Tough schedules don’t include I-AA

Jun 26, 2007 6:41 AM

I nearly choked on my Dew when seeing the Rivals.com top five most difficult schedules in college football. Aside from the Washington Huskies, a caveman can produce a better list.

Now we’re not about to get into a shouting match over rankings. That goes nowhere and in our business of betting means absolutely nothing. However, when looking for angles, weak schedules open the door to winning. And, now you have our interest.

Rivals defined the University of Washington as the school facing the nation’s toughest schedule in 2007. The scheduled is indeed a bear, with the Huskies opening Aug. 31 in the Carrier Dome against Syracuse. The rest of the nonconference slate is even tougher — Boise State, Ohio State, Hawaii.

But, South Carolina as No. 2! Quit sipping the Kool-Aid. The Gamecocks open with three straight home games — Louisiana Lafayette, Georgia and South Carolina State, a 1-AA. Later on, there’s ACC cellar North Carolina and archrival Clemson. Rivals.com argues that the Gamecocks face a brutal SEC run. Well, who in that broiler doesn’t?

Florida State was rated No. 3. The Seminoles have UAB at home, a brutal Colorado team in Boulder along with rebuilding programs at Alabama and Florida. No. 33 is more likely.

Michigan State was No. 4. UAB and Bowling Green on the slate is not worthy of top 5 consideration. Pitt and Notre Dame are strong so somewhere in the top 25 works for us.

Auburn completed the Rivals top 5. The nonconference list includes Kansas State, South Florida, Tennessee Tech and New Mexico State. Top 5? How about top 55! By the way, all four are in Athens.

"I agree, some of these schedules are wacky," said Mike Seba, longtime oddsmaker and college football analyst at Las Vegas Sports Consultants. There’s no way to look at Auburn and see a record worse than 9-3."

Seba’s standards for rating difficult schedules deal with the strength of a particular conference and whether that league is up or down.

"Bye weeks also play a major role," he said. "A schedule isn’t quite as tough if a team has two weeks to prepare for a difficult game."

There should be three absolutes that qualify a team for top five status when talking difficulty of schedule.

”¡ no games vs Division 1-AA members.

”¡ at least 6 teams coming off bowl appearances

”¡ nonconference foes off .500 or above seasons.

"Yeah, I can’t imagine South Carolina with the second toughest schedule," he said. "But it’s great fodder for talk shows."

Seba said he rates Washington "over / under 2½ wins," according the schedule.

"They could go winless with that sked," Seba quipped.

Seba’s early preseason No. 1 pick is no surprise — USC.

"They’re loaded, especially at running back with at least eight potential All Americans," he said. "LSU is No. 2 in most polls, but I think they’re overrated. I look for Michigan, Texas, Georgia and Arkansas to be strong."

Team in the rebuilding mode, according to Seba, are Notre Dame and last year’s defending national champ Florida.

"Give the Irish a year," he said.

WASHINGTON

Aug. 31,

at Syracuse

Sept. 8,

BOISE ST; 15, OHIO ST; 22, at

Ucla; 29, SOUTHERN CAL.

Oct. 13,

at Arizona St; 20, OREGON; 27, ARIZONA;

Nov. 3,

at Stanford, 10, at Oregon State;17,

CALIFORNIA; 24, WASHINGTON ST.

Dec. 1,

at Hawaii.