Each year, college footballs powerhouses fill their non-conference schedules with easy games to ensure bowl eligibility, and this season is no different.
Here are this year’s top 10 games that absolutely should not be played, and certainly shouldn’t even be watched by anybody. When these games are on, please feel free to go to Bed Bath and Beyond, get your unibrow waxed, wash the mini-van, or whatever it is you normally do when college football isn’t on.
To qualify for this exclusive list, games must be non-conference matchups (otherwise this would be a list of Baylor’s 10 best opponents). Also, it’s not an oversight, I just refuse to acknowledge that bogus “FCS” stuff. It’s I-AA.
Rankings according to Athlon Sports.
10. (13) Kansas vs. (119) FIU – Aug. 30
If you had to pick one story that best represented last year's crazy season, it just might be Kansas going 12-1 and winning a BCS bowl. The Jayhawks, who were one of only two teams (Hawaii) to finish the 2007 season with one loss, return their core in 2008. Florida International is currently ranked dead last out of the 119 D-I college football teams. Enough said.
9. (12) Wisconsin vs. (113) Akron – Aug. 30
With Michigan likely to have a down year, Wisconsin has a pretty good opportunity to challenge Ohio State for the Big Ten crown. Look for the Badgers to start the season off on the right foot against the Zips.
And don’t expect things to slow down the following week when they take on No. 107 Marshall. Oh, and in case the Badgers need to blow off a little extra steam after their Big Ten schedule takes them out of national title contention, they get I-AA Cal Poly on Nov. 22 in a bowl-preparation scrimmage—I refuse to acknowledge this as an actual game. This schedule is Ryan Leaf-pathetic.
8. (17) Tennessee vs. (109) UAB – Sep. 13
Remember UAB’s NCAA tournament run a few years back? I get the feeling these Dragons won’t experience the same magic that those Dragons did. Just another convenient money game.
7. (19) Oregon vs. (117) Utah St. – Sep. 6
Utah State is perennially one of the worst teams in the country. Oregon is known for great football in the early months of the season—usually before some sort of disappointing collapse. But this matchup will certainly precede that collapse, and it spells trouble for the Aggies.
6. (13) Kansas vs. (I-AA) Sam Houston State – Sep. 20
When I hear the name Sam Houston State I get confused. Is it a person? Is it a city? Is it a state? Nope, it's just another non-conference gimmie for the Jayhawks.
5. (1) Florida vs. (I-AA) The Citadel – Nov. 22
When your quarterback has already contributed to a national championship and taken home the Heisman before his junior season, you should be scheduling better non-conference opponents than the Citadel (who had a decent 7-4 season last year, albeit in I-AA’s Southern Conference). The preseason no. 1 Gators get no love for this on-field bye week.
4. (3) Oklahoma vs. (I-AA) Chattanooga – Aug. 30
Not only is Chattanooga a I-AA school, but they’re a bad one at that. The Mocs suffered through a 2-9 season last year, and can’t be looking forward to their date with Big 12 contender Oklahoma. Also, their nickname is the Mocs. What's that about?
3. (114) ULM at (8) Auburn – Aug. 30
Here are two things that are very possible in 2008: Auburn winning the SEC, college football's best conference, and Louisiana-Monroe finishing last in the Sun Belt, the country’s worst conference. Here’s one thing that’s absolutely impossible: Auburn losing to ULM at home on August 30.
2. (2) Ohio St. vs. (110) Ohio – Sep. 6
No game on the 2008 schedule features two D-I teams ranked further apart. Ohio State is a legitimate threat to actually win the national championship this year, as opposed to losing its third consecutive title game.
The only reason the Bucs get away with this game is because both schools are in Ohio. And because they also play USC in the non-conference. Oh yeah, and because everybody gets away with games like this. The Buckeys also booked games against Troy and Youngstown State for good measure.
1. (9) LSU vs. (95) Troy - Sep 6, (108) North Texas – Sep. 13, (111) Tulane – Nov. 1
Mentioning just one of LSU’s non-conference opponents wouldn’t be doing their schedule justice. When they’re not going head to head against their SEC rivals in the toughest conference in football, they’re not really doing much of anything.
The defending champs have a Downy-soft non-conference schedule, including dates with three of the nation’s bottom 25 teams. Their single “respectable” non-conference opponent: I-AA Appalachian State. Don’t get me started on that.