Strength of schedule in regards to college football offers a juncture for fanatics to discuss, object and appeal. 2015 offers a scattered mess of teams holding light competitions, while some will endure an onslaught of rivals.
Miami (FL) Hurricanes
Notable Games: Nebraska, at Cincinnati, at Florida State, at Pittsburgh
The Canes restored a bit of their prestige a year ago by going to a bowl game, but let’s face it. We aren’t opening up the scene for a 30 for 30 on “The U: Part 3” anytime in the near future.
Aside from a scrappy Cincy squad with a jam-packed offensive skill corps, an in-state rival in Florida State, and a trap contest in Pitt to conclude 2015, Miami also meets with Clemson, Virginia, and Georgia Tech at home. Sandwiched smack dab in the middle lies the Carolina-style gauntlet of Duke and North Carolina, both away from the Sunshine State.
I legitimately don’t see a single cakewalk for the Hurricanes once they dismantle the Florida Atlantic Owls the second week of the season.
Brad Kaaya looks capable of evolving into a big-time quarterback for the U once he transitions into his upperclassmen years, but the green and orange will endure a lot this fall.
Cal Golden Bears
Notable Games: at Texas, at UCLA, at Washington, at Oregon
The Bears will be peppered by loud venues in 2015. Toss the Stanford Cardinal in the mix, a defense that stymied Cal to their worst offensive performance in 2014, Arizona State, and USC, and Sonny Dykes has the most rigorous checklist in the entire conference.
Jared Goff will eclipse his passing yards from a season ago and the Bears as a unit should ring up scoreboards, so 2015 should be a very positive test for the program.
Marshall Thundering Herd
Notable Games: at Western Kentucky, Purdue
I don’t covet a college major in NCAA scheduling or alignment, but something tells me that Marshall may find a tougher conference than the C-USA in the near future. Perhaps the AAC?
The nature of the Thundering Herd will be all too evident the first week of the season when matching up with a Big 10 competitor in Purdue. Marshall graduated wide receiver Tommy Schuler and Rakeem Cato, a tandem that set off offensive fireworks while in West Virginia.
Luckily, another 1-2 punch on the outside could be sprouting in the system with receivers Deon’tay McManus and Hyleck Foster.
Fortunately for Marshall, they avoid Louisiana Tech, one of only a couple of teams (Western Kentucky the other) that provide a shot at slaying the beast in the C-USA.
I expect another season in which the Thundering Herd are constantly being highlighted on ESPN’s bottom ticker with “Score Alert” appearing every 12-15 minutes (if that).
Colorado State Rams
Notable Games: at Colorado, Minnesota, Boise State
McElwain’s departure may halt the chatter of CSU blossoming into the next Boise State or NIU, but 2015’s list of opponents may keep that buzz alive for just one more season.
A pretty subpar non-conference schedule even with the Buffaloes (have to play this in-state rival of course) and a middle-of-the-pack Big 10 team in Minnesota, the Rams also get a majority of the Mountain West’s heavy hitters at their stadium (Boise State, Air Force, San Diego State).