Of the top 21 teams with the best shot of winning the College Football Playoff title – according to the oddsmakers in Vegas – 11 (or 52%) will play one of their non-conference games at the opposing team’s home field. The other ten will play their entire non-league schedule at home.
This caveat may have an impact on who is – and isn’t – unscathed when the CFP committee sits down to field the 2020-21 bracket.
These games all have the potential to become subtle difference makers in the narrative of this season.
As a note, each of the teams listed will play a true road game. Neutrally sited games are not included.
CLEMSON +225 (1)
at Notre Dame – Saturday, Nov. 7
Clemson’s last away game in non-ACC play other than South Carolina (which it plays annually) was a visit to College Station to play Texas A&M in Week 2 of the 2018 season, a narrow 28-26 win. Its most recent loss to a non-conference opponent on the road came in 2014 when it opened at (12) Georgia and fell 45-21.
Dabo Swinney is 73-7 (91%) at home during his tenure at Clemson vs. 40-17 (70%) in road action. It amounts to the Tigers being 21% more likely to lose at Notre Dame than if they would have played them at home.
OHIO STATE +350 (2)
at Oregon – Saturday, Sept. 12
Ohio State hasn’t played a non-conference roadie since 2016 when it rolled into Norman and took down (14) Oklahoma 45-24. Its last loss in such a game came in 2011 when it fell 24-6 at Miami Fla.
The Buckeyes are 67-5 (93%) over the last decade at home vs. 38-8 (83%) in true road games.
FLORIDA +1200 (6)
at Florida State – Saturday, Nov. 28
Though Florida’s most recent road trip to Florida State (in 2018) resulted in a 41-14 win, the Gators suffered back-to-back losses there in 2016 and 2014. Overall, Florida is 21-13-1 (61%) at home against the Seminoles vs. a 14-13-1 (51.8%) mark in Tallahassee.
OKLAHOMA +2500 (T7)
at Army – Saturday, Sept. 26
Oklahoma is one of three top contenders set to play its non-conference roadie at a non-Power school. The Sooners played a non-Big 12 opponent on the road as recently as last season, scoring a 48-14 win at UCLA in Week 3. They haven’t lost such a game since 2009 when they got edged 21-20 at (17) Miami Fla. The last time they visited a non-Power opponent was in 2014 when they scored a 52-7 win at Tulsa.
Impressively, in the last decade Oklahoma has enjoyed the same success on the road (posting a 41-7 or 85% mark) as it has at home in Norman (53-8 or 87%).
PENN STATE +2500 (T7)
at Virginia Tech – Saturday, Sept. 12
Penn State’s most recent non-league road game came in 2018 when it visited Pitt and blasted the Panthers 51-6. Its last loss to such an opponent came two years earlier, in 2016, when it fell 42-39 at, again, Pitt.
James Franklin is 35-7 (83%) at home in his seven seasons thus far as the head man in State College. Compare that to his 15-13 (53%) mark in away games. It amounts to a 30% advantage at home.
TEXAS +4000 (13)
at LSU – Saturday, Sept. 12
The Longhorns played a non-conference away game as recently as 2017, when they, as an unranked team, visited (4) USC and got edged 27-24. They haven’t won a true non-Big 12 roadie since 2012 when they visited Ole Miss and dominated the Rebels 66-31.
In the last decade, Texas is 37-24 (61%) at home in Austin vs. 24-22 (52%) on the road.
MICHIGAN +4500 (14)
at Washington – Saturday, Sept. 5
Michigan’s most recent non-conference away game came in the 2018 opener, a 24-17 loss at (12) Notre Dame. Its last such win came in 2013 when it traveled to UConn and won 24-21. The Wolverines haven’t won an away game against a non-conference opponent that’s now considered a Power club since a 2010 win at Notre Dame.
In his six seasons at Michigan, Jim Harbaugh is 30-5 (86%) in Ann Arbor vs. 15-9 (63%) in true road action.
MIAMI FLA. +8000 (T17)
at Michigan State – Saturday, Sept. 26
The Hurricanes last visited a non-ACC opponent in 2018 when they made the trek to Toledo, Ohio and beat the Rockets 49-24. Their most recent road trip to a Power program’s venue came in 2016 when they lost 30-27 at Notre Dame. They haven’t beaten a current Power club out of ACC play on the road since a 2010 win at Pitt (the Panthers were Big East members until 2012).
Miami is 47-18 (72%) at home over the last decade vs. 27-26 (51%) in road action.
TENNESSEE +8000 (T17)
at Oklahoma – Saturday, Sept. 12
Tennessee hasn’t played a non-conference roadie since 2014 when it visited (4) Oklahoma and fell 34-10. It hasn’t won such a game since it traveled to Memphis in 2010 and triumphed 50-14. Its most recent road win at a Power opponent came all the way back in 2003 when it won 10-6 at (6) Miami Fla.
The Volunteers are 45-28 (62%) at home since 2010 vs. 11-32 (26%) in road action. The 36% differential is the widest gap of the teams mentioned.
NORTH CAROLINA +10000 (T20)
at UCF – Friday, Sept. 4
North Carolina last played a non-ACC opponent on the road in 2018, suffering a 24-17 loss in the opener at Cal. Its last such win came a season earlier, in 2017, when it won big (53-23) at Old Dominion. The most recent road victory over a Power foe was in 2016, a 48-23 win at Illinois.
The Tar Heels are 40-24 (63%) in Chapel Hill over the last decade vs. a 23-28 mark (45%) in true road action.
UTAH +10000 (T20)
at Wyoming – Saturday, Sept. 19
Utah hit the road to play a non-conference opponent as recently as last season when it visited BYU in its opener and won 30-12. Its last win at a Power 5 member’s home was in 2014, a 26-10 victory over Michigan in the Big House.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham is 70-24 (74%) at home in 15 seasons in Salt Lake City vs. a 50-35 mark (59%) on the road.
Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference/College Football