Spring practices are in full swing, but the big news around the CFFinsider compound is Conference USA and the Mountain West have finally released their football schedules for 2010. While this may seem late, oddly the 2010 football schedule is way ahead of last year when teams were scrambling to fill open dates well into the summer.
With the schedule complete, we can now analyze its effects on the upcoming season. Over the next few days we'll dissect our Ease of Schedule calculations, which ultimately fuel our preseason player projections. But first we start with some of this year's schedule notables.
Complete Schedule * Dates and opponents subject to change
Besides having to rebuild the Tide defense, what else could have Alabama coach Nick Saban on edge these days? Probably the fact that the Tide's last six games will be against conference foes coming off a bye week.
One of the beauties of playing in a Big Ten-only league the last four seasons (except 2008) was you didn't have to worry about bye weeks. That changes this year as the Big Ten adds a bye week and teams play through Week 13. Here are a few other bye week notes:
The schedule gets off to a smooth start with only Florida International, Louisiana Monroe and New Mexico State on a bye in Week One. However Boise State and Oregon State throw a monkey wrench in for fantasy owners by taking off Week Two. A few Big East and ACC teams get a rest in Week Three. Week Four is the first major week of byes with 16 teams taking the week off including: Arizona, Cal, Oklahoma St., Texas A&M, Texas Tech and Washington. Case Keenum's owners take note that Houston is off in Week Five. So is Cincinnati, Kansas State, Middle Tennessee St., Missouri and Nebraska. Week six boasts a pretty full slate of games, though Texas and Oklahoma get a break. The bye weeks hit the Big Ten in Week Seven as Northwestern and Penn State are off. This is also a big bye week for the Pac-10, with Arizona State, Oregon, Stanford and UCLA all idle. Some fantasy heavyweights get a bye in Week Eight, including: Boise State (second bye), Florida, Florida State, Michigan, Nevada, Oregon State, Southern Miss, Troy, Tulsa and USC. Dwight Dasher and Middle Tennessee State take their second bye in Week Nine along with Alabama, Georgia Tech, LSU, Virginia Tech and Wisconsin. A smattering of teams take off Week 10, most notable is Cal with its second bye week.
The start of the playoffs is relatively quiet with Hawaii, Michigan State and SMU on the shelves in Week 11. Week 12 also looks fairly fantasy friendly for owners with Auburn, Arizona State, Oregon, TCU and Washington the main notables. Even championship week, Week 13, is kind to fantasy footballers, as the Big Ten now gives us options for championship week. Baylor's Robert Griffin is likely the top fantasy option to take a seat in this one. Week 14 is obviously a mess with all but 30 teams on a bye; hopefully your league plans accordingly.
For most teams, you'll only have to navigate around one bye week. But there are a few teams that will have two byes between Week 1-13 that you'll need to manage. Owners of Dwight Dasher, Kellen Moore, Zach Collaros, Jordan Todman, LaMichael James, Jacquizz Rodgers, Dion Lewis and Jake Locker will want to take note of that list of teams below:
The fans of Auburn and Ohio State get a treat by having eight home games in 2010. Most teams only have six or seven.
Florida Atlantic gets the royal shaft by only having four homes games and traveling to Detroit to face Michigan State in a "neutral" site game. Teams that play only five home games include: Arkansas State, Army, Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Colorado State, Eastern Michigan, Florida International, Louisiana-Monroe, Louisiana-Lafayette, Miami (OH), Navy, Northern Illinois, New Mexico, Syracuse, Troy and Western Kentucky.
Neutral Site Games:
9/4 Colorado St. vs. Colorado (Denver)
9/4 Illinois vs. Missouri (St. Louis)
9/4 LSU vs. North Carolina (Atlanta)
9/4 Texas vs. Rice (Reliant)
9/6 Boise St. vs. Virginia Tech (Landover)
9/6 Maryland vs. Navy (Baltimore)
9/11 Michigan St. vs. FAU (Detroit)
9/18 Iowa St. vs. Kansas St. (Kansas City)
10/2 Oklahoma vs. Texas (Dallas)
10/9 Arkansas vs. Texas A&M (Arlington)
10/9 Texas Tech vs. Baylor (Dallas)
10/23 Notre Dame vs. Navy (Meadowlands)
10/30 Florida vs. Georgia (Jacksonville)
11/20 Army vs. Notre Dame (Yankee Stadium)
11/20 Penn St. vs. Indiana (Landover)
11/27 Kansas vs. Missouri (Kansas City)
12/11 Navy vs. Army (Philadelphia)
The 13th Game
While most teams play the standard 12 games, a few have the luxury of traveling to Hawaii, which for whatever reason allows teams to add a 13th game. Louisiana Tech is the only team that travels to Hawaii, but doesn't add a 13th game. Teams with 13 games:
San Jose State
We've all come to love the weekday games. A nice little prelude to the weekend. In Week One you have games from Thursday through Monday. Starting in Week Six we mix in Tuesday and Wednesday games. Best weeknight matchups? Here are my picks:
9/6 (Monday)- Boise St. @. Virginia Tech (Landover, Md)
9/17 (Friday) Nevada @ Cal
9/30 (Thursday) - Texas A&M @ Oklahoma St.
11/4 (Thursday) - Georgia Tech @ Virginia Tech
11/25 (Thursday) - Texas A&M @ Texas
11/26 (Friday) - Boise St. @ Nevada
11/26 (Friday) - Auburn @ Alabama
The addition of the 12th game to schedule has only increased the amount of teams scheduling non-FBS opponents. In all, 82 schools have scheduled at least one FCS opponent and seven have thought it a good idea to schedule two. To quote Denis Lemieux from the Chiefs they should "feel shame". Here are the teams that have scheduled two FCS opponents so we can all laugh at them, point and draft their fantasy players:
San Jose State
Teams that play one FCS opponent:
San Diego St.
Next up we'll be taking a look at the Top 10 Easiest and Hardest Schedules as well as the teams whose schedule gets considerably harder and easier compared to last season.