It’s always interesting to see how the major BCS conferences’ non-conference schedules compare to one another each and every season. Being not just a Hawkeye fan, but a college football fan in general, I always love to see the big non-conference games early on in the season. It’s kind of like an early bowl game, and it’s great to see programs that aren’t afraid to face real competition, even if it means a potential loss.
With that said, given the new circumstances coming for college football in 2014 with the 4 team playoff, we will undoubtedly see many more of these games in the coming years, as strength of schedule is going to be a key component in determining the top 4 teams that are selected. This alone should make college football fans happy.
As a Big Ten fan, I also like to see a relatively strong non-conference slate for the Big Ten conference. Now I don’t exactly expect the Indiana’s and Minnesota’s of the conference to “schedule up”, but I do prefer to see at least 1 decent non-conference opponent for the power teams of the conference. That being said, the Gophers showed the world they weren’t intimidated to do so by scheduling a game with the USC Trojans last year, at the Coliseum none-the-less. Despite an ugly first half, Minnesota gave them everything they could handle in the 2nd half and only lost by a final score of 19-17, making Big Ten fans (and yes, even this Iowa fan) proud of their effort and thankful at the same time that they could represent the conference well, despite being a HUGE underdog.
I think it would be difficult for many to knock the Big Ten’s non-conference slate this season, as what most would consider 3 of the top 4 non-conference games in all of college football this year will feature Big Ten teams. Here’s a list compiled from “Lindy’s Sports” 2012 Big Ten Preview listing the top 12 non-conference games of this season (for all of college football).
#1- Michigan vs. Alabama (Sept. 1st @ Cowboy Stadium in Arlington, TX)
#2- Notre Dame @ Oklahoma (Oct. 27th)
#3- Michigan @ Notre Dame (Sept. 22nd)
#4- Boise State @ Michigan St. (Aug. 31st)
#5- Florida @ Florida St. (Nov. 24th)
#6- S. Carolina @ Clemson (Nov. 24th)
#7- Notre Dame @ USC (Nov. 24th)
#8- BYU @ Utah (Sept. 15th)
#9- Auburn vs. Clemson (Sept. 1st in Atlanta)
#10- Miami vs. Notre Dame (Oct. 6th @ Soldier Field in Chicago, IL)
#11- Washington @ LSU (Sept. 8th)
#12- Navy vs. Notre Dame (Sept. 1st in Dublin, Ireland)
Hmmm, I only saw one Big 12 team on there, and that one game is @ home for the Sooners. Interesting. We may have to address the Big 12’s non-conference slates in a separate article (and yes, I realize you only have 3 non-conference games instead of 4). Needless to say, I think the Big Ten has a respectable non-conference slate this year, and here’s a look at each individual team’s non-conference opponents (in Alphabetical order).
(*indicates neutral site).
Illinois (Western Michigan, @ Arizona St., Charleston Southern, Louisiana Tech)
Indiana (Indiana St., @ UMass, Ball State, @ Navy)
Iowa (*N. Illinois, Iowa State, UNI, Central Michigan)
Michigan (*Alabama, Air Force, UMass, @ Notre Dame)
Michigan St. (Boise State, @ Central Michigan, Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan)
Minnesota (@ UNLV, New Hampshire, Western Michigan, Syracuse)
Nebraska (Southern Miss, @ UCLA, Arkansas State, Idaho State)
Northwestern (@ Syracuse, Vanderbilt, Boston College, South Dakota)
Ohio St. (Miami (OH), UCF, California, UAB)
Penn St. (Ohio, @ Virginia, Navy, Temple)
Purdue (Eastern Kentucky, @ Notre Dame, Eastern Michigan, Marshall)
Wisconsin (UNI, @ Oregon State, Utah State, UTEP)
And here’s a list of my top ten (can’t miss) Big Ten non-conference games for this season.
#1- Michigan vs. Alabama (Sept. 1st)
#2- Boise State @ Michigan St. (Aug. 31st)
#3- Iowa State @ Iowa (Sept. 8th)
#4- Michigan @ Notre Dame (Sept. 22nd)
#5- Michigan St. vs. Notre Dame (Sept. 15th)
#6- Iowa vs. UNI (Sept. 15th)
#7- Ohio State vs. Cal (Sept. 15th)
#8- Iowa vs. N. Illinois (Sept. 1st)
#9- Nebraska @ UCLA (Sept. 8th)
#10- Purdue @ Notre Dame (Sept. 8th)
Illinois @ Arizona St. (Sept. 8th)