USC-Ohio State, Clemson-Alabama, and Missouri-Illinois are big non-conference matchups that just make college football fans everywhere rejoice that college football is back. But many teams steer clear of playing any tough non-conference opponents.
Missouri played Illinois in the first game of the season, but other matchups against SEMO, Nevada, and Buffalo make for a real boring slate of home games—which makes me actually want to listen to my chemistry professor talk about Ionic bonding.
Why would any team put their fans through such misery watching these massacres? The answer is pretty simple: bowl games.
There are going to be 34 bowls this year. That means 68 teams are going to continue their season past Dec. 6.
From the St. Petersburg Bowl to the Gator Bowl, many teams will use these bowl games as a recruiting tactic. They can say to recruits "Hey, we went to the Insight.com bowl, but with you in our program, we can make it to the Fiesta Bowl." It shows progress and a chance to see what needs to be improved to take that next step.
How simple is this: Win 3-5 nonconference games with whatever directional state tech university you play. Then win 2-3 conference games, and you have 6-7 wins which will get you a winning record, plus your program has something to build on.
These bowls are a way to get your program some media coverage, and recruits across the nation can watch your game since all bowls are nationally televised.
But you can also thank the BCS for boring non-conference games. Last year, the Missouri Tigers, who beat two BCS bowl teams in the regular season, were left out of the BCS for the Kansas Jayhawks.
Now the Kansas Jayhawks played a non-conference schedule about as hard as first grade math to a mathematican. Also, they avoided the Big Three in the Big 12 South: Texas Tech, Texas, and Oklahoma.
The only really good team they played was Missouri, and they lost in a game which was 28-7 Missouri heading into the fourth quarter. But Missouri lost the Big 12 championship game, and kU got selected as an at-large team to the Orange Bowl. Missouri fans were furious.
In defense of their decision, the Orange Bowl claimed that they were choosing between a one-loss or a two-loss team, and the decision was clear. Well, when the one-loss team loss to the two-loss team, that logic makes no sense.
Let's give a round of applause to the BCS for proving it doesn't matter who you play—as long as you win against mediocre competition, you will get rewarded.
I fully support athletic departments across the nation scheduling all easy games. Until the whole bowl system rewards teams for playing tough non-conference games like NCAA basketball does, this will not change.