Grading out the Top 25's non-con schedules

Are Lester and his fist pump ready for arguably the toughest non-con schedule in 2011? (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

I have no original thoughts and have stolen this idea, format, and grades from the only person who has ever done this before in the history of the world. Here is the proof.  (Happy now commenter?)

It's always interesting to look around the country and check out some of the other non-con schedules and take from it, what you can anyway, withrespect to that coach or school's general philosophy on scheduling.  As an OU fan, another thing I've always kind of found interesting is Stoops'well known coaching pedigree coming from K-State and from under Bill Snyder yet the two have such a different take on putting together a non-con schedule.  Thankfully, for Sooner Nation's and perhaps more importantly season ticket holders sake, that was not a trait he inherited from his early mentor.  OUis very proud of their scheduling philosophy and never hesitates to bring it up when relevant to the conversation, so this little exercise will allow us to gauge where we stack up with some of the other teams in the Top 25.  Let us jump right into it with your #1 Oklahoma Sooners.

1. Oklahoma

Sept. 3: vs. Tulsa, C
Sept. 17: at Florida State, A+
Oct. 1: vs. Ball State, D-
Overall grade:C+ to B- 

A lot of people are quickly overlooking the in-state opener and understandably focusing on the big matchup with FSUin the third week of the season.  Not that I expect OUto struggle with Tulsa, but the defense will most definitely be challenged and TU could put up some points on the Sooners.  Tulsa is a fringe top 25 team and if this were a road game it probably would have been bumped up to a C+ or B-.  One of the most highly anticipated non-con matchups of the 2011 season, the FSUgame pretty much speaks for itself.  Ball State is basically a guaranteed win, so I won't insult your intelligence by trying to convince you of anything other than that.  Overall, could be better but generally pretty strong.

2. Alabama

Sept. 3: vs. Kent State, F
Sept. 10: at Penn State, B-
Sept. 17: vs. North Texas, D-
Nov. 19: vs. Georgia Southern, F-
Overall grade: D-

Hello cupcakes!  NorthTexas is a joke.  Kent State is even worse.  Calling Georgia Southern a glorified scrimmage wouldn't do justice to glorified scrimmages.  I was generous with the Penn State games because (1) it's on the road and (2) as we all know these games are scheduled so far out (for the most part) that it's impossible to predict how good or bad a team may be by the time the game finally rolls around.  So when it was scheduled, Penn State probably looked much tougher then than it does now.

3. Oregon

Sept. 3:vs. LSU (Arlington, TX), A+
Sept. 10: vs. Nevada, C-
Sept. 17: vs. Missouri State, F-
Overall grade: C+

The LSU game is just as big, if not bigger, than the OU vs. FSUgame.  No brainer A+.  They caught a tough break, or positive one depending on how you look at it, with Nevada now that Colin Kaepernickis a 49er.  Missouri State, really?

4. LSU

Sept. 3: vs. Oregon (Arlington, TX), A+
Sept. 10: vs. Northwestern State, F-
Sept. 24: at West Virginia, A
Nov. 12: vs. Western Kentucky, F
Overall grade: B-

Talk about your extremes.  Oregon, big thumbs up.  WVU, another big thumbs up.  The other two, barf sandwich.  Though surely Lester and his brilliant clock managementskills can find a way to keep at least one of those turd games interesting for at least a half right? 

5. Florida State

Sept. 3: vs. Louisiana-Monroe, F
Sept. 10: vs. Charleston Southern, F-
Sept. 17: vs. Oklahoma, A+
Nov. 26: at Florida, C+
Overall grade: C

The Seminoles clearly did themselves a favor by scheduling to practices prior to the big showdown with OU.  New starting QB E.J. Manuel will have no issues settling into the offense before facing his biggest test as a full time starter when the Sooners come to town.  Somemay take issue with the UF grade, but until John Brantely proves to be adept at something other than carrying Tim Tebow's clipboard I ain't buying.

6. Stanford

Sept. 3: vs. San Jose State, F
Sept. 10: at Duke, C-
Nov. 26:vs. Notre Dame, B+
Overall grade: C

Question - Do we even have to play the season before awarding Andrew Luck the Heisman?  I mean if we just give him the award now can we then rid ourselves of all the talking heads on ESPiN drooling over the kid all year and trying to convince us the 195 yards 1 TD performance he just put up against Cal shows why every team in the NFL would be a fool not to pull a Ditkain next year's draft?  Trust me, it's coming.  As far as their actual schedule, meh. Nothing all that impressive, moving on.

