While college basketball invented the term "cupcake" when it comes to scheduling early-season opponents, college football teams have started to do the same thing.
Many big-name college football teams will schedule what they call "guarantee" games. These are games where they pay a smaller school to come in and get pounded in return for a lump sum of money to help fund their athletic department.
Whether they want to admit it or not, every major university has at least a few of these on their schedule.
Some teams do attempt schedule big-name opponents to prepare themselves for their upcoming conference schedule. However, particularly in college football, universities need to be careful, as one loss can ruin a season.
In 2010, the University of Cincinnati has scheduled itself the perfect blend of "cupcakes" and tough non-conference games to prepare themselves for the Big East.
The Bearcats open the season against Fresno State on the road. The Bulldogs were impressive last season, finishing the season 8-5. Out of the Bulldogs' five losses, four came to the likes of Cincinnati, Boise State, Wisconsin, and Nevada. Traveling all the way out there is no easy way to begin the season.
The home opener for Cincinnati is against proverbial cupcake Indiana State, which finished last season 1-10 and is prepared to take the beating the Bearcats are going to give them.
After the only cupcake of the season, Cincinnati returns to the road for a contest against North Carolina State out of the ACC. This will be a nationally televised Thursday night contest on ESPN. The Bearcats have scheduled games like this to get exposure for a team on the rise.
Cincinnati then returns home for the biggest non-conference game in nearly a decade as the Oklahoma Sooners travel to the Queen City for one of the biggest September games of the college football season. Both teams will likely be undefeated and in the top 20.
The game is at Paul Brown Stadium, and the result will have a lasting impact on the Cincinnati program—not only in 2010, but in the years to come.
The final non-conference game for Cincinnati is the Battle for the Victory Bell against Miami (OH). The Bearcats and Redhawks will renew one of the oldest rivalries in college football.
The five-game non-conference schedule for Cincinnati is certainly a compilation of teams of many different talent levels. The Bearcats will not only take on a few big-name teams, but they will also take to the road for a few difficult early season matchups.
The schedule is challenging, but it's nothing the Bearcats can't handle, and if they make it through September unscathed, another undefeated season and a Big East three-peat is a strong possibility.