Of the 64 members of Power conferences coming in to 2018, only 13 (or 20%) are scheduled to double-up on non-conference Power opponents.
It’s a crucial, potential one-game disadvantage against the rest of the field.
The 13-team honor roll is listed by conference, a key designation because of the varying number of league games members are required to play. In the ACC, teams play eight conference games each season – for schools doubling-up, it means 10 Power opponents (assuming each member already meets the minimum requirement of one non-conference Power foe). In the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 – all of which legislate nine league games annually – it means 11 Power opponents for those mentioned here.
The SEC, like the ACC, has an eight-league game format. But, that’s irrelevant in this specific case as no SEC member has two non-conference Power opponents scheduled for 2018.
As a note, to maintain consistency we’ve counted BYU as a Power opponent across the board.
Clemson – at Texas A&M (Sept. 8) and vs. South Carolina (Nov. 24)
Clemson has added a non-conference game against a Power opponent to its annual meeting with South Carolina consecutively since 2010. That’s eight years of doubling up, putting the Tigers in the scheduling hall of fame. Also worth noting is the quality of that second opponent; Auburn in 2010-12 and 2016-17, Georgia in 2013-14 and Notre Dame in 2015.
Duke – at Northwestern (Sept. 8) and at Baylor (Sept. 15)
This is Duke’s third-straight season with two non-ACC Power opponents. Last year it hosted Northwestern and Baylor and in 2016 it traveled to Evanston to play the Wildcats and visited Notre Dame. Before that it was 2008, when both Northwestern and Vanderbilt were on the schedule.
Florida State – at Notre Dame (Nov. 10) and Florida (Nov. 24)
Florida State added a kick-off game against an SEC foe to its annual finale with Florida each of the last two seasons; meeting (1) Alabama last year and squaring off with (11) Ole Miss in 2016. In 2014, the Seminoles similarly started with Oklahoma State in Arlington, Texas.
Louisville – Alabama (Sept. 1, at Orlando, Fla.) and Kentucky (Nov. 24)
Louisville joins Clemson in 2018 in facing two SEC foes during the regular season. The Cardinals also double dipped last season, adding Purdue to its regular fixture with Kentucky. The last time they played two SEC members was in 2015, when they met Auburn in Atlanta to open the season and then visited Lexington for the finale with the Wildcats.
Pitt – Penn State (Sept. 8) and at Notre Dame (Oct. 13)
This is Pitt’s fourth-consecutive season to play two Power opponents outside of its ACC slate. In both 2016 and 2017, it was Penn State combined with Oklahoma State and in 2015 it was Iowa and Notre Dame. Prior to that, it was 2012, also the Panthers’ final season in the Big East, when they hosted Virginia Tech and visited Notre Dame.
Northwestern – Duke (Sept. 8 and Notre Dame (Nov. 3).
The Wildcats haven’t faced two teams from Power conferences outside of their Big Ten slate since 2015. That season, Northwestern defeated Stanford 16-6 at home and Duke 19-10 in Durham.
Ohio State – Oregon State (Sept. 1) and at TCU (Sept. 15, at Arlington, Texas)
Ohio State hasn’t played two Power opponents outside of Big Ten play since 2011, also the last time it posted a losing record. The Bucks had back-to-back games at Miami Fla. (a loss) and vs. Colorado (a win) that year. It’s worth noting that the Big Ten was still playing eight league games in 2011, meaning OSU had four non-conference games scheduled in the regular season. This year they have just three such slots, and two are filled with Power schools.
Purdue – Missouri (Sept. 15) and Boston College (Sept. 22)
This is the second-consecutive season that Purdue has doubled-down on non-Big Ten Power foes. The Boilermakers opened 2017 with a loss to Louisville and then won at Missouri two weeks later. It makes the fact that Purdue earned bowl eligibility last season for the first time since 2012 even more impressive.
Texas – Maryland (Sept. 1, at Landover, Md.) and USC (Sept. 15).
Texas is another school, like Clemson, that consistently schedules two Power foes out of conference. The Longhorns have doubled-up every season since 2012. The difference is, as members of the Big 12 the Longhorns already play nine league games, giving them an additional Power opponent compared to the Tigers who hail from the eight-game ACC.
West Virginia – Tennessee (Sept. 1, at Charlotte, NC) and at NC State (Sept. 15)
West Virginia doubled-up as recently as 2016, when it opened-up with Missouri and then met BYU two weeks later. Before that, it was 2014 when the Mountaineers kicked off against Alabama in Atlanta and visited Maryland two weeks later.
Cal – North Carolina (Sept. 1) and at BYU (Sept. 8)
Like the Big 12, the Pac-12 has only three non-conference games slotted each season. Impressively, Cal has managed to schedule two of the three against Power foes three of the past five years. In 2017, the Golden Bears opened at North Carolina and then welcomed Ole Miss two weeks later. In 2014, it was a road trip to Northwestern in the opener and a visit from BYU in the regular-season finale. That leaves 2013, when they added Ohio State to the front-end of the series with the Wildcats.
USC – at Texas (Sept. 15) and Notre Dame (Nov. 24)
USC has added a heavy hitter to its annual date with Notre Dame each of the last two seasons. It played Texas in Los Angeles last year and opened 2016 with Alabama in Arlington, Texas. Though the Trojans didn’t double up in 2015, they played at least two current Power members out of Pac-12 action consistently from 2000-14. In many of those years they faced three such opponents.
Washington – Auburn (Sept. 1, at Atlanta, Ga.) and BYU (Sept. 29)
Washington hasn’t played two Power opponents outside of Pac-12 play since 2010, when they beat Syracuse in Week 2 and then fell to Nebraska the following Saturday. The Huskies also opened at BYU that season, but the Cougars were still Mountain West members then – their final campaign before declaring independence. Washington managed to avoid playing any Power foes out of conference as recently as 2015, when it faced Boise State, FCS Sacramento State and Utah State.
Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference-College Football.