The Upset ranks each WAC school's non-conference schedule, factoring in strength of schedule, travel, etc. (This is a ranking of the schedule, not a predicted finish or how each team will fare in their non-conference games).
THE BEST SCHEDULES
1. FRESNO STATE
UC Davis, @Wisconsin, @Cincinnati, @Illinois
Fresno State once again lives up to what has become their scheduling battle cry: Anyone, Anywhere, Anytime.
Anyone: The Bulldogs play 3 games against BCS-conference teams, one of which is the defending Big East champion.
Anywhere: All 3 games vs. BCS-conference opponents are on the road.
Anytime: The Bulldogs will battle the Illini in what is bound to be a frigid December 5th matchup in Urbana-Champaign.
2. SAN JOSE STATE
@USC, Utah, @Stanford, Cal Poly
The Spartans boast the non-conference schedule featuring teams with the best record coming out of 2008, the record of 38-11. Both games vs. BCS-conference opponents are on the road, and, well ... they play USC. As if that isn't enough, they also host the defending Sugar Bowl champion Utah Utes, a team that will definitely be solid (but not fantastic like last season). Not to mention their so-called "gimme game" is against FCS-playoff-team Cal Poly, a team that lost to Wisconsin in Madison by one point last season.
@Notre Dame, @Colorado State, Missouri, UNLV
Nevada gets credit here for traveling to South Bend to face the Fighting Irish in the opener. Notre Dame will be a team eager to put last year behind them. The Wolfpack will also be hosting Missouri.
T-3 LOUISIANA TECH
@Auburn, @Navy, Nicholls State, @LSU
Instincitively, a glance at this schedule would have you thinking about ranking it #1. Louisiana Tech earns this ranking by playing 2 SEC teams on the road, as well as Navy, a team that has gone bowling for two straight years. However, Auburn isn't the power it used to be (this is the team that won the 3-2 thriller over an awful Mississippi State team last year).
5. UTAH STATE
@Utah, @Texas A&M, Southern Utah, @BYU
The Aggies' schedule only falls to #5 because they only leave Utah once in non-conference play, and face a Utah team that will be good, but not great like last year. They also host Southern Utah in a game they should be able to handle easily. Travel won't hurt them like other teams on the list. However, they do travel to rowdy Kyle Field to play Texas A&M, and will likely get steam-rolled by BYU.
6. NEW MEXICO STATE
Prairie View A&M, @New Mexico, @San Diego State, @Ohio State
These Aggies fall in-between having a good schedule and a bad schedule. They play an FCS team in Prairie View, and the two teams that will likely bring up the bottom in the MWC, New Mexico and Suck Dog errrrr San Diego State, two games whose outcomes will shed much light on how the WAC and MWC compare. However, NMSU does travel to Columbus to play Ohio State in an odd, late-October non-conference matchup. This game keeps NMSU's schedule out of the bottom.
SCHEDULES THAT SHAME
Central Arkansas, @Washington St, @UNLV, Wisconsin
One FCS team, and on the road at the second-to-worst BCS-conference team of last season in Washington State doesn't prop up your scheduling cred if you are the Warriors. A trip to Vegas to play an improving UNLV is a decent game. Wisconsin looks good on paper, but this game favors Hawaii. It is Hawaii's annual 13th game they are allowed to schedule due to their traveling disadvantage. Do you think an average Wisconsin team will be focused much, leaving balmy Madison to fly to the Islands in December?
8. BOISE STATE
Oregon, Miami OH, @Bowling Green, UC Davis
A return on the home-and-home with Oregon will be a fantastic matchup, and the Ducks should fear. Facilities maintenance employees at Boise State have literally had to scrape up splattered duck from the blue turf, as occasionally a quacker will mistake the field for the surface of a pond. However, Boise did little else to even attempt a challenging schedule: an FCS team, a terrible MAC team, and a below-average MAC team. This isn't even a case where a school schedules someone like a Washington State 5 years in advance, and then the other program happens to tank before your game with them comes around. Nope. Not even an attempt besides the Oregon game. For a team that wants to be considered elite, this is a step backwards.
@Washington, San Diego State, @Northern Illinois, Colorado St
The Vandals schedule features teams that went a combined 15-35 last season, including the worst BCS-conference team in the nation last year, Washington, and the worst team in the MWC, San Diego State. Two matchups against average N. Illinois and Colorado State don't do much for the Vandals, who seem to have tried to schedule as many wins as possible. Too bad for Idaho, The Upset would be suprised if they were able to manage even one win anyway.