Big Ten to count Fresno State as a Power Five opponent

By Kevin Kelley -

Last year, the Big Ten Conference announced a football strength of schedule commitment. At that time, the conference stipulated that its members must play at least one non-conference game against an opponent from a Power Five conference or BYU or Notre Dame.

In addition, the Big Ten agreed to discontinue the scheduling of FCS teams with the exception of those that had already been contracted.

A couple of months after the announcement, the Big Ten added a few exceptions. Its members can also fulfill the strength of schedule commitment by scheduling Army, Air Force, Cincinnati, Navy, and UConn.

Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner said at that time that more Group of Five teams could be included and would be looked at on a case-by-case basis.

“If someone comes to us with a request, we’ll evaluate it,” Rudner told the Indianapolis Star.

According to a report by the Star Tribune on Thursday, a second team from the Mountain West Conference, Fresno State, now counts as an exception.

News of Fresno State’s addition to the list arose after Minnesota announced the completion of their 2019 football schedule by adding Georgia Southern to a non-conference slate that already included South Dakota State and Fresno State.

Minnesota head coach Tracy Claeys confirmed to the Star Tribune that they were given an exception to count the Bulldogs.

“Otherwise we wouldn’t have done that,” Claeys said. “[The Big Ten] has to approve it.”

Minnesota scheduled Fresno State for a home-and-home series about one month prior to the Big Ten announcing their strength of schedule commitment.

Fresno State is 34-38 over the past six seasons, including 1-6 this season. The Bulldogs’ last winning season was in 2013 when they went 11-2 and won the Mountain West championship.

Here’s an updated look at who each conference can schedule, per reports:

ACC (2017+)

Any team from the Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC, plus BYU and Notre Dame.

Big 12 (2017+)

Any team from the ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12, and SEC, plus Notre Dame.

Big Ten (2016+)

Any team from the ACC, Big 12, Pac-12, and SEC, plus Air Force, Army, BYU, Cincinnati, Fresno State, Navy, Notre Dame, and UConn. No FCS opponents.

SEC (2016+)

Any team from the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac-12, plus Army, BYU and Notre Dame.

Comments (40)

Why don’t the conferences just make a list of schools that they cannot play!!! It’s getting ridiculous.

Okay, so if I’m another Big Ten team I’m pissed. Minnesota had Fresno State and South Dakota State scheduled with one opening. Go get a real Power 5 team. But no, let’s grab Georgia Southern because the Big Ten isn’t really going to enforce this rule.

Georgia Southern should count as P5 status since they beat Florida. South Dakota State almost upset TCU this year. If they go this route? Why don’t these P5 conferences create semi-power conferences that they say are counted as P5 schools? That way, we don’t have these types of arguments in the future. I think Big 10 should only count the top MVFC as P5 since they all do very good against P5 schools.

Fresno St is provided a waiver but Boise St is not on the list? Why does the B1G even play this charade? Just include all AAC and MWC programs and be done with it. For the B1G and the SEC to equate Army as a P5 is a joke. Might as well include UMass on the waiver list while they’re at it

Certainly these P5 conference programs scheduling weak are only trying to get into a mid/low tier bowl game, nothing more. However, the playoff and bowl committee’s should amend their rules to oppose any program with a weak OOC schedule from playing in one of the New Years Six Bowls.

I would throw in North Dakota State, South Dakota State, Eastern Washington, Northern Iowa, McNeese State, Central Arkansas, Western Michigan, Central Michigan, Toledo, Bowling Green, Northern Illinois, UTEP, UTSA (have played close games with P5 schools), Houston, Memphis, Western Kentucky, Marshall, La. Tech, Southern Miss., Georgia Southern, Appalachian State, Jacksonville State, South Alabama, East Carolina, Old Dominion, UMASS. (almost beat South Carolina today), Youngstown State, James Madison, Richmond, Towson, etc. Etc. I would count Portland State in once and a while like last year when they beat Oregon State, and wiped out North Texas with a large margin of victory.

Minnesota could have setup a home-and-home with Arkansas or some other P5 program. I don;t see USF on the waiver list. However Wisconsin and Illinois is playing USF without any P5 programs on their respective schedules (2017-19).

But I suppose if Iowa gets to consider Iowa St as a P5 program every season then all the AAC and MWC programs should be considered similarly.

Alabama is also playing Mercer next season, and there is a pretty big difference between comparing Minnesota’s schedule and a top Big Ten team like Michigan’s schedule to Alabama

Bama is also not building up Mercer into being something they are not, like a P5 team. You can compare Bama & MIchigan schedule all you like, Bama also has FSU, Colorado St & No State & in no way shape or form is Bama calling the Colorado St or No State games a P5 competition level grade.

If you are putting Alabama and Minnesota on the same level, let’s not hear how tough the SEC is.

Well, Technically. I could say Bama’s last OOC away game was in Dallas where they won 52-6 over USC. So are we considering the Trojans as a cupcake team too? Hell, W.Kentucky put up more of a fight.

