Tough schedules are hard to come by in college football. That said, here is a ranking of the non-conference schedules for the 2022 season, by intensity, of the 64 teams in the Power Five Conferences:
Western Carolina, Ole Miss, Central Florida, Georgia. Huge schedule. When the team of Gus Malzahn or Lane Kiffin are your third toughest opponents, you have quite the schedule.
Georgia to Atlanta, Eastern Washington, Brigham Young. For all intents and purposes, two Power Five – BYU opponents will be in the Big 12 next season. And Georgia is the defending national champion.
3. State of Florida
Duquesne, Louisiana State to New Orleans, Louisiana-Lafayette, Florida. LSU and Florida. Few teams in history have faced this duo without a conference.
Texas Christian, Air Force, Minnesota. Excellent use of time. Three competitive matches. It goes beyond the call of duty. This is CU’s first trip to the Air Force since 1974, and it’s a 1974-style program.
Colgate, Notre Dame, Brigham Young. Even Colgate is interesting. East meets West in the Battle of the Brain.
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Cincinnati, State of Missouri, to Brigham Young, Liberty. Good for the Razorbacks, who helped launch a weak schedule but released a roster that includes future Big 12 members Cincy and BYU, as well as Liberty, who has been a powerful mid-major in recent years.
7. Southern California
Rice, Fresno State, Notre Dame. Lincoln Riley’s first Trojan horse program includes the state of Fresno, which has no respite.
Louisiana Tech, Furman, Notre Dame, South Carolina. Notre Dame-Clemson is becoming a real rivalry.
Utah, South Florida, East Washington, Florida State. The Utes and Seminoles are a 1-2 caliber that few Power Five teams try to match.
In Connecticut, Purdue, Wagner, Notre Dame. Purdue isn’t a traditional powerhouse, but the Boilermakers aren’t bad at all.
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Oregon at Atlanta, Samford, Kent State, Georgia Tech. Give the Bulldogs credit. They could pass with only their annual streak of yellow jackets in the state, but no.
Central Florida, South Florida, James Madison, Kentucky. A few tough games on the road, and no I-AA opponents, since JMU moved to the Sun Belt Conference.
13. West Virginia
In Pittsburgh, Towson, at Virginia Tech.Of them non-conference road games against opponents from the Power Five, both traditional rivals in series that have been mostly interrupted.
14. Ohio State
Notre Dame, State of Arkansas, Toledo. Notre Dame at Ohio State is the best non-conference game of the season.
Louisiana-Monroe, Alabama, Texas-San Antonio. UTSA was a medium force last year, just 80 miles down the road from Austin.
In Florida, in southern Utah, in the state of San Diego. Utes plays at home and at home with Florida and San Diego State.
West Virginia, Tennessee, to Western Michigan, Rhode Island. Not a good schedule but not bad. Two sleepy Appalachian majors in West Virginia and Tennessee.
18. North Carolina
Florida A&M, at Appalachian State, at Georgia State, Notre Dame. Very strange schedule. Of them road games at mid-majors.
19. Boston College
Rutgers, Maine, Connecticut, at Notre Dame. The Scarlet Knights keep it local ahead of the Fighting Irish. Two teams from New England, plus another team from the Eastern Metropolis at Rutgers.
Sam Houston State, Appalachian State, Miami, Massachusetts. Appalachian State is a solid mid-major and gives the Aggies an edge over most of their SEC peers.
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21. Penn State
Ohio, to Auburn, central Michigan. The Nittany Lions playing in the Deep South is quite a culture shock.
North Dakota, Georgia Southern, Oklahoma. The Sooners’ first trip to Lincoln since 2009.
In the state of San Diego, the state of Mississippi, the state of North Dakota. Give the Wildcats extra credit for North Dakota State programming. I-AA power is quite dangerous.
24. Texas Technology
Murray State, Houston, to North Carolina State. Good timing, Red Raiders. A future Big 12 foe in Houston, plus a road game in Raleigh, where the Wolfpack could be an Atlantic Coast Conference contender.
25. Washington State
Idaho, Wisconsin, State of Colorado. The state of Colorado can be sneakily dangerous.
Cal-Davis, Nevada-Las Vegas, at Notre Dame. Cal at Notre Dame is an interesting match; they met four times from 1959 to 1967, but not before or since.
27. State of Michigan
Western Michigan, Akron, Washington.UW should be a good game.
28. South Carolina
State of Georgia, Charlotte, State of South Carolina, in Clemson. Not much here other than Clemson, but it’s Clemson.
Mercer, San Jose State, Penn State, Western Kentucky. At least the renowned enemy of the Tigers is interesting.
Bethune-Cookman, southern Mississippi, to Texas A&M, Middle Tennessee. The game at College Station is fascinating, but the rest of this program is yuck.
