How do Power 5 Non-Cons Stack Up?

How do Power 5 Non-Cons Stack Up?

Hello all,

I have been sitting on this well-researched and potentially controversial  article for far too long, waiting for “just the right moment” to publish it.  Well, seeing as we are now in the midst of the off season and we have a non-holiday weekend coming up, I figured now was the time.  Time to stir that soup!  -Michaelangelo

Name that Conference

by Richard Hefner (Pitt-Cocks Fan)

After hearing all the talk about Pitt’s schedule during the season, I was curious to see how the various non-conference schedules stacked up, so I reviewed all 2018 out of conference (OOC) scheduling for all 64 P5 conference teams.

First, the ground rules for my analysis:

As you are aware, some conferences schedule 8 conference games (ACC and SEC) while others (Big10, Big 12 and Pac12) schedule 9. This results in four conferences having to fill 4 OOC spots, while the the SEC and ACC have to fill only three.

This review does NOT take include bowls.

Notre Dame is considered a P5 team.

BYU is more of a gray area. Most experts consider independent BYU a G5
team. But for scheduling purposes the ACC, Big10, and SEC consider BYU as Power 5, and so for this exercise, I am including BYU as a P5 team but will note whenever they are included.

So, what did my review find?  Some interesting results!

There were six teams who scheduled zero Power 5 non-cons.  They also did not play BYU.

Editor’s Note:  These teams suck.  Really they do, and the athletic directors that made these schedules should be paraded naked through the town square.  (Metaphorically speaking of course).  

  • Illinois
  • Minnesota
  • Oklahoma State
  • Arkansas
  • Oregon
  • Washington State

There were three teams that did not play a P5 opponent but did play BYU.

Editor’s note:  Based on each conference’s scheduling rules, only Wisconsin counted this game as “Power 5”.  I personally find it ironic that the Pac 10 does not consider BYU as a Power 5 opponent, since BYU is probably better than half the conference, but perhaps this is because they want the Cougars on the outside looking in.  Note that Utah-BYU is also a rivalry game, so kudos to those schools for keeping “Holy War” alive, and also preserving what is one of college football’s more colorful traditions, in the “Battle for the Beehive Boot“.  If only the good folks at Penn State were equally as aware of how much tradition means to fans on both sides.  

  • Wisconsin
  • Arizona
  • Utah

It should be noted N.C. State did not play a P5 team but did have West Virginia on the schedule. The game was canceled due to a hurricane. N.C. State scheduled G5 East Carolina as a replacement.

Ten teams played two Power 5 opponents.  Pitt is one of those teams.

Editor’s note:  Surprisingly there are only five voluntarily-scheduled rivalry games in here.  I thought there might be more.  Most of the ACC teams have Notre Dame on their schedule as well due to ND’s scheduling agreement with the conference.  While many people don’t like this agreement, I kind of do.  It helps ACC Strength of Schedule and national recognition and it leaves the Coastal wide open for the taking, which of course, opens the door for Pitt.  How boring would it be if the Irish got blown out by Clemson every year in Charlotte?   Pretty damn boring, let me tell you.  Rivalry games (excluding Pitt / ND which is a scheduling coincidence) in bold.  My comments are in italics.

  • Clemson (Texas A&M, South Carolina)
  • Florida State (Notre Dame, Florida)
  • Louisville (Alabama, Kentucky)
  • Duke (Baylor, Northwestern) Love the “smart school” matchup here between Duke and Northwestern.  Not sure if Baylor is considered a “Smart School” or not, but I do consider them to be in Duke’s weight class, so to speak.
  • PITT (Penn St., Notre Dame)  It’s fair to point out that the other FBS school on Pitt’s non-con was the only Group of 5 School to go undefeated in the previous season and also knock off an SEC school in a bowl.
  • Ohio St. (Oregon St., TCU)
  • Northwestern (Duke, Notre Dame)
  • Purdue (Boston College, Missouri)  Interesting OOC scheduling here with teams that are compelling matchups and pretty much on the same level.
  • Texas (Maryland, USC)
  • USC (Notre Dame, Texas)

If include BYU, then you can add two more to this list.

