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The Toughest Future Schedules for the Top 25 Teams In College Football

As tough as last week was, the going only gets harder from here on out...
As tough as last week was, the going only gets harder from here on out...

In yesterday's look at the Alabama's statistics thus far this season, we made note that the Crimson Tide faces one of the toughest schedules in the nation from here on out. Using the NCAA's evaluation of the upcoming opponents' win percentage, Alabama faces the 17th toughest slate in the nation from here on out. The next logical question is how does the rest of the field stack up. So here is the AP Top 25 (Week 5) and the rank of every team's future and past schedule.

AP rank Team Future Opp Rank Past Opp Rank
1 Alabama 17 51 (tie)
2 Ohio State 27 106
3 Boise State 87 51 (tie)
4 Oregon 39 109 (tie)
5 TCU 82 24 (tie)
6 Nebraska 8 (tie) 100 (tie)
7 Florida 33 16
8 Oklahoma 18 51 (tie)
9 Stanford 47 51 (tie)
10 Auburn 29 28 (tie)
11 Wisconsin 8 (tie) 109 (tie)
12 LSU 19 28 (tie)
13 Utah 74 115
14 Arizona 42 10 (tie)
15 Arkansas 20 43 (tie)
16 Miami 62 17 (tie)
17 Iowa 1 39 (tie)
18 USC 50 90 (tie)
19 Michigan 15 85 (tie)
20 S. Carolina 29 (tie) 17 (tie)
21 Texas 8 (tie) 79 (tie)
22 Penn State 6 (tie) 12 (tie)
23 NC State 46 90 (tie)
24 Mich. State 26 90 (tie)
25 Nevada 103 85 (tie)

Source: NCAA

Well, Alabama's schedule is the toughest in the top ten barring only Nebraska and LSU's isn't that much further behind. Still, it could be a hell of a lot worse. Just ask the Iowa Hawkeyes or Texas Longhorns. Both have suffered tough losses already and the rest of their slate offers no relief whatsoever.

It's also apparent that two of the top ten schools are likely to run the table the rest of the way but we'll leave it to you to figure out who that might be.

The good news for those in the SEC is that the rest of the BCS landscape seems to be shaping up nicely. Boise State and TCU have generated plenty of publicity from the talking heads and the true believers, but thanks to James Madison the odds seem a bit unlikely that either one of those teams could leap past a one-loss SEC Champion. And if you survey the six BCS conferences, seemingly there are remarkably few teams who could legitimately threaten to run the table in the regular season. 

Neither the ACC or the Big East will turn out an undefeated team (sorry, North Carolina State). The Big Ten has a slew of undefeated teams at the moment, but preseason contenders Penn State and Iowa have both suffered a loss, and the only team from that conference that seemingly has the ability to make it unscathed through the regular season slate is Ohio State. 

The Big XII, too, looks down. Texas already has a loss after being embarrassed at home by struggling UCLA, and while Oklahoma is currently unbeaten close scares against lowly Air Force and Cincinnati indicate that an undefeated season is likely wishful thinking at this point by the Sooners. Nebraska is a threat, but they pick up Texas, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M from the Big XII South, plus they must go through the Big XII South champion in the Big XII Championship Game. You have to think that their offensive struggles will likely catch up to them somewhere.

That leaves the Pac-10, playing it's round-robin schedule with USC still in NCAA-imposed timeout. Oregon and Stanford have both looked very strong early, but one of those teams will join the ranks of the beaten this weekend after their showdown in Eugene. And even with Arizona still unbeaten, I don't think anyone is really willing to put their money on Mike Stoops yet, and in any event the round-robin schedule assures that at most only one team can potentially emerge unbeaten.

From the perspective of an SEC team, then, the landscape looks encouraging. After the first month of the college football season, only three BCS teams right now seemingly can be viewed as potentially running the table -- Ohio State, Nebraska, and the winner of Oregon v. Stanford -- and clearly a one-loss SEC champion will get a BCS Championship Game invitation over a one-loss team from another BCS conference. Clearly there is still a lot of football to be played and a few breaks to catch, but the early returns tend to indicate that there is a good chance that an SEC team could lose somewhere along the way in the regular season and still end up in Glendale on the night of January 10th.