Top 25 toughest schedules (cont.)
Posted: Thursday June 21, 2007 12:52PM; Updated: Thursday June 21, 2007 4:04PM
Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 92-63 (.594)
Why they're No. 6: Tennessee's difficult season opener at California and its relatively tough matchup with Southern Mississippi compensate for the cakewalks against Arkansas State and Louisiana-Lafayette that make up the rest of the Vols' nonconference schedule. Tennessee avoids Auburn and Louisiana State from the SEC West, but a trip to Alabama and a home game with Arkansas still offer quite a challenge. And this is an odd year, which means Tennessee must go to Gainesville for its annual showdown with Florida.
Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 84-56 (.600)
Why they're No. 7: Remember that brutal midseason stretch last year when the Gators faced Kentucky, Alabama, Louisiana State, Auburn and Georgia in consecutive weeks? Florida doesn't have to worry about Alabama again, but the Gators will face Auburn, LSU, Kentucky and Georgia in a four-week span. Florida's traditionally tough SEC schedule and its season-ending showdown with Florida State compensate for the Gators' nonconference games with Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic. Don't mark that Troy game down as an obvious blowout just yet. The Trojans gave Florida State and Georgia Tech all they could handle last year.
Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 82-71 (.536)
Why they're No. 8: The consensus preseason national title favorite will have to earn its way to the championship game. USC will host Oregon State and UCLA, but the rest of its toughest games are on the road. The Trojans have nonconference visits to Nebraska and Notre Dame, along with conference road tests at Oregon and California. Each of USC's final six opponents played in bowl games last season.
Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 99-55 (.643)
Why they're No. 9: Stanford coach Jim Harbaugh won't get a chance to ease into his new job. Washington -- the lone team to lose to Stanford last year -- is the Cardinal's only opponent that had a losing record in 2006. Stanford faces four teams (USC, TCU, Notre Dame and California) that won at least 10 games last season. The only reason Stanford doesn't rank higher on this list is because most of the Cardinal's toughest games are at home. Then again, unless Stanford shows tremendous improvement this season, it really won't matter where Stanford plays.
10. Mississippi State
Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 85-56 (.603)
Why they're No. 10: As if Mississippi State doesn't have enough trouble dealing with the rigors of an SEC schedule, the Bulldogs also must travel to West Virginia in between games against Tennessee and Kentucky. Mississippi State could fall out of contention in the West by mid-September because the Bulldogs face LSU and Auburn in the first three weeks of the season. The Bulldogs later encounter a grueling five-week stretch in which they face Tennessee, West Virginia, Kentucky, Alabama and Arkansas.
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