Power Teams Not Playing a Non-Conference Game vs. another Power Team in 2014

By Amy Daughters -

The SEC’s new scheduling format, requiring members to play at least one “major non-conference game” starting in 2016, brings up an interesting question: Which programs from a power-five league (ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, Pac-12 and SEC) don’t have a non-conference game scheduled against another power-five team in 2014?

Here’s a look at the offenders, teams which should have an easier road to bowl eligibility than their counterparts.

North Carolina State

The Wolfpack are one of only two ACC teams that won’t square off with a power-five member in non-conference play this season.

NC State’s non-ACC schedule consists of the opener against Georgia Southern (moving up from the FCS to the Sun Belt conference in 2014), Old Dominion (joins Conference USA in 2014), USF and FCS Presbyterian.

This stretch makes it likely that the Wolfpack will improve on their 3-9 finish from last season after only four weeks this year.

NC State’s last regular-season, non-conference game against a power-five member came in its 2012 home opener to Tennessee, a 35-21 loss. Its last win in such a game came in 2003, when the Wolfpack drilled Texas Tech 49-21.

Wake Forest

Wake Forest is another team which ought to be off to a 4-0 start in 2014. The Demon Deacons open the season at ULM, host FCS Gardner-Webb, travel to Utah State and then welcome Army to Raleigh.

Wake last scheduled a regular-season, non-conference game against a power-five member in 2013, when it was nipped by Vanderbilt 23-21 to close out a 4-7 campaign. The last regular-season win over a power team came against Vanderbilt in 2010.


The 2014 Bears—the only Big 12 team not to have a power opponent in non-conference play—will have three full weeks to ramp up to the rest of their schedule. Baylor has SMU in its opener, hosts FCS Northwestern State in Week 2 and then hits the road to face Buffalo on Sept. 13.

Baylor hasn’t played a power team in a regular-season game since 2009, when it traveled to Wake Forest, picking up a 24-21 win.

Penn State

The only Big Ten team without a power game outside of conference play, Penn State opens up its season against UCF, winner of last year’s BCS Fiesta Bowl over Baylor.

After facing the Knights in Ireland, Penn State plays Akron in Week 2, UMass in Week 4 and then waits to close out its non-conference slate until Nov. 15 when it hosts Temple.

As a bonus, the Nittany Lions also have the benefit of facing three of their four non-Big Ten foes at home in Happy Valley and the other at a neutral site (Ireland).

Penn State hasn’t had a power team on its non-conference slate since Virginia in 2012 (a 17-16 loss) and hasn’t won such a game since pounding Oregon State 45-14 in 2008.

Oregon State

One of three Pac-12 teams on our list, Oregon State’s 2014 non-conference slate consists of FCS Portland State, Hawaii and San Diego State.

The Beavers haven’t played a power-five member in the regular season since 2012 when they upended No. 13 Wisconsin 10-7 in the opener.


Arizona started its 2013 season 3-0 and should begin its 2014 campaign in similar fashion.

The Wildcats open up at home against UNLV, travel to Texas to face UTSA and finish up back in Tucson with Nevada.

Arizona’s last regular-season game against a power program came in 2012 when it took down No. 18 Oklahoma State 59-38.


Colorado has struggled enough in recent years that it seems harsh to call its schedule soft, but that said the Buffs are still Pac-12 members.

In 2014, Colorado opens up against in-state rival Colorado State in Denver, travels to UMass in Week 2 and then finishes its non-conference slate by hosting Hawaii in Week 4.

The Buffs last scheduled a power non-conference opponent in 2011 when they lost at Ohio State 37-17. The last win came in 2010 when the then Big 12 Buffaloes nipped Georgia 29-27.


One of a whopping four SEC teams on our list, Vandy’s 2014 non-conference slate ought to guarantee the Commodores four wins this season.

Vandy opens up at home against Temple, hosts UMass in Week 2, hosts FCS Charleston Southern on Oct. 11 and then welcomes Old Dominion to town on Nov. 1.

Yes, Vanderbilt has a tough conference schedule, but its non-SEC opponents are among the most underwhelming in the big leagues.

The Commodores’ last non-conference, regular-season game—and win—came last season with a 23-21 victory over Wake Forest.

