Next to AAC peers, USF’s strength of non-conference slate hard to top

For now, the Bulls' non-conference football schedule over the next five years appears the best in the AAC.
Georgia Tech running back KirVonte Benson (30) is tackled by USF linebacker Nico Sawtelle (54) during the first half of the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, September 8, 2018. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Georgia Tech running back KirVonte Benson (30) is tackled by USF linebacker Nico Sawtelle (54) during the first half of the game at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida on Saturday, September 8, 2018. (OCTAVIO JONES | Times)
Published December 15 2018

By now, you're likely aware of the two-for-one argument consuming Florida's section of cyberspace. If not, the details are simple.

USF has agreed to play two games at Florida in exchange for a home game against the Gators. UCF fans generally have scoffed at the very notion of such a deal with UF. Each school has its reasons for its respective stances, and in the end, right or wrong answers may not exist.

But the contrasting philosophies do affect the quality of the teams' future non-conference schedules, which prompted us to do some analyzing and assessing.

Thanks to a handy site called fbschedules.com, we were able to look at the non-league schedules of every American Athletic Conference program for the next five years. Some of the schedules still have holes, but enough slots have been filled to provide a fairly accurate look at who's being bold or benign in terms of opposition.

And the way it looks today, the Bulls have the most solid non-conference slate for the next five years.

RELATED: Strength of schedule? That comes with a whole lot of stress

At this point, four AAC schools — USF, Connecticut, Houston and Temple — have 10 games slated against Power Five opposition (or BYU) from 2019-23. Everyone else has nine or fewer. Of those four, USF's 10 future Power Five foes posted the best collective win percentage (.598) in 2018.

(Note: In compiling those P5 win percentages, a team's record was counted twice if it faces an AAC foe twice over the next five years. In USF's case, the Gators' 9-3 mark was counted as 18-6, because the Bulls and Gators play twice over the next five years. Note 2: Navy was excluded from this conversation because of its inflexible scheduling. While it faces Notre Dame every year, it's locked in to annual games against the other service academies.)

While we realize a team's success (or lack thereof) in 2018 is hardly a barometer of what kind of program it will be in future years, it's the best we can do for now. And using that formula, USF's upcoming non-conference slate is the conference's most rugged.

But judge for yourself. Here are the Power Five opponents for every AAC school over the next half-decade:

USF
vs. Wisconsin, at Georgia Tech, twice vs. Florida (home/away), at Texas, twice vs. BYU (home/away), at N.C. State, at Louisville

UCF
Stanford, at Pitt, twice vs. North Carolina (home/away), twice vs. Georgia Tech (home/away), twice vs. Louisville (home/away)

Connecticut
twice vs. Illinois (home/away), twice vs. Boston College (home/away), twice vs. Indiana (home/away), twice vs. N.C. State (home/away), at Clemson, vs. Purdue

Temple
four vs. Rutgers (two home/two away), twice vs. Miami (home/away), at Duke, vs. Maryland, vs. Boston College, vs. Georgia Tech

East Carolina
twice vs. N.C. State (home/away), four vs. Virgnia Tech (two home/two away), twice vs. South Carolina (home/away), at BYU

Cincinnati
vs. UCLA, at Ohio State, twice vs. Indiana (home/away), at Nebraska, at Pitt

Houston
at Oklahoma, two vs. Washington State (home/away), two vs. BYU (home/away), two vs. Texas Tech (home/away), two vs. Kansas (home/away), at Vanderbilt

Memphis
vs. Ole Miss, two vs. Mississippi State (home/away), vs. Missouri, at Purdue

SMU
at TCU

Tulane
at Auburn, two vs. Ole Miss (home/away), two vs. Mississippi State (home/away), vs. Oklahoma, at Kansas State, at Northwestern

Tulsa
three vs. Oklahoma State (one home/two away), at Michigan State, at Ohio State, at Ole Miss

Advertisement