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College Football’s 10 Toughest Schedules

College Football's 10 Toughest Schedules

As the Sports Gambling Podcast’s official College Football analyst I feel like its my duty to give you guys the no spin zone. I’ve seen several of these list thus far this offseason and I think it’s hilarious just how bad these list have been.

Now when building my criteria I first look at how many away games a certain team has. These are college kids and whether it be college basketball or college football, the road is where it’s hard to catch a W.

I also note anytime a team plays across the country. Then I sought teams that played back-to-back road games and how many times that happened, for your chances for a loss are much more likely if you have to hit the road two weeks in a row. I also noted how many bye weeks a team has and when that bye week occurs.

Finally, I looked at how many Power 5 opponents a team plays and how many FBS opponents are on the schedule. If you play a, FCS team, I deduct points.

Looking back at last year, you can see why I value road games so much — especially back to back road games. Of the 55 Power 5 back-to-back road games that happened last year, only seven times did the team with both. That means Power 5 schools were 7-48 winning both road match ups in a two game stretch. Only seven times did a team win a two-game-road-stretch out 55 two-game-road-stretches.

Last year’s College Football “Playoff” had these four teams in the field: Clemson, Alabama, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. Do you know what they had in common besides making the “Playoff”? None of those teams had to play back-to-back away games all year long.

1. Stanford

College Football's 10 Toughest Schedules

The Cardinal’s schedule is absolutely brutal. They play 11 Power 5 opponents and the 12th game is a road game in Florida at UCF — a team that’s better than most of the Power 5 schools out there.

The Cardinal also have two installments of back to back road games, which is only three of the 10 teams have. Stanford plays at USC on Sep 7, then six days later plays at UCF on the other side of the country.

The second installment comes on November 9 when the Cardinal play at Colorado, and then six days later play at Washington State in Pullman. The reason why Stanford should be number 1 is they could lose every single one of these games.

Away Games: 5
Power 5 Games: 11
Cross Country Trip: 1
Bye Weeks: 2
Back-To-Back Road Trips: 2
FBS Opponents: 12
FCS Opponents: 0

2. USC

Clay Helton is on the hot seat. Hopefully, he hasn’t checked out the schedule yet because if he does he might need to start packing now. The Trojans play six true road games which is just crazy.

Then USC separates themselves from everyone on this list by only having one bye week. You could make the case it’s the hardest schedule in the country. Plus, they have 10 Power 5 opponents with the other two being at BYU and home vs a double-digit-win Fresno State team. Might as well be 12 Power 5 opponents.

USC much like Stanford could lose every single one of these games. There’s no for sure win on the schedule.

Away Games: 6
Power 5 Games: 10
Cross Country Trip: 1
Bye Weeks: 1
Back-To-Back Road Trips: 1
FBS Opponents: 12
FCS Opponents: 0

3. UCLA

College Football's 10 Toughest Schedules
The Bruins are doing second year coach Chip Kelly no favors as he looks to improve his Bruins.

UCLA and USC are the only teams that play six away games on this list. They may only play 10 Power 5 games, but the other two opponents are double-digit-win Cincinnati and San Diego State, who’s 5-1 against the PAC 12 of recent.

The Bruins also start the season off on the other side of the country plus have two rounds of back-to-back road games. Simply brutal for Chip Kelly and company.

Away Games: 6
Power 5 Games: 10
Cross Country Trip: 1
Bye Weeks: 2
Back-To-Back Road Trips: 2
FBS Opponents: 12
FCS Opponents: 0

4. Northwestern

College Football's 10 Toughest Schedules
Pat Fitzgerald is working wonders in Evanston but he’ll sure get tested this fall. The Wildcats open up the season on the other side of the Country and play 10 Power 5 opponents. Plus, they get a brutal back-to-back road game stretch of Wisconsin followed by Nebraska.