Mississippi State

In 2014 not only will Mississippi State not play a power team outside of the SEC, it will face four non-conference opponents who combined for a 14-36 record in 2013.

The Bulldogs open the season with home games against Southern Miss and UAB, travel to South Alabama in Week 3 and then finish up by hosting FCS UT Martin on Nov. 8.

Mississippi State last played a power team out of conference last season when they lost 21-3 to Oklahoma State in the opener. The last win came all the way back in 1999 when they beat Oklahoma State 29-11.

Ole Miss

Though the Rebels will meet Boise State in Atlanta to open the 2014 season, it still won’t face a power team outside of its SEC slate.

The balance of Ole Miss’ non-conference schedule is a Week 2 showdown with UL Lafayette, a Week 5 visit by Memphis and then a Nov. 15 game with FCS Presbyterian.

The Rebels last scheduled a non-league game against a power team in 2013, when they traveled to Austin to beat Texas 44-23.

Texas A&M

The Aggies haven’t faced a power foe in non-conference play since they joined the SEC in 2012.

In 2014, Texas A&M’s non-league slate consists of home games against FCS Lamar and Rice, a road trip to SMU and then a Nov. 1 game in College Station against ULM.

The Aggies’ last non-conference power opponent came in 2011, when they lost 42-38 to Arkansas. The last win came in 2004 when they beat Clemson 27-6.

Comments (53)

If PSU has not had a power conference team on its slate since 2012 and not won since 2008 does that make 2013 Syracuse a non-power conference team?

N.C. State leads this group and they don’t have a non-conference power team scheduled at all through 2019. Pathetic!!!!

Calling NC State a power team is a bit of a stretch. They’d be lucky to go 2-2 in nonconference games… even with that schedule.

Have you looked at Baylor’s OOC scheduling….Baylor just scheduled Incarnate World for 2019…Seriously Baylor needed to get that slot for 2019 filled… Duke in 2017-1018 is Baylor’s only OOC opponent from a P5 conference….

Penn State may technically be a home game but it is being played in Ireland, not Happy Valley

’07 & ’08 Miami home & home
’09, ’10, ’11 Arkansas neutral site
‘12,13 & ’14 weak schedule result of Arkansas changing from OOC to conference rival
’15 ASU neutral site
’16 & ’17 UCLA home & home
’18 & ’19 Oregon home & home

Outside of the 2012 to 2014 schedule A&M has regularly scheduled quality OOC games and regardless of who they played from ’12 to ’14 they’re strength of schedule still ranked 6th in ’12 and 26th in ’13 and have the 5th toughest schedule going into ’14 according to USA Today as reported on this site. Clearly overall strength of schedule has not been an issue at A&M

ULM beat Wake Forest @WF….WF might not want to overlook the Warhawks when the come to Monroe……….

Yeah, the 4-0 out-of-conference assumption for Wake Forest is overstated. They will get killed by Utah St. and struggle with ULM. 3-1 would be a good performance by Wake Forest. Expect the 2-2 outcome.

Who cares? A&M plays SC, LSU, Bama, Auburn, Mizzou, Ole Miss, etc. Tougher schedule than anyone in B1G, Pac 12, or Big 12.

we care.

while they do play a great conference schedule, that isn’t the point of this conversation. their conference has been very good for quite some time, no denial there. but that is the part of the schedule they don’t have control over. they do have control over their OOC games. they could very easily signed up for one average to above average OOC game and they didn’t make it happen.

fact of the matter is that even with the conference being tough, they tried to make it as easy on themselves as they could. only sissies do that in my opinion. great teams would want to beat great teams, not slide by against teams they overmatch EASILY.

and also Mike M, where are you getting at here? as a fan you seriously love the fact that they are playing 4 games that are easy wins and less competitive? what kind of fan wants to see less competitive games on the schedule and sticks up for it?

