With the SEC mandating all teams play a "Power 5" out of conference opponent, schools will be forced to re-think their future scheduling to ensure fan enjoyment while balancing schedules to maximize home games, keep fans interested and potentially make a positive impact on the playoff committee's view of a team's resume. As a result of Georgia, South Carolina and Florida playing in-state ACC teams every year, nearly half of the East's football teams have their "Power 5" opponent locked in.
In Year2's article from this week, West teams have seven of the eight most recent schedules in which they've played no "Power 5" teams. With future scheduling availability notwithstanding, our goal is to find the most entertaining match-ups for each West team while finding teams that the West schools have not played. Below is my list of match ups based on teams that have not played regular season games and would offer interesting games, trips, back stories, and, ideally, a resume builder for the playoff committee.
Alabama has historically played most of the other blue bloods of college football, with multiple match-ups against Southern Cal, Penn State, Notre Dame, Texas and Oklahoma, among others. The most notable match-ups missing from Alabama's resume on a home-and-home basis are Michigan and Ohio State. The Big Ten powers have played Alabama in multiple bowl games and one time each at a neutral site season opener, but never on campus or in Birmingham.
With their decades of residence in the Southwest Conference, Arkansas has played all the major Texas teams regularly, as well as playing the geographically close Oklahoma schools multiple times. While coaching staffs would probably change before this game would be able to be played, the obvious team for Arkansas to play is Wisconsin for the #karma. The Razorbacks and Badgers have played once in a non-bowl match-up, a 1912 game in Madison.
Historically, Auburn has scheduled more similarly to the SEC East teams with a permanent opponent than most of their SEC brethren. Having played Georgia Tech 92 times and Clemson 49 times, they have played these two opponents more often than they have seven of their fellow SEC members. While an annual series with Georgia Tech would be ideal, Georgia Tech likely would not be up to having two SEC teams on their calendar every year. For Auburn, an out-of-conference game match-up with Penn State would offer a game between a pair of land-grant schools in similar size towns that often fall just under the top tier of teams in their conference.
LSU is an easy pick. While Clemson has played seven separate SEC teams at least 10 times, the Tigers of Clemson and the Tigers of LSU have never matched up on campus. This promises to be a battle to settle which is the real Death Valley once and for all.
While Ole Miss has gets a bad wrap at times for its non-conference scheduling, it has scheduled decently over the past decade, including home-and-homes with Texas, Texas Tech, Missouri (pre-SEC), Wake Forest, as well as non-"Power 5" Fresno State and Wyoming. Remarkably, the games against Fresno were the first time Ole Miss ever played a West Coast team, including bowl games. A home-and-home match-up with Oregon or Washington would offer an intriguing clash of cultures and the Rebel's first Pac-12 games.
The Bulldogs may have scheduled the ideal "Power 5" match-up earlier this week with N.C. State, but that game has been played a handful of times in the past. State has played a surprising amount of schools outside of the south including Kansas State, Illinois, Indiana, Oregon, Oklahoma State and Washington. One match-up that gives an intriguing back story (with the same caveat as Arkansas) would be Boston College. Dan Mullen and BC Head Coach Steve Addazio coached together under Urban Meyer at Florida and Addazio followed Mullen as OC after Mullen left for Starkville.
Like Arkansas, Texas A&M has the long history of SWC/Big 12 opponents limiting the number of non conference match ups that have not taken place for the Aggies. While renewing the Texas series would be the ideal situation, that is likely off the table for a while.
Surprisingly, Texas A&M has never played Virginia Tech. Edited to correct, Virginia Tech and Texas A&M have played 4 times, apologies for the incorrect info. While the color schemes practically match, this would offer the only possible match-up of FBS senior military colleges.