7. Boise State

Sept. 3: at Georgia, A+
Sept. 16: at Toledo, C
Sept. 24: vs. Tulsa, C-
Oct. 1: vs. Nevada, C
Oct. 7: at Fresno State, C+
Overall grade: C

Here we go, everybody'sfavorite white horse comes riding in.  UGA game, much like last year's matchup withVa Tech, quickly determines whether or not we have to hear about these guys all year long.  Lose and we all win.  Win and we all lose.  Pretty simple IMO.  The rest is a collection of yawners and arguments for those who believe they shouldn't be national title contenders.

8. Oklahoma State

Sept. 3: vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, F
Sept. 10: vs. Arizona, B-
Sept. 17: at Tulsa, C+
- Overall grade: C+

A laugher in their opener before a much tougher matchup withArizona, but one I (sadly) still expect them to win fairly comfortably.  If it was a road game, maybe I could pick the upset, but at home I think they take care of Mike Stoops and Zona.  The TU game could be one of the highest scoring games of the entire season, but wait, I'm forgetting the OSUfans and how they keep telling us how improved their defense is going to be this year.  Is it just me or does it feel like we hear how "this year will be different" from them about this same time every year?  Yeah, I thought so.

9. Texas A&M

Sept. 4:vs. SMU, C+
Sept. 17: vs. Idaho, D
Oct. 1: vs. Arkansas (Arlington, TX), A
Overall grade: C+

If things, realignment wise, continue to play out as they seem today Big XII-2 fans outside College Station could be in for a miserable season.  I know A&M and misery typically go hand -in-hand, so what would really be different you might be asking?  Well if you thought Nebraska fans and their conspiracytheories of Big XII officials screwing them over on their way out of the league were annoying, oh brother you have no idea what could be in store.  The only thing one could imagine that would be worse, A&M beating Arkieand the inevitable stupidity surely to follow of how beating the Hogs (one time mind you) validates all their talk of walking into the SEC and winning on a regular basis.  Oh my, if the gods are just they will surely see fit to prevent this from happening.  For everyone's sake.

10. Wisconsin

Sept. 3:vs. UNLV, D-
Sept. 10: vs. Oregon State, C+
Sept. 17: vs. Northern Illinois (Chicago), C-
Sept. 24: vs. South Dakota, F-
Overall grade: D+

Not much to get excited about here.  Pretty much just four gimmies.  Jump around?

11. Nebraska

Sept. 3: vs. Tennessee-Chattanooga, F-
Sept. 10: vs. Fresno State, C-
Sept. 17: vs. Washington, C
Sept. 24: at Wyoming, D+
Overall grade: D+

Ignore the "T-Magic is back" claims which are sure to come after what will no doubt be a joke of an opener.  The remainder also to not appear to present much of a challenge, which is probably good for the Huskers as they head into the first year in a new conference and some tough Big 10 matchups. 

12. South Carolina

Sept. 3: vs. East Carolina (Charlotte), C-
Sept. 17: vs. Navy, C
Nov. 19: vs. The Citadel, F-
Nov. 26: vs. Clemson, B
Overall grade: C

Ah, perpetual underachiever the ol'ball coach.  With a 17thyear senior at QB and an absolute man-child at RB, maybe he can finally get over the hump this year.  From the look of things, the non-con won't provide the usual misstep that's for sure.

13. Virginia Tech

Sept. 3: vs. Appalachian State, F-
Sept. 10: at East Carolina, C-
Sept. 17: vs. Arkansas State, F
Sept. 24: at Marshall, D+
Overall grade: D-

Apparently Frank Beameris from the aforementioned Bill Snyder school of scheduling. 

14. Arkansas

Sept. 3: vs. Missouri State, F-
Sept. 10: vs. New Mexico, F
Sept. 17: vs. Troy, D+
Oct. 1: vs. Texas A&M (Arlington), A
Overall grade: D+

Good ol' fashionedSEC non-con schedule if I've ever seen one.  One gem to shine almost bright enough to distract you from the crap that Razorback is taking in your front lawn.

15. TCU

Sept. 2: at Baylor, B-
Sept. 17: vs. Louisiana-Monroe, F
Sept. 24: vs. Portland State, F-
Oct. 28:vs. BYU (Arlington, TX), B+
Overall grade: C+

This could be a serious 'welcome back to planet Earth' type season for TCUand this non-con is doing them no favors, well aside from the two automatic W's of course.  Baylor on the road won't be easy as they'll surely be looking for a signature win for their program and OU fansare all too familiar with the dangers of a BYU game in Jerry World.

