Continuing my survey of out of conference (OOC) schedules, I decided to take a look at the Big East, the weakest of the Automatic Qualifying (AQ) conferences.
The Big East is still trying to recover from the ACC's great raid. With only eight teams, the Big East plays more OOC games per team than any other conference. Every single squad plays at least one FCS school, demonstrating again why expanding the regular season to 12 games a few years ago really was a bad idea.
Very few games on this schedule will garnish the Big East any badly needed national recognition.
SE Missouri State (FCS), Fresno State, @ Oregon State, @ Miami (Ohio), Illinois
Defending Big East champion Cincy only plays two AQ schools, but both schools are in the upper levels of their respective conferences.
WAC contender Fresno has been a road warrior for years, playing any one at any time, though without as much conference success since Boise began its dominance in 2002.
@ Ohio, North Carolina, @ Baylor, Rhode Island (FCS), @ Norte Dame
Playing three AQ schools (two of them on the road) would normally garner some respect for UConn's OOC schedule, but none of these teams is as good as Cincy's top two.
Baylor may surprise this year, and who knows where UNC will finish in the ACC.
Indiana State (FCS), @ Kentucky, @ Utah, Southern Miss, Arkansas State
Playing only one AQ squad (and a pretty bad one at that) would normally put Louisville further down this list, except that they scheduled two of the best non-AQ schools in Utah and Southern Miss.
4. West Virginia
Liberty (FCS), East Carolina, @Auburn, Colorado, Marshall
East Carolina, who beat West Virginia last year before flaming out in Conference USA play, may be the toughest game on this schedule.
Normally West Virginia would garner props for playing at Auburn and playing Colorado, but neither is a serious top-25 contender.
Youngstown State (FCS), @ Buffalo, Navy, North Carolina State, Norte Dame
A lot of question marks surround the teams Pitt has scheduled. Buffalo continues to improve, Navy has been tough, NC State may win its division and who knows if Norte Dame will be any good.
This may turn out to be a much better OOC schedule than it looks like at first glance.
6. South Florida
Wofford (FCS), Western Kentucky (FCS to FBS), Charleston Southern (FCS), @Florida State, Miami
Wow, two and a half FCS schools! I know, Western Kentucky is moving to FBS, but still, I think South Florida could have done a little better.
Playing at Florida State is a top-level game, and who knows if Miami will finally be good again.
Minnesota, @ Penn State, Northwestern, Maine(FCS) , Akron
The Big East's worst team plays three Big-10 squads, only one of which is any good.
Even for the pathetic Orangemen, all four home OOC games are winnable.
Howard (FCS), Florida International, @ Maryland, Texas Southern (FCS), @ Army
Even for a conference with a lot of weak OOC games, Rutgers may have one of worst OOC schedules in all of FBS. What a joke!