Who doesn’t love a mid-season schedule ranking? They’re easily one of our favorite things to do here. Right behind targeting and Lane Kiffin, they might be the best thing to happen to college football, ever.
Only one team that was featured in our pre-season version of the toughest schedules is currently ranked in the top ten in the BCS Standings: the Missouri Tigers. Hopefully we don’t jinx any more teams. Insert “we are not responsible” disclaimer here.
Among the criteria used for the rankings: Remaining games against ranked opponents, locations of games and of course the good old eye test of the remaining opponents.
1. Baylor Bears
Record of remaining opponents: 27-12
Baylor tops this list for a few reasons. The biggest, in my opinion, is that all three of their ranked opponents — Oklahoma, Texas Tech and at Oklahoma State — are back-to-back-to-back. Baylor has scored seventy points in all but two games this year — they scored 69 against Wofford — and the Bears defense is one of five in the country to hold opposing teams to under one hundred total points. This schedule will put that to the test.
2. Texas Tech Red Raiders
Record of remaining opponents: 23-8
Another spot, another Big 12 team. You’ll see a trend here, as all the top teams in that league still have each other on the schedule. With Texas on the rebound and having to travel to Norman to take on the Sooners, this schedule got a boost with the Longhorns “resurgence”, if you will. Baylor looms large, but Texas Tech should worry about getting through back-to-back games against the Sooner State, starting with Oklahoma this weekend.
3. Oregon Ducks
Record of remaining opponents: 25-8
The first non-Big 12 team makes its appearance! Oregon has a showdown with UCLA then travels to Palo Alto to play a team that has had their number. Utah and Arizona haven’t exactly been slouches this year — Utah DID beat Stanford — and then closing the year with the Civil War against an Oregon State team that is hitting on all cylinders should be fun. All that adds up to the number 3 spot.
4. Oklahoma State Cowboys
Record of remaining opponents: 26-12
Back to the Big 12, as the Cowboys take the number four spot. A showdown with undefeated Texas Tech separates traveling to Iowa State and Kansas. The last three games of the year will show how good this team is, as they travel to Austin followed by contests against Baylor and Oklahoma to close out the year.
5. Oklahoma Sooners
Record of remaining opponents: 21-10
This is the last team from the Big 12, I promise. Oklahoma’s schedule is top-heavy the rest of the way. They play two of their remaining three ranked opponents back-to-back which includes a Thursday night showdown with Baylor. Iowa State is their last home game as they close out the year against Kansas State and then Oklahoma State for Bedlam in Stillwater.
6. Florida Gators
Record of remaining opponents: 23-10
The SEC beating up on each other has caused this schedule to fall a little more than originally thought. A banged up Georgia team in the World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party — yes, I still call it that — is never an easy task. Then Vanderbilt — who always plays the Gators tough — and South Carolina build the hype before finishing the season against what might be the best team in the country: FSU. The Gators are still fighting for a bowl bid, and none of these games — aside from Georgia Southern — will be a ‘gimme.
7. UCLA Bruins
Record of remaining opponents: 27-13
UCLA’s schedule shows up for one reason, mainly. Not one on the schedule can you chalk up as a “W” with no doubt in your mind. They have the big showdown in Autzen with Oregon, of course. Then you look at the rest of the schedule and games at Arizona, against Washington and Arizona State are not going to be easy with the parity in the Pac-12 this year. With the resurgence of USC post Lane Kiffin, the end of the year clash in the City of Angels should be a tough draw as well.
8. Stanford Cardinal
Record of remaining opponents: 23-12
Stanford’s schedule is like that of Oklahoma’s, meaning that their toughest games are not at the end of their schedule but the next two weeks. A showdown with a surprise Oregon State team that can put themselves in the thick of the BCS with a win and then hosting the Ducks is really going to show us who Stanford is this year. California squeezed in between USC and Notre Dame is a breath of fresh air, as the Golden Bears are having a down year. Traveling to the Coliseum though won’t be a picnic.
9. LSU Tigers
Record of remaining opponents: 18-11
LSU grabs the next to last spot in our rankings, and an FCS team prevents them from going a little higher. Furman gave the Florida Gators a challenge in 2011, but that’s won’t happen here. The big part of this schedule is traveling to Tuscaloosa on Nov. 9 for a chance to ruin Alabama’s run and then hosting Texas A&M after a bye week. On a short week, LSU then hosts Arkansas on Nov. 29 to play for the Golden Boot.
10. Michigan Wolverines
Record of remaining opponents: 26-8
Michigan has a bye week, followed by a showdown with Michigan State then the Wolverines host Nebraska. Michigan State is 6-1, and flaunts one of the best defenses in the nation. After the Spartans, Michigan travels to Evanston to play a disappointing Northwestern team. The big one though is against Ohio State. Regardless of the Big Ten’s reputation, two tough rivalry games — one being against an undefeated team — and a Taylor Martinez led offense doesn’t make for an easy road.
Clayton Tinkle is a contributor to FBSchedules.com.