Toughest 2009 College Football Schedules
by Trevor Whenham - 7/31/2009
A college football team needs to have a whole lot of talent and even more luck if they want to be a serious contender. They also need to have a friendly schedule. An easy schedule can make an average team look good and a tough schedule could make that same team look terrible. The strength of schedule is also very important for handicappers.
People can think that a team that has lost a few games is a weak team when really it could just look weak compared to their superior opponents. That could create a real betting opportunity when the schedule softens again. On the other hand, how many times can you think of a team that was highly hyped early in the season only to falter later on as they faced the elite of their conference. That seems to happen every year in the Big 12 lately, and they aren't alone. As we get ready for another college football season, here's a look at four teams that are facing fairly brutal schedules this year:
Miami Hurricanes - Miami has some interesting talent and in perfect conditions could be poised to make a big step towards returning to their former glory. That's just not going to happen with the schedule they face this year. The good news is that their fifth and sixth games of the season are very winnable. The problem is that their will to live could be totally beaten out of them by then. They open up on the read against Florida State. That's a tough stadium and a tough rival, but it only gets harder from their. Next up they are home against Georgia Tech and their quirky offense that can make defensive heads hurt. A trip to Virginia Tech is never easy, and the pressure would really be on if they have already lost their first two. Week four is virtually a guaranteed loss. They host Oklahoma, and they almost certainly won't have an answer for Sam Bradford and the offense - even if it isn't likely to be quite as explosive as it has been. Even if they were somehow able to survive that horrific gauntlet they aren't free and clear. Tough trips to Wake Forest, South Florida, and fast rising North Carolina still loom, and Clemson and Virginia will both test them at home.
Oregon Ducks - The Ducks have some intriguing talent - especially on offense. With the right schedule they could post a pretty impressive record. This probably isn't that schedule. They open at Boise State. That smurf turf is in the center of a very inhospitable setting that will be fired up for the major conference opponent. They are at home for their next four, but the firs three will all be a challenge. Purdue is on the rise, Utah is coming off an impressive season, and they open their conference schedule against a tricky opponent in Cal. They are lucky to have USC at home, but the game comes at a tough time - they play four of six on the road and the two home games are against perhaps the toughest opponents - Arizona State and the Trojans. Oregon has the potential to be a conference contender, but it won't be as easy as it could be.
South Carolina Gamecocks - The eastern USC has a very winnable first half of the season - it wouldn't be that surprising to see them at 5-1 at the halfway point if all goes well. A trip to Georgia looms as a very tough spot, and a home game against Ole Miss will require their best, but other than that things look good. If Steve Spurrier hasn't eaten his Wheaties, though, then the squad could conceivably go from 5-1 to 5-7. The second half is truly brutal. It starts out with a trip to Alabama. At home against Vanderbilt the next week should be a little easier, but they could easily get caught looking past it to road games at Tennessee and Arkansas. Next they have to host a Florida team that will quite possibly be fighting for a berth in the BCS championship game. Finally, they host Clemson. That last game could be winnable, but the team could be too exhausted to take advantage of the opportunity by then. If the team starts to falter at any point in that second half then things could get ugly. Spurrier teams haven't always finished strong.
Kansas Jayhawks - Like South Carolina, things start reasonably easy for Kansas. In fact, I will be quite surprised if they aren't 5-0 out of the gate. But then things become almost impossibly hard. Four of the last seven games are on the road, and a fifth is at a neutral site. The road games include a trip to pesky Colorado, a game against a Texas Tech team that will still have a relentless offense, an intense rivalry game at Kansas State, and an almost certain loss at Texas. Mix in a really tough home game against Oklahoma, one that could be almost as tough against Nebraska, and the traditional season-ender against Missouri, and you have a very difficult test. Kansas should have a team that could win their division but they'll have to be even better than they appear to be if they want to come out of this schedule still prominent in the national picture.
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