Power Ranking Non-Conference Schedules in the American
Let’s rank the American Athletic Conference's 2014 non-conference schedules:
1. SMU Mustangs: Aug. 30, Baylor Bears (11-2); Sept. 6, North Texas Mean Green (9-4); Sept. 20, Texas A&M Aggies (9-4); Sept. 27, TCU Horned Frogs (4-8).
Why: SMU’s non-conference schedule is even tougher than last season’s deadly slate, replacing Montana State and Texas Tech with an up-and-coming North Texas and the reigning Big 12 champion Baylor.
2. Cincinnati Bearcats: Sept. 13, Toledo Rockets (7-5); Sept. 20, Miami-of-Ohio RedHawks (0-12); Ohio State Buckeyes (12-2); Miami-Fla. Hurricanes (9-4).
Why: Two daunting trips to Columbus and South Beach are looming for the Bearcats, but they should be 2-0 heading into them.
3. Memphis Tigers: Aug. 30, Austin Peay Governors (0-12)*; Sept. 6, UCLA Bruins (10-3); Sept. 20, Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders (8-5); Sept. 27, Ole Miss Rebels (8-5).
Why: Take away an underwhelming matchup with an FCS school that was winless in 2013 and Memphis has one of the more difficult non-conference schedules in the American.
4. East Carolina Pirates: Aug. 30, North Carolina Central (5-7)*; Sept. 6, South Carolina Gamecocks (11-2); Sept. 13, Virginia Tech (8-5); Sept. 20, North Carolina Tar Heels (7-6).
Why: Now that it has claimed ownership of the state of North Carolina, ECU will have the opportunity to rule both of the Carolinas with USC and UNC on the schedule.
5. Tulsa Golden Hurricane: Sept. 6, Oklahoma Sooners (11-2); Sept. 13, Florida Atlantic Owls (6-6); Sept. 27, Texas State Bobcats (6-6); Oct. 4, Colorado State Rams (8-6).
Why: Every opponent on this list at least had enough wins to be bowl eligible last season, and the Sooners could possibly be a top-3 team heading into the preseason.
6. Central Florida Knights: Aug. 30, Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5); Sept. 13, Missouri Tigers (12-2); Oct. 11, BYU Cougars (8-5), TBA.
Why: Once UCF adds another team to its non-conference schedule, it could shoot up these rankings.
7. Temple Owls: Aug. 28, Vanderbilt Commodores (9-4); Sept. 6, Navy Midshipmen (9-4); Sept. 20, Delaware State Hornets (5-6)*; Nov. 15, Penn State Nittany Lions (7-5).
Why: Although Vanderbilt and Penn State are moving on to new eras under different head coaches, both should provide plenty of issues for the Owls.
8. South Florida Bulls: Aug. 30, Western Carolina Catamounts (2-10)*; Sept. 6, Maryland Terrapins (7-6); Sept. 13, NC State Wolfpack (3-9); Sept. 27, Wisconsin (9-4).
Why: If Willie Taggart is going to bounce back from an abysmal two-win season in his first year with USF, it’ll likely have to come in conference play.
9. Tulane Green Wave: Sept. 6, Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets (7-6); Sept. 13, Southeastern Louisiana Lions (11-3)*; Sept. 20, Duke Blue Devils (10-4); Sept. 27, Rutgers Scarlet Knights (6-7).
Why: After reaching the postseason for the first time since 2002, Tulane will have aspirations to win a bowl game in 2014—and at least splitting these games would put the Green Wave in a good position to do so.
10. Connecticut Huskies: Aug. 28, BYU Cougars (8-5); Sept. 6, Stony Brook Sea Wolves (5-6)*; Sept. 13, Boise State Broncos (8-5); Army Black Knights (3-9).
Why: UConn isn’t a lock to win any of these matchups. Just ask Towson.
11. Houston Cougars: Aug. 30, UTSA Roadrunners (7-5), Sept. 27, BYU Cougars (8-5); TBA, Grambling State Tigers (1-11)*, TBA.
Why: Grambling State is an FCS program in shambles and UTSA is still trying to stand on two feet as a full member of the FBS.
*denotes FCS team
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