This season marks the first time since 2014 that FBS teams will have two-bye weeks built into their schedules as opposed to the usual one. It’s an exception that also happened in 2013 and prior to that 2008.
The extra week off is a result of how Labor Day and Thanksgiving fall into the calendar – an early Labor Day combined with a late Turkey Day can equal an extra Saturday of college football, expanding the regular season from 13 weeks to 14. Given that teams are still playing a 12-game slate, an extra week on the calendar equals an additional bye week.
While it’s impossible to predict how the extra seven-days off will affect injuries and momentum, we do know when each program will be off and who they play immediately afterwards.
Following are the nine FBS teams that will face the greatest number of opponents coming off a bye week in 2019. If we accept the widely held assumption that teams fare better after a break, the programs listed here will play with a disadvantage vs. their counterparts.
To illustrate, where Georgia will play five programs who are coming off an extra seven days of rest, Missouri – also from the SEC East – will face only one such opponent.
Teams playing FOUR Opponents off a bye week
EAST CAROLINA – at Navy (Sept. 14), at UCF (Oct. 19), Cincinnati (Nov. 2), and at UConn (Nov. 23)
IOWA – at Iowa State (Sept. 14), Middle Tennessee (Sept. 28), at Wisconsin (Nov. 9), and Illinois (Nov. 23)
MIDDLE TENNESSEE – at Iowa (Sept. 28), at FAU (Oct. 12), Rice (Nov. 16), and Old Dominion (Nov. 23)
PENN STATE – at Maryland (Sept. 27), at Michigan State (Oct. 26), at Minnesota (Nov. 9), and Indiana (Nov. 16)
TEMPLE – Georgia Tech (Sept. 28), at SMU (Oct. 19), at USF (Nov. 7), and Tulane (Nov. 16)
TENNESSEE – Georgia (Oct. 5), Mississippi State (Oct. 12), UAB (Nov. 2), and at Kentucky (Nov. 9)
Teams playing FIVE opponents off a bye week
GEORGIA – at Tennessee (Oct. 5), South Carolina (Oct. 12), Florida (Nov. 2 at Jacksonville, Fla.), Missouri (Nov. 9), and at Auburn (Nov. 16)
WISCONSIN – Michigan (Sept. 21), Kent State (Oct. 5), Iowa (Nov. 9), at Nebraska (Nov. 16), and Purdue (Nov. 23)
Teams playing SEVEN opponents off a bye week
NOTRE DAME – New Mexico (Sept. 14), Bowling Green (Oct. 5), USC (Oct. 12), Virginia Tech (Nov. 2), at Duke (Nov. 9), Navy (Nov. 16) and Boston College (Nov. 23)
Among these, Georgia’s schedule stands out as all five of its well-rested foes are fellow SEC members, each a heavy hitter. Compare that with Wisconsin, which has Kent State in the mix and even Notre Dame, which wins on volume but dilutes the difficulty level with New Mexico, Bowling Green and Navy.
On the flip side, 34 FBS programs will play just one opponent coming off a bye week this season. So, where Wisconsin will play five rested foes, fellow Big Ten West members Illinois, Nebraska and Northwestern will play just one. Here they are by conference.
Teams playing ONE opponent off a bye week
ACC: Louisville (at Wake Forest, Oct. 12), Wake Forest (NC State, Nov. 2)
American: UCF (East Carolina, Oct. 19)
Big Ten: Illinois (at Michigan State, Nov. 9), Michigan State (at Michigan, Nov. 16), Nebraska (at Maryland, Nov. 23), Northwestern (Ohio State, Oct. 18), Rutgers (at Indiana, Oct. 12)
Big 12: Kansas (at Oklahoma State, Nov. 16), TCU (at Kansas State, Oct. 19), Texas Tech (at Oklahoma, Oct. 5)
C-USA: Louisiana Tech (at Marshall, Nov. 15), UTEP (UTSA, Oct. 5), Western Kentucky (UAB, Sept. 28)
Independents: Liberty (at Virginia, Nov. 23)
MAC: Akron (Buffalo, Oct. 19), Ball State (Central Michigan, Nov. 16), Buffalo (Ohio, Oct. 5), Ohio (Miami OH, Nov. 6), Western Michigan (Miami OH, Oct. 12)
MWC: Colorado State (San Diego State, Oct. 5), New Mexico (at Notre Dame, Sept. 14)
Pac-12: Arizona State (Washington State, Oct. 12), Oregon (Arizona, Nov. 16), USC (at Arizona State, Nov. 9), Washington (at Colorado, Nov. 23)
SEC: Kentucky (Arkansas, Oct. 12), Mississippi State (Ole Miss, Nov. 28), Missouri (Tennessee, Nov. 23), Ole Miss (New Mexico State, Nov. 9), Vanderbilt (Northern Illinois, Sept. 28)
Sun Belt: Appalachian State (at Louisiana, Oct. 9), Georgia Southern (New Mexico State, Oct. 26), Georgia State (at Coastal Carolina, Oct. 12)
Finally, nine FBS programs won’t play a single foe that’s coming off a week of rest in 2019. In a case of true extremes, compare BYU’s schedule of the fewest-rested opponents possible (zero) with fellow independent Notre Dame’s, which will play the most-well rested foes possible (seven).
Teams playing ZERO opponents off a bye week
ACC: Georgia Tech
C-USA: Charlotte, Florida Atlantic, Old Dominion
Independents: BYU, New Mexico State
MAC: Bowling Green, Eastern Michigan