A few notes before I begin. First of all, this is a highly subjective process, because it has to be. I have general outlines, but every team has to be judged on its own merits. It would be foolish, for example, to expect the exact same schedules out of Alabama and Kansas. Obviously, a College Football Playoff contender has to be held to a higher standard.
Second of all, I will give a grade for each game and an overall grade. The overall grade is not simply an average of the individual grades. It is a grade in its own right looking at the totality of a team’s nonconference schedule. Every game against an FCS team earns an automatic F. But if a Power 5 team schedules one FCS team and two other really good games, the one FCS game won’t really hurt the overall grade.
Finally, the Big 12, Big Ten, and Pac 12 are relatively simple as to how to judge the schedules. There are only three games. I expect one game against a Power 5 team of relatively equal standing. The second game should be against at least a challenging Group of 5 team, and I’ll accept one cupcake as the third game. The ACC and SEC–who each play four nonconference games–present a very different challenge in grading.
Big 12 Nonconference Schedule Grades
Iowa State Cyclones
Sept. 1st, South Dakota StateScheduling tough FCS teams is always a risk, especially for a program with Iowa State’s recent history.Grade: F
Sept. 8th, @IowaThis rivalry is one of the most underrated P5 annual games. This year, both teams might actually end up being ranked, to boot. It’s a good time for the Hawkeye State.Grade: A+
Sept. 22nd, AkronThe Zips are a perennial cupcake, but Terry Bowden has done an incredible job with the program. This game might be competitive for a quarter or two.Grade: D
Overall:Iowa State is usually a team that needs all the wins it can get to make a bowl, but that doesn’t look true anymore. Two cupcakes and one tough game is expected for the Cyclones in a normal year, but maybe this is a little too easy for where Matt Campbell has the program.Grade: C+