  • Cal (North Carolina, BYU)
  • Washington (Auburn, BYU)

West Virginia would have played 2 if the game with N.C. State wasn’t cancelled. They did play Tennessee.  (And from what I hear there was about three full sets of teeth in that entire stadium…heyooo!)

So how did the six teams who did NOT play a P5  opponent fare overall?

  • One ended up in the CFP final rankings:  #13 Wash. State (and nobody east of Boise and West of the Cascades cares about them anyway)
  • Two ended up with a losing record:  Illinois and Arkansas, (All you naysayers take note…you want to complain about mediocrity? At least we aren’t these guys)
  • The remaining three teams were bowl eligible.  (Minnesota 6-6, OK State 6-6, Oregon 9-3) What is even more noteworthy is that all three teams won their bowl.

How about the teams who played only BYU?  (I’m only showing regular season records, but I am indicating how they fared in their bowl)

  • Wisconsin 7-5, won Pinstripe
  • Arizona 5-7
  • Utah 9-3, lost Holiday

And what of the 12 teams who played two P5 opponents (including BYU)

  • Five ended up ranked in the final CFP rankings, four were bowl-eligible but not ranked and three had losing records.  Editor’s Note:  I didn’t have time to go back and look at which teams landed where but I can tell you that one of the three bowl eligible teams was Pitt.

For those of you who wish for all Power 5 teams to play 12 Power 5 opponents, I will tell you that nobody does that.

But… six teams played or scheduled 11 P5 opponents

  • Ohio State
  • Northwestern
  • Purdue
  • USC
  • Texas A&M
  • West Virginia (One P5 Game cancelled and not rescheduled)


  • 16 teams did not play an FCS team – Oklahoma, Texas, Arizona State, UCLA, USC and 11 teams from the Big10. (Illinois, Iowa and Nebraska were the only teams from the Big10 who did play an FCS opponent.)
  • Florida played 2 FCS teams. In their defense, one of their FCS opponents was Idaho.  Back in 2016, a hurricane postponed a home game with LSU. To win the SEC east division, Florida was forced to play an AWAY game with LSU. To make this happen, Florida had to cancel a $ 1+M buy HOME game with then FBS Idaho to open a date. Instead of just writing a check to Idaho, the game was rescheduled for 2018. In 2018, Idaho dropped to FCS, but when the game was scheduled they were FBS.


  • There are 64 Group of 5 teams (65 including BYU). Those 64 teams played a total of 100 games against the 64 Power  conference teams. Group of 5 teams had an overall 16-84 W/L record or 16%.
  • 2 Group of 5 teams (Air Force, and Hawai’i) did not play a P5 conference opponent.
  • Navy played ND (rivalry game)
  • 9 Group of 5 teams played three Power 5 opponents. While some of these games may be Home/Away or 2 for 1 scheduling, more than 1 (*cough* Kent State *cough*) are probably are $ games for their cash strapped athletic departments.
  • 21 Group of 5 teams played two P5 opponents.
  • No Group of 5 team won 2 or more games over Power 5 opponents. UCF would probably have won two if their game with North Carolina wasn’t cancelled due to a hurricane.

And now for the fun part.  Now that you are an expert on Out of Conference Scheduling, I’ve created a little game for you to test your knowledge.

Screen Shot 2019-05-09 at 10.45.46 PM

Mike will reveal the answers on Monday night, so weigh in now!

Editor’s note:  What a great idea for reader engagement.  I’m so thrilled about this game, that I’ve decided to mail the winner the last Pitt POV T-shirt in existence.  Suitable for framing!  Ties will be broken by a random drawing.  Get your ballots in now!