Which conferences will play the most/least in 2018?

By Amy Daughters -

Whether it’s because of geography, history, potential viewership or a competitive advantage, each conference has a “go-to” league it tends to partner with most often.

To illustrate, the 14 teams of the Big Ten will play a total of 42 non-conference games in 2018. Of these, 12 – or 29% – are scheduled against members of the MAC.

On the flip side, there are leagues who very rarely clash during the regular season. This year there are seven conference combos between the 10 FBS leagues that will happen just once. Beyond that, there are two matchups that won’t happen at all.

Most Played Overall:  Big Ten vs. MAC (12) and SEC vs. C-USA (12)

The only Big Ten teams not playing a MAC team in 2018 are Ohio State and Wisconsin. As for the MAC, only Ohio and Toledo don’t have a Big Ten school booked. Akron (Nebraska and Northwestern) and Kent State (Illinois and Penn State) both have two such games slated apiece.

In the SEC, only Alabama, Florida, Missouri, and Ole Miss won’t play a member of C-USA. LSU (Louisiana Tech and Rice) and Tennessee (UTEP and Charlotte) play two members each. That leaves FIU, FAU, Old Dominion, UTSA, and Western Kentucky as the only C-USA members without a date with an SEC school. Louisiana Tech (LSU and Mississippi State) has two SEC opponents and Middle Tennessee (Vanderbilt, Georgia, and Kentucky) has the unenviable task of facing three SEC institutions.

Not Played at All: ACC vs. MWC and Pac-12 vs. Sun Belt

The ACC squared off with the Mountain West as recently as Sept. 22, 2017 when Virginia visited Boise State on the back end of a home-and-home series and won 42-23. The Pac-12/Sun Belt combo was also featured last season, New Mexico State falling at Arizona State on Aug. 31 and Texas State losing at Colorado on Sept. 9.

Most Played Among Power Conferences: ACC vs. SEC (7)

In addition to the annual rivalry games between Clemson/South Carolina, Florida State/Florida, Georgia Tech/Georgia and Louisville/Kentucky the ACC and SEC will clash three times in the regular season: Louisville vs. Alabama (in Orlando, Fla., Sept. 1), Miami Fla. vs. LSU (in Arlington, Texas, Sept. 2), and Clemson at Texas A&M (Sept. 8).

Most Played Among Group of Five Conferences: C-USA vs. Sun Belt (6)

Louisiana Tech at South Alabama (Sept. 1), Appalachian State at Charlotte (Sept. 8), ULM at Southern Miss (Sept. 8), UAB at Coastal Carolina (Sept. 8), Southern Miss at Appalachian State (Sept. 15), and Texas State at UTSA (Sept. 22).

Most/Least Played by Conference:


Most: American Athletic (8)

Boston College vs. Temple (Sept. 29), Georgia Tech at USF (Sept. 8), North Carolina at East Carolina (Sept. 8), North Carolina vs. UCF (Sept. 15), Pitt at UCF (Sept. 29), Syracuse vs. UConn (Sept. 22), Virginia Tech vs. Eastern Carolina (Sept. 15), and Wake Forest at Tulane (Aug. 30).

Least:  Pac-12 (1)

North Carolina at California (Sept. 1)


Most: MAC (12)

Illinois vs. Kent State (Sept. 1), Indiana vs. Ball State (Sept. 15), Iowa vs. Northern Illinois (Sept. 1), Maryland at Bowling Green (Sept. 8), Michigan vs. Western Michigan (Sept. 8), Michigan State vs. Central Michigan (Sept. 29), Minnesota vs. Miami Ohio (Sept. 15), Nebraska vs. Akron (Sept. 1), Northwestern vs. Akron (Sept. 15), Penn State vs. Kent State (Sept. 15) Purdue vs. Eastern Michigan (Sept. 8), and Rutgers vs. Buffalo (Sept. 22).

Least: SEC (1)

Purdue vs. Missouri (Sept. 15)

BIG 12

Most: Big Ten (4)

Iowa State at Iowa (Sept. 8), Kansas vs. Rutgers (Sept. 15), TCU vs. Ohio State (Sept. 15 in Arlington, Texas), and Texas at Maryland (Sept. 1 in Landover, Md.).

Least: MWC and Sun Belt (1 each)

Oklahoma State vs. Boise State (Sept. 15) and Oklahoma State vs. South Alabama (Sept. 8).


Most: MWC (9)

Arizona State at San Diego State (Sept. 15), Colorado vs. Colorado State (Sept. 1 in Denver, Col.), Oregon vs. San Jose State (Sept. 15), Oregon State at Nevada (Sept. 15), Stanford vs. San Diego State (Aug. 31), UCLA vs. Fresno State (Sept. 15), USC vs. UNLV (Sept. 1), Washington State at Wyoming (Sept. 1), and Washington State vs. San Jose State (Sept. 8).

Least: ACC, SEC and C-USA (1 each)

California vs. North Carolina (Sept. 1), Washington vs. Auburn (Sept. 1 in Atlanta, Ga.), and Arizona State vs. UTSA (Sept. 1).


