10 Easiest College Football Schedules, 2013 Version

Nathaniel WaltersCorrespondent IMarch 26, 2013

10 Easiest College Football Schedules, 2013 Version

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    In the middle of March Madness, college football still exists. So while you're monitoring your bracket (yes, you'll beat me), I'm studying college football.

    Let's face it, when it comes to football, some teams have it easier than others simply because of their schedules. They can have just above average talent, but an absurdly easy schedule will make them look much better than they are. 

    Certain other teams vying for national championship spots aren't going to make it simply because their schedules are brutal. I give you the 10 easiest.

    Here is a bit of the breakdown of my criteria.

    • Number of home games.
    • Number of November home games.
    • Number of FCS opponents.
    • Number of teams that finished below .500.
    • Number of teams that finished in the Top 25.

    I used other data as well, but those were the highest deciding factors. One cannot underestimate the values of returning talent, incoming recruits, enormous talent gaps caused by players that have left the program or other factors. This is simply based on the schedule. I also didn't include teams that finished with records below .500 (with one exception).

    And let me get one more thing out of the way.

    Kansas, Colorado and Kentucky, I don't care how easy you think your schedules are. You are the easy schedules. You don't qualify.

10. Kansas State Wildcats

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    Kansas State loses quite a bit of talent from its Big 12 Champion team, but its schedule may help it maintain its elite status in the wide-open conference. 

    Home games: Eight. Three of their first four games and six of their first eight games are at home. That's not bad for a team that may need their fans behind them to keep the magic going. Oklahoma, TCU, Baylor and West Virginia all make the trek to Manhattan.

    November home games: Three. The schedule is daunting in November, but home contests with TCU and Oklahoma are easier played at home.

    FCS opponents: One. It isn't like they went shopping for an easy win here, though. The Wildcats start off the 2013 season with a game against two-time defending FCS Champion North Dakota State. 

    Teams that finished below .500: Three. UMass, Iowa State and Kansas are not exactly juggernauts, and that's good for Kansas State.

    Teams that finished in the Top 25: Two. An early-season trip to Texas, which has a unique inability to beat Kansas State, should show where both teams are. The home game against Oklahoma on Nov. 23 will show if this team is able to survive the season.

9. Duke Blue Devils

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    Remember that team that finished below .500 but still made the list? Yeah, these are the guys. Duke actually finished the season 6-6 and lost (fairly convincingly) to Cincinnati in the Belk Bowl. The Belk Bowl? Really? 

    The Blue Devils want to contend for the ACC Championship this year, and they should. They don't have Florida State or Clemson on their schedule, and they only leave the state of North Carolina three times (not at all in November).

    Home games: Seven

    November home games: Two

    FCS Opponents: One. The North Carolina Central Eagles. Honestly, I've never even heard of them.

    Teams that finished below .500: Five. Memphis, Georgia Tech, Pittsburgh, Virginia and Wake Forest.

    Teams that finished in the Top 25: Zero. Seriously. Not a one.  


8. Florida State Seminoles

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    The defending ACC and Orange Bowl champs may have a tougher road ahead of them in 2013 with the loss of quarterback E.J. Manuel, but the Seminoles will benefit from a schedule that features five teams that finished last year with a losing record and six of their final eight games in the state of Florida.

    Home games: Seven

    November home games: Three

    FCS opponents: One. The Seminoles welcome Bethune-Cookman to Doak Campbell Stadium on Sept. 21.

    Teams that finished below .500: Five. Florida State has the luxury of playing Pittsburgh, Boston College and Maryland, along with the aforementioned Bethune-Cookman, before the middle of October. They also get Wake Forest and Idaho in November.

    Teams that finished in the Top 25: Two. If there are to be any blemishes on their record, they will come when the Seminoles travel to Clemson on Oct. 19 and Gainesville to face the rival Florida Gators to close out the regular season on Nov. 30.

7. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    The two-time defending national champs will have a fairly easy road back to Pasadena and a shot at an unprecedented third straight national championship. You don't usually consider an SEC schedule easy, but this should be a cakewalk for an experienced, hungry Tide squad.

    Games against Florida, Georgia or South Carolina: Zero

    Home games: Seven

    November home games: Two

    FCS opponents: Two. The Tide welcome Georgia State on Oct. 5 and continue the long SEC tradition of playing FCS teams late in the season as they welcome Chattanooga to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 23. 

    Teams that finished below .500: Five. Colorado State, Kentucky, Arkansas, Tennessee and Auburn.

    Teams that finished in the Top 25: Two. Texas A&M and LSU.

6. Rutgers Scarlet Knights

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    First off, um... yeah. Are we sure the Big Ten wants them?

    Second, check out Rutgers' schedule. Sure, any team from the Big East—will that actually be the conference name in September?—should get a pass on the schedule, but this is simply hilarious. I guess that's why there are other teams besides them on the list, though.

    Home Games: Seven

    November home games: Three 

    FCS opponents: One. The Scarlet Knights will take a stab at torturing Norfolk State on Sept. 7.

    Teams that finished below .500: Six. It's almost not fair when you have Houston, Temple, UConn and South Florida on your schedule. It's really not fair when all those games are late in the season. It's extremely unfair that three of those games are late in the season. Sprinkle in Eastern Michigan and Arkansas, and you've got yourself a regular walk in the park.

    Teams that finished in the Top 25: One. Rutgers must travel to Louisville for a Thursday-night game with the Cardinals in mid-October. Do you think that one might be on ESPN?

