This week, I rank the Power Five schools having the easiest rosters in major college football. To clarify, no team has an easy schedule irrespective of the conference it plays in and college football predictions indicate that challenges can arise even when playing against the “weakest” teams. Some diverse factors played a significant role in the conclusions I made, such as the 2015 records of the playing teams, the nonconference schedules, and the venues of the upcoming games. For teams playing division-based conferences, they must face all the teams within their respective divisions. The challenges come up with the teams they will have to play against from the other side, the strength of opponents at their home stadium, and the frequency of playing against them.
With all the above factors taken into consideration in the preparation of this list, five teams from the Power Five emerged with the least difficult schedules.
A number of tough games are lined up for the Gators this season, but one of their major threats will be playing Florida State on the road in the concluding week. They also play Georgia in Jacksonville and LSU in Gainesville, with the Gator’s visit to Knoxville an important head-to-head for the SEC East. The nonconference slate is the main factor that lists the Gators here, including their games against South Carolina, Missouri, Vanderbilt and Kentucky. They will have a home advantage with their remaining games against Presbyterian, North Texas, and UMass. Last season, Florida’s opponents had a combined winning percentage of 46.9 percent, with only five of them bowling.
It is very difficult for a Big Ten East team to appear in this list compared to a Big Ten West team because only some teams in the West have to contend with beating Michigan, Michigan State, or Ohio State. The Gophers automatically landed here due to such factors. With the Big Ten conference having nine games this season, the ratio of home and road games for the West is four to five respectively, which will haunt Minnesota. However, they appear in this list because they dodge all the powerful teams from the East to play Rutgers, Maryland, and Penn State. In the nonconference, Minnesota plays against Indiana State, Colorado State, and Oregon State, all at home. The Beavers, Colorado State, and the Sycamores had a 2-10, 7-6, and 5-6 in last season. The team holds a higher position here because they play against Penn State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska on the road.
In a twist of fate, the nonconference schedule for Baylor in 2016 looks so weak, and this comes as a surprise. The opening game will be against last season’s 4-7 Northwestern State team, followed by a 2-10 SMU, and finally a road trip game against a 5-7 Rice. Surviving this gauntlet will lead them straight to conference play. The advantage that Baylor has is that the team plays at home against TCU, but on the road against Oklahoma State. Furthermore, the Bears stay at No. 3 because of the stretch of games they will have to play in mid-season. In three weeks, they will visit Texas, return home to play TCU, and finally play Oklahoma on the road.
Surprisingly, Clemson stands out as one of the favorites to find their way to the College Football Playoff, and they have Deshaun Watson as the favorite to clinch the Heisman Trophy. In the season’s first Saturday, the Tigers face Auburn on the road in their nonconference schedule, with the rest including Troy and last season’s 3-9 South Carolina. Furthermore, the Tigers had the entire offseason to get ready for their toughest games against Auburn, Florida State, and Louisville. Generally, Clemson the Tigers only have five opponents that reached the bowl game last season.
1. Boston College
If you are a fan of Boston College, you must be upset because I placed your favorite team as the one with the easiest schedules next season. For the unmoved and happy fans, you should acknowledge that your last season’s 3-9 team was not up to standard last season, having an average of 17.2 points per game. Therefore, the easy schedule gives the Eagles an opportunity to rejuvenate themselves, as they have UConn, Buffalo, Wagner, and UMass (combined to go 14-23) in the nonconference. However, they must show their toughness against teams in the Conference play, including Florida State on the road. The Eagle’s five-game road schedule includes NC State, Wake Forest, UMass, and Virginia Tech, UMass’ obvious wins.
Congratulations to Boston College for having a fairly easy schedule this season!