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Florida State at New Orleans, Southern U., New Mexico, Alabama-Birmingham. UAB is a decent mid-major, giving LSU a little boost.
Tennessee Tech, Houston, Duke. Shame on the Big 12, when the Jayhawks have a better schedule than more than half the members of the conference.
At Old Dominion, Wofford, West Virginia, at Liberty. The North Carolina model. Two games on the road at mid-majors.
34. Oregon State
State of Boise, State of Fresno, State of Montana. No star opponents, I don’t suppose, but two tough Mountain West teams make for a solid schedule.
Idaho, Western Kentucky, to Cincinnati. UC counts as more than a game mark.
State of South Dakota, State of Iowa, Nevada. The ISU-Iowa game is usually competitive, but the Hawkeyes have been dominating lately.
Albany, in Brigham Young, Texas State. In a typical year, the Baylor-BYU game wouldn’t spark as much intrigue. But the Cougars enter the conference next year.
Texas-El Paso, Kent State, Nebraska. The Huskers are at least one historical rival, and the Sooners have no planned Division I-AA opponent. Give OU credit for this.
39. State of Iowa
Southeast Missouri State to Iowa, Ohio.Typical cyclone schedule. Pretty much the same as OUs, except Cyclones play an I-AA enemy in SEMO.
Wyoming, Virginia, Chattanooga. Virginia-Illinois is a combination of similar color schemes.
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State of Utah, Texas, Louisiana-Monroe, Austin Peay. The intrigue around the Longhorns — not their gridiron performance — makes Bama-Texas appealing.
42. Texan Christian
In Colorado, State of Tarleton, in Southern Methodist. Colorado is a Power Five team but not really one. SMU was wiped out by Sonny Dykes’ move to TCU, but that makes the Iron Skillet game somewhat interesting.
43. State of Arizona
Northern Arizona, into the state of Oklahoma, into eastern Michigan. Going to Stillwater is a difficult task, but not really a challenge otherwise.
Kent State, Portland State, Michigan State. Kent State plays UW, OU and Georgia all in September. This is America’s toughest non-conference schedule.
45. Kansas State
South Dakota, Missouri, Tulane. The revival of the Big Eight’s old rivalry with Mizzou is interesting to say the least.
46. Oklahoma State
Central Michigan, Arizona State, Arkansas-Pine Bluff. It would rank higher if the Sun Devils weren’t in such disarray.
Louisiana Tech, Kansas State, Abilene Christian, New Mexico State.
State of Illinois, State of Washington, State of New Mexico. Can the Cougars be competitive at Camp Randall?
Ball State, Pittsburgh, Akron, Tennessee-Martin.Tennessee-Pitt is the Johnny Majors Bowl. That’s about all you can say here.
In Hawaii, Elon, Wake Forest, northern Illinois. Luckily Wake is enjoying a revival, otherwise Vandy’s program could rank last.
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Temple, Northwestern, North Carolina A&T, Kansas. Give credit to the Blue Devils. They play to hit. A fellow brainiac Power Five (Northwestern) and another blueblood basketball player (KU).
Miami-Ohio, Youngstown State, Northern Illinois, Louisville. I wonder how bad the football rivalry between UK and City? I’m not sure.
53. Wake Forest
Virginia Military Institute, at Vanderbilt, Liberty, Army. No one should blame deacons for their planning.
Richmond, Illinois, Old Dominion, Coastal Carolina. Richmond and Old Dominion. Is it a football program or a historic state tour?
55. North Carolina State
At East Carolina, Charleston Southern, Texas Tech, Connecticut. Not a very tough schedule for a team that’s supposed to be pretty good.
At Boston College, Wagner, at the Temple. The Scarlet Knights face teams from Boston, New York and Philly. That’s no way to have a good schedule.
Indiana State, Syracuse, Florida Atlantic. It is no longer the Syracuse of a quarter of a century ago.
Buffalo, in Charlotte, Southern Methodist. When SMU is your key opponent, it’s a bad program.
59. Mississippi State
Memphis, to Arizona, Bowling Green, East Tennessee State.Egads. With ‘Zona down, it’s a zero.
State of Colorado, Hawaii, Connecticut. Hey, Wolverines. You are Michigan.What are you doing playing a program like this?
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61. Ole Miss
Troy, central Arkansas, at Georgia Tech, Tulsa. The rebels should do better.
State of New Mexico, western Illinois, Colorado. These types of schedules create the anonymity of Gophers.
Duke, Southern Illinois, Miami-Ohio. Ugh.
Bowling Green, State of Alabama, South Alabama. The Bruins were once known for their quality schedules. Not anymore.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or [email protected] It can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40 p.m. to 5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.