5. Oregon Ducks

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    If Chip Kelly had decided to spurn the Philadelphia Eagles twice and stayed in Eugene, the Ducks might have the second easiest schedule in the nation in 2013. But as it is, their coaching change actually shakes things up. 

    Home games: Seven

    November home games: Two

    FCS Opponents: One. Although most of us consider the Colorado Buffaloes an FCS team at this point, they're actually still in the Pac 12. Surprising, right? Even so, Oregon does welcome Nicholls State to Eugene on Aug. 31. It's the first game of the season, and I imagine people will want to see what changes happen with the Ducks this year. My guess: Don't expect to see anything out of the ordinary in this beatdown.

    Teams that finished below .500: Six. This is somewhat surprising because the conference was actually fairly strong in 2012, but the Ducks also have two out-of-conference foes that were ineligible for bowl games last season when Oregon State travels to Virginia and when it hosts Tennessee in September. Their conference slate includes home games with Cal, Washington State and Utah as well as a game at Colorado. 

    Teams that finished in the Top 25: One. Oregon travels to Stanford on Nov. 11 after a bye week. Remember how this one ended last year? I know ESPN is salivating just considering the possibilities.

4. Ohio State Buckeyes

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    Ohio State currently has the longest winning streak in college football, and there's no reason to believe that will not continue deep into 2013. They have one of the nation's best and most durable quarterbacks and are again eligible to play in the Big Ten Football Championship Game.

    With their schedule, there's no reason to believe they won't. The Buckeyes trade Nebraska and Michigan State for Northwestern and Iowa, and their non-conference opponents should be a breeze.

    Home games: Seven. Only one game that matters is at home, though. That's Wisconsin on Sept. 28.

    November home games: One. This could be a bit of an issue because three of their last four games are on the road, but it isn't like they have a gauntlet of a finishing schedule.

    FCS opponents: One. The Buckeyes host Florida A&M on Sept. 21.

    Teams that finished below .500: Six. This is where their schedule really stands out. They have home games with Buffalo, Iowa and Indiana, and they travel to Cal, Purdue and Illinois. The games with the Boilermakers, Illini and Hoosiers are consecutive in November.

    Teams that finished in the Top 25: Two. They travel to Northwestern on Oct. 5 and have The Game at Michigan on Nov. 30. On the schedule, there are four teams that had losing records between these two, though.

3. Nebraska Cornhuskers

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    The first two years in the Big Ten were fairly brutal for the Cornhuskers. They played home and away games with Wisconsin, Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, Northwestern and Iowa.

    They managed to finish with the best two-year record in the conference through that gauntlet and now get a reprieve. Goodbye, Ohio State and Wisconsin. Hello, Purdue and Illinois.

    Home games: Eight. The Huskers start out with five straight home games. That's not bad for your early-season revenue.

    November home games: Three. So Nebraska has five home games to start the season and then three home games in November. It doesn't hurt that Northwestern, Michigan State and Iowa, who will attempt to help Michigan dethrone the defending Legends Division Champions, are in Lincoln in November.

    FCS Opponents: One. Nebraska welcomes South Dakota State back to Memorial Stadium a week after a revenge game against UCLA. This might seem like a walk in the park, but the Jackrabbits did put a scare into the Huskers before succumbing 17-3 in 2010.

    Teams that finished below .500: Six. Nebraska plays Wyoming, Southern Miss, Illinois and Iowa in Lincoln, while playing road games against Purdue and Minnesota. Oh, and the Purdue and Minnesota games are back-to-back.

    Teams that finished in the Top 25: Two. Nebraska plays Northwestern and travels to Michigan in consecutive weeks to start November. If there is a tough stretch in their schedule, this is it. It isn't exactly a grind.

2. Cincinnati Bearcats

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    The Bearcats are the second Big East team on the list, but it's for good reason. As with Rutgers, they are enjoying the addition of Houston, Memphis and SMU to the conference.

    Will the conference's overall mediocrity lead to teams such as Cincy, Rutgers and Louisville having records that look better than the team actually is? Sure, but that won't matter until the playoffs begin.

    Home games: Six. This is actually a low number for a team with an easy record, but the games at home mean so much. Louisville, Temple and UConn all have to venture to Cincinnati.

    November home games: Two. This actually isn't all that bad, especially with Louisville visiting on Dec. 5.

    FCS Opponents: One. The Bearcats host Northwestern State on Sept. 14.

    Teams that finished below .500: Eight. This is why the schedule is easy. They host Purdue, Temple, UConn and SMU while traveling to Illinois, South Florida, Memphis and Houston. How would Alabama love this schedule?

    Teams that finished in the Top 25: One. The Bearcats host aforementioned Louisville the last weekend of the season. If both teams play up to their potential, that game could be for the Big East Championship.

1. Louisville Cardinals

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    Oh my goodness, have you ever seen an easier schedule for a team that just won their conference and took Florida down in the Sugar Bowl?

    Seriously, if this team doesn't win the Big East this year, it might be the biggest disappointment since Netflix decided to delay allowing me to watch Season 3 of Archer until just recently.

    Home games: Seven.

    November home games: Two.

    FCS opponents: One. The Cardinals host Eastern Kentucky on Sept. 7.

    Teams that finished below .500: Six. Seriously: six. Kentucky, Florida International, Temple, South Florida, Houston and Memphis. 

    Teams that finished in the Top 25: Zero. This is even better. Louisville doesn't play a single team that finished the 2012 season ranked. Sure they're in the Big East, which is falling apart even as they attempt to expand, but this is just funny. They're the Gonzaga of college football.