Of the 128 FBS head coaches who led their team into the 2016 season, 83 (65 percent) had a career winning record coming off a bye. It makes a statistical case for the widely-held belief that teams benefit from a week off.
What’s often overlooked is the timing of the break. Ideally, the open date is scheduled for after the halfway point of the season, but not too late to prove ineffectual.
The following programs will play the upcoming season handicapped with a way-too-early or way-too-late bye. In one case, it’s so extreme that the team will technically play the entire regular season without a break.
It’s yet another under-the-radar caveat of scheduling.
Bye: Week 2
Air Force opens up the 2017 season by hosting FCS opponent VMI. After taking the next Saturday off, it plays 11 consecutive regular-season games. It ties them with four other FBS schools for the second-longest stretch of non-stop action this year.
The Falcons also had an early bye last season, though it wasn’t as extreme, taking Week 3 off on their way to a 10-3 mark. They haven’t been forced to play 11-plus straight games since 2010, when it was 12 consecutive contests, followed by a Week 13 bye. That team went 9-4.
This season, Air Force has the earliest week off in the Mountain West. The latest belongs to San Diego State and Utah State, both with Week 11 byes.
Bye: Week 12
One of three Pac-12 schools with extremely late breaks this season, Colorado faces the opposite situation as does Air Force – playing 11 consecutive games and then getting a break. All that remains for the Buffs after their Nov. 18 bye is the season finale at Utah.
The last time Colorado had an open date this late was in 2015, when it was saddled with a Week 14 bye. That meant it played the entire season without a break. That team finished 4-9 overall and 1-8 in Pac-12 play.
Bye: Week 2
Like Air Force, Texas Tech will play its season opener (hosting FCS foe Eastern Washington), take Week 2 off and then play 11 consecutive opponents without a break.
While it’s clearly the least advantageous bye in the Big 12, the Red Raiders’ high octane offense, which requires precise timing, may actually benefit by not switching off. For the defense, which lacks depth, the opposite will likely be true.
Tech played 11 straight games without a break as recently as 2015, when it wasn’t off until Nov. 21 (Week 12).
Bye: Week 13
The Trojans have the worst bye in college football in 2017, drawing a Nov. 25, or Week 13, open date. It means that they’re the only team in the FBS that will play 12 consecutive regular season games without a break. It’s a significant disadvantage for a team with legitimate CFB Playoff potential.
The only school that faced a similar scenario last season was Marshall, which took Week 1 off before playing 12 straight. The Herd finished 3-9.
USC hasn’t had such an unfavorable bye since 2006, when it opened with a win at Arkansas, took Week 2 off and then played 11 in a row. That team finished 11-2, ranked No. 4 in the final AP.
Bye: Week 12
Like Colorado, Washington State is set to play 11 consecutive regular season games before taking Nov. 18 off. For the Cougars, all that remains after the late break is the Apple Cup at Washington.
WSU hasn’t played 11 straight since 2010, when it had back-to-back byes in Weeks 12 and 13 before hosting Washington on December 4. Those Cougars went 2-10 overall and 1-8 in what was then the Pac-10.
It is an unfavorable bye for USC. But they did this to themselves – BYU signed agreements with USC and Stanford, offsetting the impact Notre Dame has on final week Pac 12 scheduling. But USC got a 2 for 1 from BYU for 2019, 2021 and 2023. BYU surely would have played to close 2017 as well.
MSU originally had a Week 1 bye until they got BGSU to agree to move it so now their bye is Week 3 – not ideal, but an improvement.
Air Force finished 10-3, not 8-6 last season. Do your research.
I made a correction to the article. Thanks for reading!
From the looks of the article it looks like plenty of research was done. God forbid someone make a mistake. The internet should be for looking at d*cks, not being one.
Sorry for being do blunt. I do come to this website daily and appreciate what you guys do.
USC, Colorado, Washington State – 3 potential 10-win teams, all of them disadvantaged by sloppy scheduling on the part of the Pac-12 office. Way to go, Larry Scott. Way to earn those over-inflated salaries collected by you and your senior staff.
The USC situation was not the fault of the Pac-12. Due to Stanford playing Notre Dame the final week of the season, there could only be five conference games. Either USC or another Pac-12 team was going to have to schedule a non-conference game the last week of the season, or else someone was going to be stuck with a bye. Given that USC is the other side of the scheduling exception the Pac-12 has granted for season-ending home games vs. Notre Dame, it seems fair that they are the school to get stuck.
The Pac-12 Schedule is severely impacted by Stanford vs. Rice playing in Australia in Week 0 (Weekend before Labor Day). This is the second year in a row that the Pac-12 is opening down under (California and Hawaii played the game in 2016), and all indications are this will become an annual game.
Watch out Pac-12! This sort of thing going to happen more and more, with the unequal scheduling (the California schools guaranteed crossover games) and Larry Scott’s insistence in having Thursday and Friday night games. Since they had a down year, most people didn’t notice but in 2013 USC played 3 weeknight games (probably a record for a powerhouse program).
Note to Pac-12 Back Office: Give preferential treatment to your powerhouse schools or run the risk of missing the playoff. Take a play out of the SEC playbook (Bama/LSU and UGA/Florida getting byes before their games).
Wouldn’t be surprised if the Pac-12 Champion is one of those three teams and they lose a trap game from fatigue in the middle of the season that costs them a spot in the playoff.
As a Marshall fan, last season we had a week 1 bye. Not only was it brutal as a fan because everyone else started their season but we were still on the sidelines, but it truly hurt the team. Early opponents were more prepared, especially since Marshall opened up on week 2 against Morgan State. 12 straight games is never good, and injuries certainly took a toll. Here’s to 2017 being a better year for the Thundering Herd