Travis, A&M had several prominent non-con’s scheduled prior to their move to the SEC which were ultimately dropped in order to enable the SEC to fit A&M and Mizzou into the conference schedule. When OOC games conflict with available slots in conference those games get dropped. Not to mention the ten year series against Arkansas which was an OOC game at the time it was agreed became an in-conference match-up. The weak OOC schedules for A&M the last several years have been unfortunate but also largely unavoidable as well, at least as far as 2012 and 2013 schedules were concerned. I would have loved to see a strong OOC in 2014 but for whatever reason it didn’t happen. However the school has largely fixed its OOC issues moving beyond 2014 with games against ASU in 2015, UCLA in ’16 & ’17, and Oregon in ’18 & ’19.

Your absolutely right that great teams should want to play great teams but sometimes want to isn’t enough to get schedules to mesh in a relatively short time frame. Especially when many OOC games are scheduled years in advance. So spare us the sissy talk and try and understand what’s at play when it comes to setting schedules at the collegiate or professional level

Hey, I understand it didn’t work out perfectly, and I knew you had a series with Arkansas.

If A&M had a chance to get a good team on the schedule and didn’t, we will never know. Maybe they did, maybe they really didn’t. Maybe it was unfortunate and just didn’t work out. Regardless of that, ANY team that does that intentionally is what I like to call a “sissy”

So I will back off my A&M comments for now as it looks like they are setting up better for the future. I honestly believe in my own heart that with only 8 conference games now for the future, SEC teams should schedule TWO opponents per year from the Power 5. They have the room, but nobody will make it mandatory. As a fan, all I want is to see more great competitive college football games.

Georgia Southern took down Florida last season so I don’t think NC State should necessarily pencil in a W for them just yet…

Another back handed column..I guess to invoke a response..Vanderbilt had a game with wfu until the sec intervened ole miss and Memphis is a classic rival…go Hoosier power…right

A&M AD messed up the scheduling when moving to the SEC. And then wanted to cancel the Oregon series but the Ducks refused to cancel. However the Aggies followed up by scheduling a home-and home with UCLA. Fits in with the new SEC scheduling rule.

With the new requirement that every SEC program must add a “power conference” program to their 4-game non-conference schedule, Ol’ Miss, Mizzo, Miss St, Kentucky and Vandy will be forced to marginally improve their non-conference scheduling. This will likely be done by scheduling one game every season from amongst NC State, Wake Forest, Duke, BC, Maryland, Kansas, Kansas St, Indiana, Illinois, Purdue, Louisville and Rutgers. And/or Notre Dame if they can get it.

(Forget about scheduling Baylor or Iowa St. And I don’t expect any of these programs going west to Utah, Colorado or Wash St). (Most of the programs above could be associated in their own “non-power” football conference).

But for the remaining three non-conference game, besides an occasional neutral site game, every SEC program will continually heavily padding their schedules with CUSA, Sub Belt and FCS programs.

Some things never change.

so if A&M call OKl for a neutral site came to kick off the season do you think they would take it. Hell no A&M would destroy any team in the Big 12 now that they don’t have to bow down to longhorn and sooner because now that they’re in the SEC they get to choose the best players in the region. If A&M was still in the Big 12 they would just be A&M SEC will make you famous

Ha. With so many NC St and WF fans bemoaning the weak non-conference scheduling that might just be a good marketing move, scheduling the WF-Army game the same day in same stadium right after the NC St-Presbyterian game.

Then do a similar double game in Winston-Salem.

ACC AD’s are you listening?

It’s not even close to being a misnomer. Gillette Stadium is UMass’s home field for many Minutemen home games. Are you compensating and perceiving the game bigger than it is because it is being played in a pro stadium? You do know that Massachusetts is so bad they are getting kicked out of the MAC and no other conference wants them.

And besides the Colorado State and Hawaii games, Mass is visiting Boulder in 2015. That’s some great non-conference scheduling by the Colorado AD…not. Bringing no value to the Pac-12 SOS.

But good luck at Michigan in 2016. Too bad the Buffalo could not get a return visit, or even a 2-for-1 deal out of the Wolverines. What’s up with that?

Michigan doesn’t want to schedule any OOC road games, only home and neutral – but even as a Spartan I can’t blame them with ability to sell out a stadium that large on a consistent basis.

But kudos to UMass for being one of the two programs to play their entire 2014 non-conference schedule against power conference programs, with games against BC, Colorado, Penn St, and Vanderbilt.