Basically the BIG is picking & choosing who the P5 teams are that play against the BIG, when the SEC added Army they got bashed for it. This makes no sense, so the BIG is only picking UCONN, Cincinnati, No State, Air Force & Navy because they have games against them. I don’t have a problem with adding the service academies or independents but how do you add only certain teams from smaller conferences to P5? That would be like SEC adding W.Kentucky as a P5. Btw, SEC added Army as a P5 & have no games scheduled against at all. There are some FCS teams that are stronger then UCONN, Army & Cincinnati.

While I agree it shouldn’t be willy nilly, and some of their teams are questionable as snot, there are some exceptions I’m okay with. With due respect for the service academies and to honor the players choosing to go there, I feel there should be something to encourage schools to schedule them. These young men aren’t going to be able to go pro (not in football at least) when playing for a school. That alone is a sacrifice for those players, so I feel it’s great conferences are making exemptions for them, regardless of conference affiliation.

Notre Dame is the obvious one, but BYU, considering they’ve won a national championship, have been fairly consistent throughout their history, and their exclusion from a conference has as much to do with their “no sunday” sports standards as anything should warrant them as a place amongst schools considered as “tough” competition.

Some of these others……..What the snot? How is it Boise isn’t on any of these lists yet UConn is? This is where I’d like to see a little more transparency to why conferences are choosing which schools. As Boise is the only non-power 5 that has a winning record against power 5 the last ten years (maybe BYU?? but we already covered them) where is the justification to some of these? Old rivalries? Close Proximity? Pressure from state legislature to play more in-state games? Maybe something like that, but why shouldn’t those things be covered with THE OTHER TWO TO THREE NON CONFERENCE GAMES!!

Or here’s a novel idea, how about just have a requirement that at the time you fill up that years schedule, the total W/L margin of all OOC teams is at .400 or above with no more then one FCS school and no back to back years against any FCS programs. This way you loosen up the scheduling, don’t have to make exemptions, and someone isn’t caught sandbagging against the bottom of the other P5 schools anyhow. You can schedule Vandy and UConn in a single year, sure, but if Houston or Boise isn’t on the schedule, you aren’t getting to .400.

I know…..too simple yet too complex at the same time for the likes of educational elitist snobs.

There are about 20 FCS teams with a higher sagarin rating than Fresno St… And to answer the question, NDSU has a 5-0 record against power 5 opponents since 2010.
6-0 vs FBS since 2010. 9-3 vs. FBS since about 2003.

My point in bringing this up is the quality of the opponent needs to be considered vs. the label they play under. Same for Boise.

This article is misleading. The “excepted list” is not a permanent exception for all time, it is a list of teams who were counted as an exception because they were already scheduled by teams before this rule came about.

Fresno State counts for 2019 for Minnesota, not for anyone in the conference for the rest of all time. The way you’ve written it, it looks like you don’t understand the meaning of “case-by-case” at all.

I completely understand case-by-case. So if Wisconsin comes along and wants to schedule Fresno State and count them as a P5, is the B1G going to say no? That would cause some bad blood between the teams and the conference.

And yes, Fresno State was already scheduled (by one month). But Minnesota just added Georgia Southern this week. They could have added a real P5 team for a home-and-home and played the return game any time. Why didn’t they do that?

The BIG might as well add West Michigan was a P5 team too since they beat Northwestern & Illinois.

BIG is still playing FCS games & how many BIG teams have been beat by FCS teams this year? SEC, none! One less conference game has nothing to do with, there are many FCS teams out there that can beat FBS bottom feeders or even a top feeder like Iowa. Not bashing the BIG, just a correction.

True, seeing that Vandy just upset Georgia & the week before Kentucky beat Vandy, it is not easy.

Jim Delany is a power hungry idiot to wants to slash and burn the entire college football landscape. Screw the big 10.

No Cupcakes in the SEC…..

Miss State – South Alabama – L
UMass – 12 Point W

Ole Miss – Bitch Slapped Vs. 2 Loss Florida State

Arkie- W 21-20 over Skip Holtz led La. Tech

Mizzou – 26-11 L to WVU
– L Middle Tennessee State

South Carolina – 6 point W over 1-6 UMass
– 13 point loss to Miss State

Vandy – 31 Point Loss to G. Tech
– 1 point win over Western Kentucky
– 3 point Loss to South Carolina

Kentucky – Loss – Southern Miss

Florida – W – Southern Miss. 24-7
– W – Vandy – 13-6

Look, if the SEC was easy, it would be called your mom.

It’s still the best conference in the nation. No losses to the FCS. Arkansas, Ole Miss, and Florida would dominate any other conference. Mississippi State, Vandy, and Missouri would be near the top.

LOL! You should become a comedian. It would be a good fit. I appreciate the constant humor though!

Based on whom they’ve lost to…

Mississippi State would be at the bottom of the Sun Belt & the Pac 12. as they lost to South Alabama and South Alabama is winless in and at the bottom of the Sun Belt. Toss in the loss to BYU, which has also lost to Utah and UCLA, which basically means Miss. State would be no where even close to the top of any other conference.

