Everyone who follows college football closely knows that out-of-conference scheduling has become an absolute joke for many major conference teams.
In order to analyze who truly has the toughest non-conference schedule in the SEC, I began by giving each team five points. From there, I awarded or deducted points for playing opponents based on their conference affiliation, last year's performance, and location of the game.
Charleston Southern(-5) = -5
Total = - 7
The Wildcats have earned the dubious distinction of having the softest non-conference schedule in the SEC. Although the trip to Louisville could be a treacherous one, the other three teams should provide minimal resistance against a Kentucky team that is looking to play in a fifth consecutive bowl game.
Total = -6
MSU only hurt themselves with this schedule. Although they won’t be given much credit for traveling to Houston, this will be a very dangerous matchup for the Bulldogs as the Cougars can score points at will. The remaining three home dates are far from respectable, as each team finished with a losing record last season and should not provide much of a realistic challenge to the Bulldogs.
Total = -4
An intriguing matchup against the Aggies at Cowboys Stadium does not make up for three games against non-BCS conference teams, including one FCS opponent.
Total = -4
Pat Hill has made it known that Fresno State will play anyone, anywhere. Ole Miss should not take them lightly because FSU has caused problems against Illinois and Wisconsin the past couple seasons. Tulane only won one game in C-USA play last year, so think again if you were believing that could be a possible trap game in New Orleans.
Total = -4
There will be enough orange in Jordan-Hare Stadium to resemble a Dutch soccer match when Clemson comes to town on September 18th. The rest of the schedule should provide three easy wins for an improving Auburn squad coming off an Outback Bowl victory.
San Jose St(-3)
Penn St (+2)
Georgia St (-5)
Total = 0
The date with Penn St. will be one of the most highly anticipated games of the non-conference season in the entire nation. However, San Jose St. finished at the bottom of the WAC last season by winning only one conference game. Georgia State will be playing its first season of collegiate football in 2010, and a trip to Tuscaloosa in November will prove that they have a long way to go before they can begin dreaming of national championships.
Total = 1
Similar to my philosophy during March Madness, I believe in never picking an extension school to win against a major conference team. Therefore, I will not give UT-Martin a chance against UT-Knoxville. A home date with Pac 10 Champion Oregon will definitely capture national interest. A victory against the Ducks would give the Vols great momentum for the rest of their season.
Total = 1
In case you haven’t noticed, Monroe has an incredibly difficult schedule in 2010, and this game with LSU in November will be their last of three road trips to SEC schools. A prime-time kickoff during opening weekend against North Carolina should create an electric atmosphere inside Tiger Stadium, and the date later in the month against West Virginia should be a great display of speed all over the field.
Total = 2
In an odd scheduling quirk, the Gamecocks finish the regular season with two non-conference games in a row. A road game at arch-rival Clemson will always be tough to pull out, and a home date with a Troy team who finished undefeated in conference play last year should also be quite competitive.
at Florida State(+3)
Total = 2
This is an interesting schedule for the Gators as they begin life without Tim Tebow. Games against South Florida and Florida State will be hard fought, but they should result in Gator victories over in-state rivals. The ever-dangerous Mountaineers from Appalachian State will look to pull off another monumental upset like they did in 2007 against Michigan.
The traditional battle with Georgia Tech has been very competitive lately, and a trip to Boulder will provide some challenges for the Bulldogs. Dates with Idaho State and Lafayette should give Georgia two much needed wins in a packed 2010 schedule.
According to my analysis, Vanderbilt has the toughest non-conference schedule in the SEC. The Commodores play against three BCS conference teams, two of which were in bowl games last year. A home game against Eastern Michigan is the only surefire victory this year for Vanderbilt.