Most: C-USA (12)

Arkansas vs. North Texas (Sept. 15), Auburn vs. Southern Miss (Sept. 29), Georgia vs. Middle Tennessee (Sept. 15), Kentucky vs. Middle Tennessee (Nov. 17), LSU vs. Louisiana Tech (Sept. 22), LSU vs. Rice (Nov. 17), Mississippi State vs. Louisiana Tech (Nov. 3), South Carolina vs. Marshall (Sept. 15), Tennessee vs. UTEP (Sept. 15), Tennessee vs. Charlotte (Nov. 3), Texas A&M vs. UAB (Nov. 17), and Vanderbilt vs. Middle Tennessee (Sept. 1).

Least: Big Ten and Pac-12 (1 each)

Missouri at Purdue (Sept. 15) and Auburn vs. Washington (Sept. 1 in Atlanta, Ga.).


Most: ACC (8)

East Carolina vs. North Carolina (Sept. 8), East Carolina at Virginia Tech (Sept. 15), Temple at Boston College (Sept. 29), Tulane vs. Wake Forest (Aug. 30), UCF at North Carolina (Sept. 15), UCF vs. Pitt (Sept. 29), UConn at Syracuse (Sept. 22), and USF vs. Georgia Tech (Sept. 8).

Least: Pac-12 and SEC (1 each)

Houston vs. Arizona and Tulsa at Arkansas (Oct. 20)


Most: SEC (12)

Charlotte at Tennessee (Nov. 3), Louisiana Tech at LSU (Sept. 22), Louisiana Tech at Mississippi State (Nov. 3), Marshall at South Carolina (Sept. 15), Middle Tennessee at Vanderbilt (Sept. 1), Middle Tennessee at Georgia (Sept. 15), Middle Tennessee at Kentucky (Nov. 17), North Texas at Arkansas (Sept. 15), Rice at LSU (Nov. 17), Southern Miss at Auburn (Sept. 29), UAB at Texas A&M (Nov. 17), and UTEP at Tennessee (Sept. 15).

Least: Pac-12 (1)

UTSA at Arizona State (Sept. 1)


Most: Big Ten (12)

Akron at Nebraska (Sept. 1), Akron at Northwestern (Sept. 15), Ball State at Indiana (Sept. 15), Bowling Green vs. Maryland (Sept. 8), Buffalo at Rutgers (Sept. 22), Central Michigan at Michigan State (Sept. 29), Eastern Michigan at Purdue (Sept. 8), Kent State at Illinois (Sept. 1), Kent State at Penn State (Sept. 15), Miami Ohio at Minnesota (Sept. 15), Northern Illinois at Iowa (Sept. 1), and Western Michigan at Michigan (Sept. 8).

Least: Sun Belt (1)

Western Michigan at Georgia State (Sept. 22)


Most: Pac-12 (9)

Colorado State vs. Colorado (Sept. 1 in Denver, Col.), Fresno State at UCLA (Sept. 15), Nevada vs. Oregon State (Sept. 15), San Diego State at Stanford (Aug. 31), San Diego State vs. Arizona State (Sept. 15), San Jose State at Washington State (Sept. 8), San Jose State at Oregon (Sept. 15), UNLV at USC (Sept. 1), and Wyoming vs. Washington State (Sept. 1).

Least: Big 12 (1)

Boise State at Oklahoma State (Sept. 15)


Most: SEC (6)

Arkansas State at Alabama (Sept. 8), Coastal Carolina at South Carolina (Sept. 1), Louisiana at Mississippi State (Sept. 15), Louisiana at Alabama (Sept. 29), ULM at Texas A&M (Sept. 15) and ULM at Ole Miss (Oct. 6).

Least: Big 12 and MAC (1 each)

South Alabama at Oklahoma State (Sept. 8) and Georgia State vs. Western Michigan (Sept. 22).

Comments (9)

Really wish they would’ve gotten the B1G-PAC 12 series off the ground even with the added conference games/expansion.

I’m all for the P5 schools, it just when schools are given credit for playing FCS opponents and their strength of schedule doesn’t effect it at all.

I agree with Shep. Good for Big 10 teams to have exposure in the West for recruiting. Good for Pac-12 teams to be seen by folks not in the West who don’t want to stay up until 2 a.m. watching night games. Good for Big 10 fanes who moved West to perhaps see their team every other year. Good to have conferences with similar academic profiles playing each other.

I love the late season ACC – SEC battles and I wish other schools and conference would embrace that as well. Iowa vs Iowa St, Nebraska vs Oklahoma Texas vs Texas A&M Penn State vs Pitt could all be great match ups.

ACC: Virginia Tech vs. Eastern Carolina (Sept. 15). American Athletic: East Carolina at Virginia Tech (Sept. 15). Hope the Hokies are rested for 2 games in 1 day.

I agree Shep. It’s weird in that it seems the Oklahoma schools are playing the Pac-12 schools on their own not with the rest of the conference lately. Oklahoma is starting a home and home this year with UCLA, Oklahoma State starts a home and home with Oregon State next year and I think they are starting a series with Arizona a few years down the road. Texas is finishing up a home and home with USC this year, and i believe Texas Tech finish up a home & home with Az state last year. It seems like they all need to be on the same page to start up a Big 12/Pac 12 series like you see in college basketball with the ACC-Big 10 challenge.

Tom Oklahoma-Nebraska is starting a series up again in a few years. It will be a home & home in 2021-2022 plus 2029-2030. OU is also having a series with Michigan in 2025-26. As for Texas vs Texas A&M we almost got it last year with the Texas Bowl but they decided to go another way. I still cant believe they cant get a series started with those two.

With the added bonus of playing OOC at the end allows the conference title game opponents to be more likely settled.