On Friday we began to explore the two preeminent divisions in college football, the Pac-12 North and the SEC West. The first in our three part series can be found here. Now let us recommence with an admittedly trivial exercise as keen readers will notice that we will not see this acted out on the field unless representatives collide within the new playoff system.
Oregon State vs. Texas A&M
Nov 23, 2013; Corvallis, OR, USA; Oregon State Beavers quarterback Sean Mannion (4) throws a pass against the Washington Huskies in the first half at Reser Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jaime Valdez-USA TODAY Sports
TAMU has provided an interesting addition to the SEC West marching in from the Big 12 and making a colossal argument for their inclusion in the powerhouse. How much of that success was due to Heisman winner Johnny Manziel will be seen in the coming years, but the fact that this strong program landed fourth in their conference. In addition to the possibility of a one weapon system, it should be remembered that TAMU lost to every ranked opponent during the regular season. That combined with a cupcake schedule that brought a barrage of weak in state opponents willing to travel to College Station. The Aggies could easily be revealed as a house of straw next season.
The Beavers found themselves in a similar situation, beating those whom they should, and getting waxed by stronger opponents. OSU has gone to bowls 11 of the last 15 years, and somehow seems to find success when none was expected. Pac-12 foes know good and well not to underestimate the boys from Corvallis and A&M would be wise to keep Coach Mike Riley’s ability to alter his offense and defense to suit his needs on any gameday.
Texas A&M has begun to break the SEC rule of scheduling the weakest opponents available, if only moderately. The Aggies have scheduled Arizona State in 2015 and a home and home with Oregon in 2018 and 2019. That’s not to say these moves forgive the Lamars and UTSAs also present on their future schedules.
Oregon State is not reaching for a strong SOS, either. A trip to the Big House in Ann Arbor in a few years as well as a double bill with Minnesota do not eclipse the amount of Big Sky and Mountain West cannon fodder visiting Reser Stadium.
So the Aggies have promised to play the Ducks at the end of this decade, which still may not happen, but send some respect toward Eugene and College Station. As you will see, these are not the norm.
Washington vs. LSU
The battle of purple and gold has happened twice in the past few years, with LSU spanking the Huskies each time, both in Seattle and Baton Rouge. LSU somehow found themselves among the middle after a promising year went awry. Wins against a down TCU and a historically poor Florida (how Florida was still ranked #17 in mid-October is a great example of why this ranking system is heinously flawed), showed promise, but a heart breaking loss at Ole Miss may have been the breaking point for the Tigers. TCU might have been a bold scheduling choice, but was likely scheduled when TCU was still a non-Major. Throw in UAB, Kent, and Furman and we see that the SEC powerhouses like to coast into conference play.
Say what you like about Washington, they scheduled Boise, beat them, and then claimed the Bronco’s coach as reward. They followed Boise with the historically mediocre Illinois and then completed their trifecta of orange with an Idaho State team that’s schedule appears to contain mental hospitals or penitentiaries as opponents. Washington played to their opponents most of the season, playing Stanford tough, getting smacked by Oregon and ASU, and slapping Oregon State prior to nearly losing the Apple Cup.
The future looks difficult in the Bayou. LSU has scheduled at least one major opponent each year for the next five. Wisconssin twice, Arizona State (Sun Devils are going to have to learn to play outside of Tempe), and NC State twice. In fact, in 2016 the Tigers will travel to Lambeau Field to play the Badgers, then the next week to Tempe. Gutsy scheduling by LSU, and congratulations on bucking the trend.
Washington does not seem to care about SOS. They are using their Hawaii trip exception (extra football game) to invite brand new FBS member Georgia State to Montlake. Throw on Eastern Washington and the aforementioned horrendous Illinois, well, if the Dawgs are not undefeated through non-conference I will be laughing giddily. Washington does not actually get a non-conference power team until Wisconsin in 2018. On that note, we are seeing the Badgers appear frequently, so good on you Madison for scheduling tough.
Tomorrow we will conclude this excercise. We look forward to discussing what everyone thought we would be seeing at the Rose Bowl two Mondays ago, along with two upstart programs.