It’s never too early to talk college football. Never.
Even if the calendar say it’s barely summer, fall cannot get here fast enough. So over the next two weeks or so, Kermit the Blog will count down the 10 Easiest Schedules of the 2007 College Football season. We’re aiming for one a day (weekday), but we’re lazy, so it might take longer. Thankfully we’ve got time.
#9 The University of Texas
Sure, they were shut out, but that means they held the Tigers to only 27 points at their place. This seems a little loves-and-fishes given that the Indians lost 29-0 the previous week at Florida Atlantic.
For the remainder of the non-conference schedule there are two ways to look at it. If you bleed burnt orange, you’d say: “Hey, we’re playing a team that finished last year in the Top 25, then going on the road to play in Florida before finishing with a bowl team from ’06.”
If you are less partial you’d say, “Hey, you’re playing TCU, Central Florida, and Rice.”
Prior to the 2006 season, the last time Rice had been to a bowl, Jim Crow laws were still being enforced. That’s not a joke. But after starting last year, 1-5, the Owls won their last 6 (including 4 on the last possession) to earn a bid to the New Orleans bowl. But against their non-CUSA foes from BCS conferences, Rice went 0-3 and was outscored 133-30, including a 52-7 pasting by Texas in Houston.
In that game, the Horns held the Owls to minus-12 yards rushing. Although ‘held’ seems a bit inappropriate as it implies progress that was slowed. Oh, and the entire coaching staff behind Rice’s minor miracle bowl run last year is gone.
So the Owls might have become more competitive against teams lodged in a similar talent strata, but, over the last 4 meetings, Texas has beaten Rice by an average score of 47 – 9.
Central Florida went 4-8 in 2006. Put it this way: they were one of 2 teams that Rice didn’t need last second heroics by Jarret Dilllard to beat. Yes, Texas goes on the road to UCF, but this is more of a recruiting trip than a football game.
TCU is a little more curious. They went 11-2 and finished the season ranked #22. But the best team they played all year, BYU, beat them at their place and did so pretty handily. Of the teams they beat, only one had a winning record. And the winning percentage for all of the teams they beat was .380 (46-75). And this was in the MWC, so these were below average teams losing to belower average teams.
They are returning nine on a defense that gave up only 12.8 points per last year but their D-line averages about 6′ 2″ – 252 lbs. They will be going up against a Texas O-line going about 6′ 4″ and 307 lbs. That’s over 50 pounds a man. So season-end ranking aside, TCU just doesn’t have the size (or speed) to match-up with Texas. Additionally, coming out of spring the Horned Frogs still don’t have the QB position locked down.
This game might be interesting for a quarter and a half. Strategically though, it’s a pretty brilliant move for when Mack Brown goes to national radio to lobby for a BCS game bid at season’s end. The number of ranked teams he can say he’s played will be plus-one what it would be otherwise. So it’s the best of both worlds: a cake game that looks pretty un-cake as a number.
From a conference perspective. The Big-12 North is just bad. Texas does have the toughest team from the North, Nebraska, but they get them at home. They have also owned the Huskers since the formation of the Big 12.
Tech always gives the Horns trouble.
In Austin, they pee themselves.
At Oklahoma State and at A&M might be decent games, but if you are a Horn fan the only date on the schedule that makes you nervous is the game in Dallas on October 6. Well, actually as long as Greg Davis is on staff any game might make you nervous, but on talent alone Texas is already in the BCS picture. The only big hurdle is OU. They’ve got equal talent and better coaching.
There are probably teams with weaker schedules top to bottom, but the criteria are arbitrary and the scale sliding (Hey, you don’t like it, start your own blog. The barriers to entry are non-existent). The bigger the power you are, the more you should challenge your players and reward your fans (i.e. if you are Southwest Missouri State, you are allowed to schedule Arkansas State; but if you are Texas, doing so kind of makes your AD seem like a big pussy). And you don’t even have to do it much. Just playing one legit team from another BCS conference is probably enough to keep you off this list.
For example, this could have just as easily been Florida in the 9-spot as they open with home games against Western Kentucky and Troy State—Maybe the Gators need a couple of games to teach Tim Tebow a play besides the one where he just runs straight into the line—before a late season dust up with Florida Atlantic. The only thing saving the Gators from abject embarrassment is the rivalry game with Florida State to end the season.
Point being: A program like Texas should play losable non-conference games. And if not games, then game. At least one. Yes, you might lose but it can cut the other way as winning in Columbus in ’05 helped launch Texas through its National Championship run.
So after playing a home-and-home with Ohio State, clearing your non-conference schedule of even a middling BCS opponent is super weak. You’d think the biggest university of a state where more people go to high school games on Friday nights than to church on Sunday mornings would be a little manlier in its approach to scheduling and test themselves against teams that might actually pose a physical match-up a little more often, but the BCS rewards wins not nads.
University of Texas 2007 Football Schedule
9/1 Arkansas State
9/15 at Central Florida
10/6 Oklahoma (at Dallas)
10/13 at Iowa State
11/3 at Oklahoma State
11/10 Texas Tech
11/23 at Texas A&M
The Rest of the List