Of the 131 FBS teams set to participate in 2022, only seven – or five percent of the field – won’t play at least one Power 5 opponent in non-league action.
By conference, the dishonor roll includes three Big Ten members, two Pac-12 clubs, and two programs from Conference USA. That means that the ACC, Big 12, SEC, American, Mountain West, MAC, and Sun Belt all have 100% of its membership scheduled to square off with a Power program outside of conference play.
It’s a significant competitive advantage for all the teams highlighted, as they’ll each have a much easier path to at least one additional win.
It’s a swing that could make a difference in bowl eligibility, divisional and conference titles, and the College Football Playoff bracket.
As a note, for the pandemic-compromised 2020 season, teams are given credit for the non-conference Power 5 opponents that they originally scheduled as opposed to whom they actually played.
2022 non-conference opponents: FCS Bryant, at Texas State, at New Mexico State, UConn
FIU failed to schedule a Power 5 foe outside of C-USA action as recently as 2020 when it was originally slated to face FCS Jacksonville State, UCF, Liberty and UMass before the pandemic compromised its plans. The Panthers have only scored two wins over current Power 5 members – a 24-17 victory over Louisville in 2011 and a 30-24 upset vs. Miami Fla. in 2019.
Compare FIU’s non-conference slate to that of fellow East division member Charlotte which doubles up on Power 5 foes with South Carolina and Maryland. While the 49ers balance the slate with Georgia State and FCS William & Mary, they are significantly more likely to pick up two additional losses than are the Panthers.
FIU has two Power 5 members currently booked in the future: Arkansas in 2023 and Indiana in 2024.
2022 non-conference opponents: FCS Idaho, Western Kentucky, at Cincinnati
Although Cincinnati is as good, and in many cases better, than a wide swath of “other” Power 5 programs, the Bearcats aren’t technically a Power 5 foe. And so, Indiana makes the list. The Hoosiers are repeat offenders, also failing to play a Power club outside of Big Ten action last season, in 2020 and 2019. That makes Sept. 8, 2018 – a visit from Virginia – the last time Indiana faced a Power 5 opponent during the regular season outside of Big Ten play.
Compare the Hoosiers’ slate with that of fellow East member Penn State, who has a roadie at Auburn to go along with home dates vs. Ohio and Central Michigan.
Moving forward, Indiana has Louisville scheduled from 2023-25, Virginia in 2027-28 and Notre Dame in 2030-31. It doesn’t have a Power 5 foe booked in 2026.
2022 non-conference opponents: Buffalo, at Charlotte, SMU
This is the first season that Maryland has failed to schedule a Power 5 opponent outside of league play since 2016 when it opened with consecutive wins over FCS Howard, FIU, and UCF. Compare the Terps’ strength of schedule with that of Rutgers which has roadies at Boston College and Temple and a home date vs. FCS Wagner.
Maryland has Virginia booked in 2023-24 and Virginia Tech from 2026-29. It doesn’t have a Power 5 foe currently slated for 2025.
2022 non-conference opponents: Colorado State, Hawaii, UConn
This is the first time in 78 years that Michigan hasn’t scheduled an opponent that is currently a Power 5 member (or Notre Dame) outside of Big Ten action. The year was 1944 and the Wolverines faced a trio of independents – Iowa Pre-Flight, Marquette and Pennsylvania (not State) – all resulting in wins that were a part of an 8-2 campaign and a No. 8 rank in the final AP poll.
Compare Michigan’s non-conference slate to that of Ohio State which hosts Notre Dame, Arkansas State and Toledo.
While the Wolverine’s don’t currently have a Power club booked for next season, they do have future home-and-homes scheduled with Texas (2024/27), Oklahoma (2025/26) and Notre Dame (2033/34).
2022 non-conference opponents: SMU, FCS Texas Southern, at UNLV, at Memphis
In a fact that might surprise you, this is the first time since 1960 that North Texas hasn’t booked a current Power 5 member outside of conference play. In ’60 – which was 62-years ago, the Mean Green added dates with UTEP, Memphis, West Texas A&M (then State), Drake, Houston and Hardin-Simmons to go along with its mini-Missouri Valley Conference schedule.
Compare UNT’s 2022 non-league slate with that of fellow C-USA West member Louisiana Tech which has a double whammy of roadies at Clemson and at Mizzou along with a visit to South Alabama and a home date vs. FCS Stephen F. Austin.
North Texas has Cal scheduled next season, Texas Tech in 2024 and 2027, Wisconsin in 2025 as well as home-and-homes with Baylor (2028/29), Missouri (2030/31) and Colorado (2032/33).
2022 non-conference opponents: Boise State, at Fresno State, FCS Montana State
This is the first time since 2014 that Oregon State has failed to schedule a Power 5 opponent outside of Pac-12 play. That team went 5-7 in Mike Riley’s final season in Corvallis with three of the five wins coming vs. FCS Portland State, Hawaii, and San Diego State.
Compare the Beavers’ non-Pac 12 slate with that of Oregon, which opens in Atlanta vs. Georgia and then welcomes FCS Eastern Washington and BYU.
Oregon State won’t play a Power club in non-conference action in 2023 but has Purdue booked in 2024, Texas Tech in 2025/26 and Ole Miss in 2027/30.
2022 non-conference opponents: Bowling Green, FCS Alabama State, South Alabama
UCLA opted-out of scheduling a Power 5 foe in non-league play as recently as 2020, when it had New Mexico State, Hawaii, and San Diego State on the books before the pandemic hit. Prior to that, it was all the way back in 1992 when the Bruins didn’t play a current Power 5 member instead facing Cal State Fullerton, BYU, and San Diego State.
Compare ULCA’s light schedule with cross-town rival USC which adds home dates with Rice and Fresno State to its annual fixture with Notre Dame.
The Bruins’ next Power 5 opponent outside of Pac-12 action is a roadie at LSU slated for 2024. Moving forward, they have home-and-homes scheduled with Georgia (2025/26), Auburn (2027/28) and Wisconsin (2029/30).
Historical data courtesy of Sports Reference/College Football.