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Top 25 toughest schedules (cont.)

Posted: Thursday June 21, 2007 12:52PM; Updated: Thursday June 21, 2007 4:04PM
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By Steve Megargee, Special to SI.com, Rivals.com

21. West Virginia

West Virginia schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 1 W. Michigan
Sept. 8 at Marshall
Sept. 13 at Maryland
Sept. 22 East Carolina
Sept. 28 at USF
Oct. 6 at Syracuse
Oct. 20 Mississippi State
Oct. 27 at Rutgers
Nov. 8 Louisville
Nov. 17 at Cincinnati
Nov. 24 Connecticut
Dec. 1 Pittsburgh

Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 86-65 (.570)
Bowl teams: SevenHome games: Six
Division I-AA opponents: None
AP Top 25 teams: Two (one at home)

Why they're No. 21: Big East bashers might argue that West Virginia only has to play a couple of tough games all year, but the Mountaineers' schedule suggests otherwise. West Virginia didn't schedule any Division I-AA foes and faces three nonconference games against teams that went to bowls last season. That includes a Thursday night nonconference road game with a Maryland team that went 9-4 in '06. West Virginia does get Louisville at home this year, but the Mountaineers also must travel to South Florida and Rutgers. South Florida won at West Virginia last year in one of the season's biggest upsets, while Rutgers lost to the Mountaineers in triple overtime.

22. Arizona

Arizona schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 1 at BYU
Sept. 8 Northern Arizona
Sept. 15 New Mexico
Sept. 22 at Cal
Sept. 29 Washington State
Oct. 6 at Oregon State
Oct. 13 at USC
Oct. 20 Stanford
Oct. 27 at Washington
Nov. 3 UCLA
Nov. 15 Oregon
Dec. 1 at Arizona State

Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 81-60 (.574)
Bowl teams: Eight
Home games: Six
Division I-AA opponents: One
AP Top 25 teams: Four (none at home)

Why they're No. 22: Arizona has one of the nation's toughest road schedules and must travel to face four teams that won at least 10 games last season. Then again, we're guessing BYU and Oregon State might not be quite as strong as they were a year ago. Arizona might have ranked higher on this list if it hadn't included Northern Arizona on its schedule. The Wildcats are one of only two Pac-10 teams to schedule a nonconference game against a Division I-AA program (Oregon State's schedule includes a Sept. 15 date with Idaho State).

23. Pittsburgh

Pittsburgh schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 1 Eastern Michigan
Sept. 8 Grambling
Sept. 15 at Michigan State
Sept. 22 Connecticut
Sept. 29 at Virginia
Oct. 13 Navy
Oct. 20 Cincinnati
Oct. 27 at Louisville
Nov. 3 Syracuse
Nov. 17 at Rutgers
Nov. 24 USF
Dec. 1 at West Virginia

Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 78-60 (.565)
Bowl teams: Six
Home games: Seven
Division I-AA opponents: One
AP Top 25 teams: Three (none at home)

Why they're No. 23: Pittsburgh must face all three of the top Big East teams (Louisville, West Virginia and Rutgers) on the road. The Panthers probably need to get off to a fast start because they end the season by facing Rutgers, South Florida and West Virginia in consecutive weeks. A fast start should be possible because Pittsburgh's underwhelming nonconference schedule includes dates with Eastern Michigan and Division I-AA Grambling State in the first two weeks of the season.

24. Maryland

Maryland schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 1 Villanova
Sept. 8 at Florida International
Sept. 13 West Virginia
Sept. 22 at Wake Forest
Sept. 29 at Rutgers
Oct. 6 Georgia Tech
Oct. 20 Virginia
Oct. 27 Clemson
Nov. 3 at North Carolina
Nov. 10 Boston College
Nov. 17 at Florida State
Nov. 24 at N.C. State

Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 78-63 (.553)
Bowl teams: Seven
Home games: Six
Division I-AA opponents: One
AP Top 25 teams: Four (two at home)

Why they're No. 24: Maryland opens the season with a couple of cakewalks, but the schedule gets much tougher from there. A pair of nonconference games against West Virginia and Rutgers make up for the fact that Maryland's ACC schedule doesn't include Virginia Tech or Miami. Maryland's tough games come in bunches. The Terrapins face West Virginia, Wake Forest and Rutgers on consecutive weekends in September. They also battle Atlantic Division rivals Boston College and Florida State on back-to-back weeks.

25. Texas A&M

Texas A&M schedule
Date Opponent
Sept. 1 Montana State
Sept. 8 Fresno State
Sept. 15 La.-Monroe
Sept. 20 at Miami
Sept. 29 Baylor
Oct. 6 Oklahoma State
Oct. 13 at Texas Tech
Oct. 20 at Nebraska
Oct. 27 Kansas
Nov. 3 at Oklahoma
Nov. 10 at Missouri
Nov. 23 Texas

Combined record of Division I-A opponents: 78-63 (.553)
Bowl teams: Seven
Home games: Seven
Division I-AA opponents: One
AP Top 25 teams: Two (one at home)

Why they're No. 25: Texas A&M's Big 12 schedule includes a trips to North Division favorites Nebraska and Missouri as well as dates with South Division rivals Oklahoma and Texas. The Oklahoma, Nebraska and Missouri games are all away from home. The Aggies also have a difficult game at Miami, though they shouldn't have any trouble in their other nonconference games unless Fresno State regains its 2005 form.

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