Mizzou would be near the middle of CUSA with its loss to Middle Tennessee State, along with the likes of Old Dominion and Charlotte.

Vandy would be at the bottom of the ACC with its 31 point loss to G.Tech, but with its win over Middle Tennessee State near the top of CUSA.

Based on whom they have defeated, Arkie with a three point win over TCU would be smack dab in the middle of the Big 12 and with their 1 point win over La. Tech would be at the top of the CUSA West, possibly ready to play Vandy for the CUSA title in December.

You can debate which conference is tougher, fine, but just blindly saying that the SEC has no cupcakes is a pretty uneducated and misinformed statement as I have just pointed out above.

Mississippi State will have five people drafted by the NFL.

Missouri probably four.

Those two SEC teams will combine for more NFL draft picks than everyone in the Big 12 except Oklahoma and Texas.

That’s why the SEC is tougher.

You can play in the Big Ten and go weeks without seeing an NFL level player. Not so in the SEC.

I’ll let you in on a little secret, one team loses every game. They have to. That doesn’t mean that team isn’t good or doesn’t have good players. But, I guess when you cant comprehend the most basic concepts of the game, the more complex concepts escape you.

Sorry you can’t grasp the complexities on how to construct an argument. If you did you wouldn’t throw out generalisations that fit into your narrative that the SEC is always better, like you could go “weeks in the Big 10 without playing a team that has one NFL draft pick” but never include a statistic like I have done.

To sum up your argument then,

“If an SEC team loses OOC they are still the better team because the SEC is the best conference. However, when an SEC team beats a team from another conference it is NOT as you say, “one team loses every game. They have to. That doesn’t mean that team isn’t good or doesn’t have good players”.

It is rather, “that team lost because their conference sucks and the SEC is always going to have the better team even if they lost the game.”

Got it. As far as draft picks go.

Ohio State had 12 players drafted, 10 in the first 3 rounds.


Clemson had 9.
Alabama had 7.
Oklahoma had 4.
Michigan State had 5.
Florida had 7.
Florida State had 2.
Michigan had 3.

Michigan stomped the snot out of Florida.
Florida State stomped the snot out of Florida.
Ohio State lost to Michigan State.
Alabama beat Clemson.

In those instances the team with the most NFL talent didn’t win. So, who was the better team in those situations last year? Based on your argument that “even if a team loses it doesn’t mean they aren’t good or doesn’t have good players”?

Just curious.

So, let’s use your ‘logic.’

Ohio State, the best team in the Big Ten, just lost to a Penn State team that barely beat Temple and Minnesota and lost to a middle-teir Pitt team.

Does that mean that Ohio State is really not good? Is that what you are saying? Because anyone that knows anything about football knows just how silly that argument really is. But that’s the argument you are making.

Because Mississippi State lost to a South Alabama, then they are a cupcake.

Well, two Big Ten teams lost to FCS teams this year. What does that make the Big Ten?

By the way, the SEC hasn’t lost to an FCS team this season. They are the only Power 5 conference without a loss to an FCS team.

Ohio State is still the best team in a one-team Big Ten.

As for draft picks, last year’s numbers prove it. They had 12 of the leagues picks last year. Past Ohio State, only two other schools in the Big Ten had four or more players drafted (Michigan 5, Nebraska 4).

In the SEC, Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, LSU, and Mississippi all had at least five players drafted. Only three teams had less than three players taken. Six Big Ten teams had less than three players taken.

So, again, the SEC wins again. And it’s not even close.

Whether on the field or in the stat books, the SEC is clearly the best conference. The race now is only for second place.

Alabama may be (and likely is) the best team in the country. Besides them, the next best SEC team would be the 4th best team in the ACC (behind Clemson, Louisville, FSU), the 5th best team in the B10 (behind Michigan, OSU, Wisconsin, Nebraska), the 3rd best team in the PAC 12 (behind Washington and Utah, I know you will argue Utah but you have also never seen them play), and probably the best or 2nd best team in the B12. Congratulations for not losing to an FCS team (yet), but I don’t think that criteria is going to win you many debates. Non-bias conference ratings show the B10 as the #1 conference, ACC as #2 and SEC as #3. These non-bias ratings are further supported by the B10’s 8-5 P5 record, the ACC’s 8-6 P5 record and the SEC’s 5-6 P5 record, which seems to be a better benchmark for how you rate a conference. Both of us can beat up on how bad Rutgers, Purdue or Illinois are, how bad Virginia, BC and Syracuse are, but that doesn’t define a conference. And if your going there, take a look at skill level of the entire SEC East. Could even the best SEC East team get themselves bowl eligible if they played in the B10 East? Depending on how many FCS teams they played in the non-conference, probably not.

Good reply, Jeff. But don’t bother with these SEC fanboys who cannot subjectively discuss anything. Everything devolves to Mom jokes and unanswered questions by fellow posters and the mantra that Vandy, Miss. State and Arkie will dominate any other conference when their on-field records do not support that overused assertion.

FRESNO STATE is not the same anytime anywhere team they were. Give them a few years with their new coach. How about division 1 regardless of conference plays division 1 and FCS plays FCS.