Earlier, we looked at 10 teams that appear to have favorable schedules
for 2014. Here, thanks to masochistic athletic directors or unreasonable crossover opponent draws, are 10 teams that do not. Obviously, this is speculative.
Arkansas Razorbacks: The Razorbacks ranked 102nd in yards/play defense in 2013. They won’t have much time to settle in 2014. Road trips to Auburn and Lubbock during the first three weeks. The three games following are against Texas A&M, Alabama and Georgia. The Hogs close the season at Mississippi State, LSU, Ole Miss, at Missouri. Cue Bert staring wistfully at Wisconsin’s schedule.
California Bears: Sonny Dykes can curse California’s scheduling czar. The Bears play at Northwestern and BYU in two non-conference games. Three of their four conference home games are Stanford, UCLA and Washington. They play Oregon on a neutral site and make trips to Arizona, Washington State, Oregon State and USC. A year after going winless against FBS, Cal could go winless against FBS. Home vs. Colorado might be the Bears’ best bet.
Florida Gators: Like LSU, the Gators are perpetual victims of the crossover rivalry. Florida plays LSU at home and travels to Alabama for their crossover games. They must play Missouri, Georgia and South Carolina. Road games at Tennessee and Vanderbilt could get tricky. That’s not to mention the season-closer against BCS champion Florida State. Like last season, if Florida falls, it will fall hard. That would be the end for Will Muschamp.
Florida State Seminoles: This won’t be a terrible schedule. But, unlike 2013, the Seminoles face a few opponents who may fight back. Florida State plays Oklahoma State, Notre Dame and Florida non-conference. They play Clemson in Tallahassee, but make road trips to Louisville and to Miami. It will be trickier. But there’s little to discount the Noles being national title favorites.
Minnesota Golden Gophers: The Gophers made a leap forward in 2013. Another in 2014 may prove troublesome. Minnesota drew Michigan and Ohio State as B1G crossover opponents. They have a rough close to the season vs. Iowa, vs. Ohio State, at Nebraska, at Wisconsin. There are also road games against the Wolverines and TCU non-conference. Repeating 8-4 would be a feat.
Notre Dame Fighting Irish: The Irish drop Michigan State and Oklahoma, but the schedule should be brutal nonetheless. Home games against Michigan, Stanford and Louisville. The Irish also have trips to Florida State, Arizona State and USC. That said, Notre Dame’s schedule looked like a bear in 2012, when they finished the regular season 12-0.
Rutgers Scarlet Knights: Rutgers may have a rude arrival in the B1G. Their two crossover opponents are Wisconsin and Nebraska, giving them, perhaps, the five best teams in the conference. Road Games against Ohio State and Nebraska are sandwiched between Michigan and Wisconsin. The Scarlet Knights also play Sparty in East Lansing. Oh, and throw in an opening cross-country flight to Seattle to face Mike Leach because what the heck.
Stanford Cardinal: The Cardinal played one of the nation’s toughest schedules in 2013. Their to do list for 2014 is not much better. Stanford plays Arizona State, Notre Dame, Oregon, UCLA and Washington, away from home. Is this the year Stanford’s BCS streak ends?
Tennessee Volunteers: It’s not quite as bad as 2013 for Tennessee, but still a very strong slate. The Vols have road games at Oklahoma, at Georgia, at Ole Miss, at South Carolina and at Vanderbilt. That’s not to mention Alabama, Florida and Missouri at home. The pressure will ramp up for Butch Jones should Tennessee fail to reach a bowl game. But he will have to do very well to get there.
Virginia Cavaliers: Guess you can’t fault them for ambition. The Cavaliers scheduled UCLA and a road game with BYU non-conference. They have to play Louisville, Pittsburgh, North Carolina and Miami at home. Four of their last six are on the road against Duke, Georgia Tech, Florida State and Virginia Tech. It’s not looking good for Mike London, who went 1-10 vs. FBS in 2013.
[Photos via USA Today Sports]