This past weekend was one of the most lopsided I have ever seen in college football, and it will hopefully be the last of its kind.
There were three shutouts in the Top 25: Ohio State, Louisville and Washington scored an average of 68 points apiece to demolish their much lesser opponents, Florida A&M, Florida International (the only FBS school of the three) and Idaho State. What the hell is Ohio State doing playing Florida A&M? As much as I enjoy watching U of A hand a beatdown to NAU every other year, it’s completely unnecessary to schedule these games. The only feasible solution I can find is if NCAA football added a preseason.
I heard Rich Rodriguez talk about it earlier this year, it’s the only sport, professional or college, that does not have a preseason. With the addition of the College Football Playoff at the end of next season, contending teams will not want to put these nobody schools on their docket for fear of it diminishing their “strength of schedule” rating, unless those games don’t count. Out of these three top-10 college teams from power conferences, who do you think deserves a playoff spot more? (FCS schools marked with asterisk) Team A’s out of conference schedule includes San Jose State, Army and Notre Dame. Team B has Georgia, *South Carolina State, *The Citadel and South Carolina, and Team C has Virginia Tech, Colorado State, Georgia State and *Chattanooga.
Team A has the most respectable schedule of the bunch. They don’t play any FCS teams and even took their show on the road to face Army in West Point, NY. That’s a ways from home for the Stanford Cardinal, who play in one of the deepest conferences in college football. If they’re on the bubble of a playoff spot, I’m picking them over the other two because they’ve had a tougher road getting there, and though they host their more difficult competition in the conference, they stayed inside the confines of the FBS, avoiding a forgettable blowout like the ones we saw this weekend.
Team B is an embarrassment. One of the nation’s top-rated teams is playing TWO FCS schools. I see the two SEC teams on there but those do not make up for the two gifts the Clemson Tigers will get, inflating their win total and making them look much more appealing then they really are. They may be at the top of the class in the ACC, but subtract two wins from their record to bring them back to earth. If they’re on the playoff bubble they won’t be getting in because of their two cupcake FCS blowouts.
Team C only plays four road games this season, two of which are against fellow SEC teams who had zero conference wins last year, and only one of those games is against a team with a winning conference record in 2012. Sounds pathetic, right? If you answered “no,” then you’re way too high on the SEC. It may be the best conference in college football, but that doesn’t mean the teams can play a lame schedule and look like a champion, or does it? Team C is Alabama. Your back-to-back National Champions play an easier out-of-conference schedule than my Arizona Wildcats. When your biggest challenge is Virginia Tech, all you have to do is show up and you’ll run the table. Georgia State plays in the Sun Belt, which might as well be an FCS conference because they’ll never send anyone to a BCS bowl or into the new playoff next year. Alabama has the world’s easiest schedule, they host all their remaining difficult opponents and should win their road games by a combined score of 200-28. How a team who plays four road games can be included into the College Football Playoff is beyond me. If schedules like this pop up again next season there will be a lot to explain from the Alabama athletic department, especially when voters deny them entry to one of the coveted four playoff spots.
The easiest way to end this absolute nonsense is to add one presesaon game. Let teams get their depth charts figured out and not worry about it counting against their record. Allow teams that open up with a early top-25 matchup (like Clemson playing Georgia) step onto the field with an FCS team in an exhibition game. There is no other major sport in America that goes without a preseason. Can you imagine the backlash Major League Baseball would receive if it cut back on Spring Training? The NFL wanted to remove a preseason game but not get rid of it entirely, because teams need this time to figure out who their starters will be in competition positions. Wouldn’t you rather decide your new starting QB based on a preseason matchup instead of having to open on the road against a top squad? The answer is always yes. Have that exhibition game and then take your show on the road, but until the NCAA understands that these in-season FCS matchups are complete garbage games, we’ll still see them on the schedule. Hopefully next year teams will be more concerned about who they’re playing in regards to their strength of schedule come playoff time. If a one-loss Alabama team is being compared to an undefeated Stanford for the last playoff spot, (which is entirely possible because the media is so overhyped on the SEC that they treat one-loss teams like they’re undefeated), I’m taking the Cardinal, they’re the ones who actually earned it.