Away Games: 5
Power 5 Games: 10
Cross Country Trip: 1
Bye Weeks: 2
Back-To-Back Road Trips: 1
FBS Opponents: 12
FCS Opponents: 0

5. Michigan State

College Football's 10 Toughest Schedules

The Spartans play five away games and four of the five are against teams that have won a lot of recent. Plus, the get 10 Power Conference games with Arizona State coming to Lansing.

The real meat of the schedule and why I have them ranked so high is because they have two back-to-back road game stretches with one being maybe the 2nd hardest in the country with back to back road games at Ohio State and at Wisconsin.

Away Games: 5
Power 5 Games: 10
Cross Country Trip: 0
Bye Weeks: 2
Back-To-Back Road Trips: 2
FBS Opponents: 12
FCS Opponents: 0

6. Michigan

The Wolverines don’t have to hit the road out of conference this year but still have a number of tough games on their schedule. Getting five away games and playing 12 FBS opponents, the Wolverines also have one series of back-to-back road games besides getting a 11-win Army team from a year ago and Notre Dame out of conference.

Away Games: 5
Power 5 Games: 10
Cross Country Trip: 0
Bye Weeks: 2
Back-To-Back Road Trips: 1
FBS Opponents: 12
FCS Opponents: 0

7. Purdue

College Football's 10 Toughest Schedules

The Boilermakers are one of two teams in the list that play 11 Power 5 teams. That’s absolutely nuts plus their only other game besides those 11 is a cross country matchup in Reno against a Nevada team that went bowling last year.

The only weakness on this schedule is that they don’t have to play any back-to-back road games which should really help.

Away Games: 5
Power 5 Games: 11
Cross Country Trip: 1
Bye Weeks: 2
Back-To-Back Road Trips: 0
FBS Opponents: 12
FCS Opponents: 0

8. Texas A&M

Well Jimbo, it’s time to earn your money.

Yes, Texas A&M only plays nine Power 5 opponents. Sure, they are the only team on the list thus far that plays an FCS opponent and you could argue that Texas State should be a FCS team, but the Aggies not only play in the tough SEC West, they have the most brutal back-to-back road game stretch in the country to end the season with Georgia followed by LSU. Simply brutal.

Away Games: 4
Power 5 Games: 9
Cross Country Trips: 0
Bye Weeks: 2
Back To Back Road Trips: 1
FBS Opponents: 11
FCS Opponents: 1

9. LSU

LSU and Coach O sure have their work cut out for them this year. Despite playing in the tough SEC West, LSU heads to Austin to take on the Longhorns.

Plus, they have a pretty tough back-to-back road stretch with Alabama followed by Ole Miss. Even the small mid majors like Georgia Southern and Utah State are good football teams that could test the Tigers.

The FCS game is like a third bye week and really shouldn’t be played.

Away Games: 5
Power 5 Games: 9
Cross Country Trips: 0
Bye Weeks: 2
Back-To-Back Road Trips: 1
FBS Opponents: 11
FCS Opponents: 1

10. Duke

College Football's 10 Toughest Schedules

The lone team from the ACC on the list. Duke basically plays six away games despite it being five on the data. Duke plays a neutral site game against Alabama in Atlanta for some reason.

The Blue Devils also play Notre Dame out of conference as well as a strange road game at Middle Tennessee who was a bowl team last year.

Sure, they play a FCS team, but it’s North Carolina A&T and they’ve proven to be damn good. Duke also plays a back-to-back road stretch traveling to UVA followed by a rivalry game at UNC.

Away Games: 5
Power 5 Games: 10
Cross Country Trips: 0
Bye Weeks: 2
Back-To-Back Road Trips: 1
FBS Opponents: 11
FCS Opponents: 1

Honorable Mention

Rutgers, South Carolina, Iowa, and Colorado

Colby Dant is a stand up comedian and The Sports Gambling Podcast's official college football and basketball expert. Unfortunately he's also a huge Jets fan.

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