Hope the Minutemen bring an extra box of band aids… well, maybe at least for the Penn State game. And hope the UMass-Colorado game makes enough to pay the rental fee for Gillette. Will that be a TV game on the “MAC Network”?

Colorado is clearly in a rebuilding phase. There is a difference between struggling to compete and a team competing for national championships. Colorado has to play 7 bowl winning teams this coming year. They don’t yet have the players to compete against the level of competition they play in conference. What would you have them play Alabama, Florida State, and Ohio STate back to back before playing USC, UCLA, UW, Arizona and at Oregon Ducks in consecutive weeks?

It seems as if Colorado is perpetually in a rebuilding phase, so I’m not sure if that excuse holds up.

I think there is a lot of games there against some pretty good mid majors! Boise State can never be taken lightly, same with UCF.

Baylor takes the cake in non conference scheduling. Look @ Incarnate Word coming up in a few years. Baylor has more cupcakes scheduled than a Hostess delivery truck. Come on Baylor fans, defend your team. You will revert back to mediocrity in a few years as you always do after a few years.

Not playing a single power conference program the next two seasons, and then playing a one-off road game in Michigan does not help rebuild a program.

A more balanced approach to non-conference scheduling would be the way to go. For example, each season schedule:
1. power conference program (lower tier if unable to schedule upper-tier to a home-and-home);
2. Colo St rivalry game;
3. FCS opponent.

Good to see the Buffs have Nebraska for a home-and-home further down the road.

Keep in mind, an annual rivalry game with a MWC (non-power conference) program has some pros and cons in how the Buffaloes can go about maintaining a consistently balanced non-conference schedule.

Not quite, but Penn State did play and beat Syracuse in 2008 (the week after beating Oregon St), 2009 and 2013.

At least if my huskers aren’t in this column, I am fine… plus Wake Forest isn’t that good.. they could lose vs. Louisianan-Monroe, Utah St., and Army. I agree to what Ricky W is saying… But Texas A&M do have the SEC to take care of.. so I can see why they don’t schedule any Power teams.. but it would be nice to see them facing a non-conference power team.

The problem with the SEC’s 8+1 is that nine games against major conference opponents is the traditional baseline, the minimum acceptable schedule. It is not exactly a stretch goal.

You people do realize that beginning in 2016, there will be no more SEC teams on this list because of their new rule.

Great article, thanks Amy.

I don’t know if Wake Forest goes 4-0 against their non-conference schedule, at UL Monroe and at Utah State are not necessarily wins for a team as depleted and weak as Wake Forest (even Army may win their game).

And Ole Miss is hard to include here, not just Boise State, but “UL Lafayette” (Louisiana is their actual name) and Memphis too, might challenge Ole Miss.

And isn’t the real culprit here the Athletic Directors who make these easy non-conference schedules, aren’t they the greedy chickens?

SEC is overated and they do not want to show it. That is why they play cupcakes so they can keep the illusion of being a better conference alive. They are top heavy just like every other conference in America. Lets stop acting like the SEC is the end all be all of college football. Ask Alabama about that! OU hardly had its best team ever last year and they put a thumping on the best school in the SEC. There is your proof! They are hyped up beyond what they should be. Don’t get me wrong they have great teams in the SEC but they are no better than some of the other power conferences.

I can see why teams like Wake, NC State, and Vandy play teams like that, but 3 teams in SEC West is ridiculous. Those teams are way too hyped, just look at Alabama. Last year, they lost to Oklahoma in their second loss of the season and now this year, they lost to Ohio State, a team people said weren’t evn fit to play in the playoffs. Now, look at teams in nonpower5. East Carolina, for example, played South Carolina, Virginia Tech, and North Carolina. All 3 were ranked at some point. If SEC West can’t play out of conference like this AAC team can, they’ll be crushed in 2016, when the CFB world sees them loose at least 3 games a year. Alabama and LSU won’t win championships for years on end, and don’t even get me started on what will happen to Auburn and Arkansas if they play good ooc. The east even plays better ooc than the west. Georgia (as much as I dislike them) played the #3, #2, and eventually #4 team in the acc in a bowl. And people wonder why teams like FSU get far, they play GOOD ooc.