2013 College Football Schedule: 10 Teams With Easiest Path to National Championship
Easiest Road to the 2013 National Championship
One of the best things to do since the 2012 college football season is over is to immediately look towards 2013. A lot of factors go into predicting a team’s success the next season including: players graduating or leaving early, incoming recruiting classes, injuries, coaching changes and their schedule.
What makes this list even more difficult is not knowing how much teams will improve from the previous year. So for instance, take Oregon State this year and look at how they performed the previous season. Not many people thought that they would be contenders but they overachieved and had a solid year.
The point of this article is to examine the top 10 easiest schedules for teams on the road to the national championship. I’ll start out by saying that this list is not predicting that any of these teams will win the national title or even make it there, the point is to just look at their road to the championship game.
Most of the teams on this list are coming off stellar years and are looking to take that next step and prevent Alabama from claiming a third straight national championship. The SEC schedule will always be a tough obstacle to overcome on the way to the postseason but some of the teams lucked out and will have a lighter schedule than usual. The Big East is always a joke and one team will likely take advantage of it once again. The Pac 12 is top heavy so avoiding upsets is key and the Big 12 and Big Ten is mostly mediocre.
So without further ado, here are the top 10 teams with the easiest schedule on the way to the 2013 national championship.
10. South Carolina Gamecocks
Home Games: North Carolina, Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi State, Florida, Coastal Carolina, Clemson
Away Games: Georgia, UCF, Arkansas, Tennessee, Missouri
Analysis: Luckily for South Carolina they avoid playing the two top teams from the SEC West next season. They avoid Alabama and LSU but they still have to play Florida, Georgia and Clemson. An SEC schedule is never easy but their road games should be relatively easy wins besides the game at Georgia. Winning their home games will be of vital importance for the Gamecocks in 2013 if they want to take that next step and win a conference title, possibly even a national title.
9. Texas A&M Aggies
Home Games: Rice, Sam Houston State, Alabama, SMU, Auburn, Vanderbilt, UTEP, Mississippi State
Away Games: Arkansas, Ole Miss, LSU, Missouri
Analysis: The Aggies will be one of the trendy picks once the 2013 season rolls around in August and for good reason. They had a phenomenal 2012 season and they are returning the defending Heisman trophy winner in Johnny Manziel. Their schedule favors them as well as they only have four road games and they get Alabama at Kyle Field. The game at LSU figures to be their one road test so the Aggies are in good shape to make a legitimate run at a national championship.
8. Clemson Tigers
Home Games: Georgia, South Carolina State, Citadel, Boston College, Florida State, Wake Forest, Georgia Tech
Away Games: Maryland, NC State, Syracuse, Virginia, South Carolina
Analysis: When QB Tajh Boyd announced that he will be returning for his senior season Clemson fans rejoiced because it gives them a real shot to possibly win a national title. Their first and last games of the season are extremely difficult but in between those two games they won’t be tested much. Yes they still play Florida State but it’s in Clemson in 2013, a place where the Tigers play extremely well. If they can manage to beat the two SEC teams the Tigers could find themselves in a very nice spot come January.
7. Florida State Seminoles
Home Games: Wofford, Nevada, Idaho, Maryland, NC State, Syracuse, Miami
Away Games: Boston College, Clemson, Wake Forest, Pittsburgh, Florida
Analysis: Just glancing at Florida State’s schedule, although the set dates haven’t been announced yet, it seems like the Seminoles will only have two major tests, both coming on the road. Clemson and Florida will pose the biggest threats but other than those two game the rest of their schedule is painfully weak. There is not one single home game that the Seminoles should lose, I mean just look at their opponents. This is the reason why college football fans never take the ACC seriously.
6. Oregon Ducks
Home Games: Nicholls State, Tennessee, Cal, Washington State, UCLA, Utah, Oregon State
Away Games: Nevada, Colorado, Washington, Stanford, Arizona
Analysis: Oregon was one play away from playing for the national championship in 2012 and they figure to be right in the mix in 2013. Their schedule doesn’t pose many challenges, especially their home games. However, they do have two tough road games at Washington and more importantly at Stanford. If the Ducks can survive those road tests I think they will be playing for the National Championship in the Rose Bowl.
5. Oklahoma Sooners
Home Games: Louisiana-Monroe, West Virginia, Tulsa, TCU, Texas Tech, Iowa State
Away Games: Notre Dame, Kansas, Baylor, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas (Cotton Bowl)
Analysis: The Sooners do have some tough road games at Notre Dame and Kansas State but they should not lose a home game at all in 2013. Oklahoma will have to play well on the road if they want another chance at a national title because those will be the wins that they need. The Red River rivalry is always a crap-shoot because rivalry games are tough no matter how good either team is. I don’t think the Sooners will beat the Irish in South Bend but I can see them winning the rest of their games handily.
4. Virginia Tech Hokies
Home Games: Western Carolina, Marshall, Duke, North Carolina, Pittsburgh, Maryland
Away Games: East Carolina, Georgia Tech, Miami, Virginia, Boston College, Alabama (Georgia Dome)
Analysis: If you thought Florida State’s ACC schedule was weak just take a look at the Hokies’. Besides the Alabama game to open the 2013 season there is absolutely no challenges on their schedule. They avoid the two best teams in the ACC as they don’t have to play either Clemson or FSU and they get all of the bottom feeders. The ACC is not taken seriously and with schedules like this why should they. At least the Hokies play one tough non-conference game each year, mostly because they have to challenge themselves somehow.
3. Louisville Cardinals
Home Games: Ohio, Eastern Kentucky, Florida International, Memphis Rutgers, San Diego State, UCF
Away Games: Kentucky, Cincinnati, Connecticut, USF
Analysis: You can’t really ask for a much easier schedule for a team coming off of a BCS bowl win. They were big underdogs to Florida but they ended up blowing them out and gained a ton of confidence heading into 2013. Their schedule sets up nicely with their toughest Big East conference game coming at home against Rutgers. I don’t really see any way Louisville drops any of these games to be perfectly honest. However it is the Big East so who knows.
2. Kansas State Wildcats
Home Games: North Dakota State, Louisiana, UMass, Baylor, West Virginia, Iowa State, TCU, Oklahoma
Away Games: Texas, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas
Analysis: Bill Snyder and the Wildcats have a pretty easy road in 2013. They really only have two major tests (Oklahoma and at Texas) but besides that their schedule seems like a cakewalk. They can get revenge over Baylor at home, a place where I don’t think they will drop a game. Granted things change but for the most part I think K-State has it easy in 2013.
1. Ohio State Buckeyes
Home Games: Buffalo, San Diego State, Florida A&M, Wisconsin, Iowa, Penn State, Indiana
Away Games: Cal, Northwestern, Purdue, Illinois, Michigan
Analysis: Out of all the contenders from a season ago the Buckeyes easily have the lightest schedule in 2013. It would not surprise me one bit if Ohio State runs the table again and is playing for the national championship. None of their home games are particularly tough with Wisconsin going through a coaching change and Penn State starting to feel the effects from the NCAA sanctions. The game at Cal could be interesting but the Golden Bears don’t figure to be too tough next year. Of course there is the Michigan game and rivalry games are always a bit tricky but I don’t think it will be much of a contest in the end. Urban Meyer didn’t have a lot of stress last season and he doesn’t figure to have much in 2013 either with this easy schedule.