference Away Games*: Kansas, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas

    Notable Non-Conference Games: Tulsa, at Iowa

    Outlook: Ouch. Paul Rhoads is always proud to be the coach of the Cyclones, but post-game locker room celebrations may be tough to come by in 2012. Not only are there nine conference games, but facing an angry Iowa team and dangerous Tulsa outside of the Big 12 makes this schedule arguably the nation's toughest.

    *Projected

No. 1: Ole Miss

50 of 50

    Conference Home Games: Auburn, Mississippi State, Texas A&M, Vanderbilt

    Conference Away Games: Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, LSU

    Notable Non-Conference Game: Texas

    Outlook:You can't help put pity new Rebels coach Hugh Freeze when you see what he must face next fall. Amazingly, Ole Miss will play four preseason Top 10 teams on the road. Its four SEC home games are all against 2011 bowl teams, and if that's not bad enough, Texas is on the schedule in non-conference play. Fortunately, Rebel fans have The Grove. They won't have much else going for them next season.