16. Ohio State

Sept. 3: vs. Akron, F
Sept. 10: vs. Toledo, D
Sept. 17: at Miami (Fla.), C+
Sept. 24: vs. Colorado, C+
Overall grade: C

Two tOSUschedule staples to open things and then an epic battle of NCAA violators.  This might have drawn a higher grade before the DaU scandal, but it's hard to envision the Canes doing anything substantial this year.  The CU game would be much more interesting if it wasn't in Columbus.

17. Michigan State

Sept. 2: vs. Youngstown State, F-
Sept. 10: vs. Florida Atlantic, F
Sept. 17:at Notre Dame, B+
Sept. 24: vs. Central Michigan, D-
Overall grade: D+

Really bad.  Shamefully bad.  I know people are really high on ND this year, but if they're the saving grace preventing you from having the equivalent of a high school schedule then you got problems.  Random tangent, who wins the trophy for "Coach who gets the most love even though they've never really won anything" between Brian Kelly or Kirk Ferentz?  Just call it a tie?  Deal.

18. Notre Dame

Overall grade: C

Speak of the devil.  On a matter or principle, I'm skipping the Irish.  Because of their stupid "independence" technically every game on their schedule is a non-con game and I'm not wasting my or your time grading every game they'll play this year.  You do not warrant that much of my time ND.  Deal with it Domers.

19. Auburn

Sept. 3: vs. Utah State, D-
Sept. 17: at Clemson, B
Sept. 24: vs. Florida Atlantic, F
Nov. 19:vs. Samford, F-
Overall grade: D-

Looks about right for the year after ($)Cam Newton.  They sure wouldn't care whenif the NCAA comes in and does a little scrubbing of their record books, if they took these beauties with them when they go.  Enjoy that crystal football while you can fellas.

20. Mississippi State

Sept. 1: at Memphis, D-
Sept. 24: vs. Louisiana Tech, F
Oct. 8:at UAB, D
Nov. 5: vs. Tennessee-Martin, F-
Overall grade: F+

Aaaaaaand, here's your winner folks!  Just sit back and gander at that crap fest of a non-con schedule.  Bill Snyder would be so proud!  

21. Missouri

Sept. 3: vs. Miami (Ohio), D-
Sept. 9: at Arizona State, A-
Sept. 17: vs. Western Illinois, F-
Overall grade: C

Pinkel and Mizzou have gone somewhatunder the radar for their propensity to put together a pretty pathetic non-con every year.  Usually trying to play off the annual showdown (can you even call it that?) withIllinois as a tough game.  This year, at least for one game, they went against the normal grain and put a tough Friday night road game on the slate.  Hat tip to Gary and his collar-less black shirt, withtweed blazer (minus the elbow pads of course), and trademark visor.  Well played sir.

22. Georgia

Sept. 3: vs. Boise State, A+
Sept. 17: vs. Coastal Carolina, F-
Nov. 5: vs. New Mexico State, F
Nov. 26: at Georgia Tech, B
Overall grade: C+

We're all rooting for you for 9/3 boys!  Lose and you're dead to us.  Win, and well, yeah you're still pretty much dead to us.  

23. Florida

Sept. 3: vs. Florida Atlantic, F
Sept. 10:vs. UAB, D-
Nov. 19: vs. Furman, F-
Nov. 26: vs. Florida State, A-
Overall grade: D

Save for FSU, which is a staple so hard to give them credit when it should go to the Nolesfor becoming relevant again, this is about as bad as it can get.  So granted it's not multiple player offseason arrests, or a star LB gouging out another player's eyes, but Urban Meyer can still be proud!

24. Texas

Sept. 3: at Rice, D
Sept. 10:vs. BYU, B+
Sept. 17: at UCLA, C+
Overall grade: C

Trying to determine what's a bigger joke, the fact that they're getting credit by some for tough (-er than normal for UT anyway) non-con while failing to acknowledge that the only reason it appears so "difficult" is because they sucked so bad last year or the fact that they're #24?  Tough call.

25. Penn State

Sept. 3: vs. Indiana State, F-
Sept. 10: vs. Alabama, A
Sept. 17: vs. Temple, D+
Sept. 24: vs. Eastern Michigan, D-
Overall grade: D+

Business as usual in Happy Valley.  Hold on a sec.  We're getting some news in over the wire.  Recently heard coming from Joe Pa's nursing homeoffice "Wait?!?  Who the hell put Bear Bryant and Bamaon the schedule?  Where am I?" 

Aaaaaand we're back.  I'll be here all week folks and don't forget to tip your waitress.
 

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