With the CFSL schedule being unveiled last night, it’s time we really jump into the minutia of the schedule and analyze it from top to bottom and across the conferences. Obviously that would be a really long article, so we’ll give you the five major aspects you need to know about the season seven schedule.
1) THE OPENING STRETCH
Few teams have a more difficult and more weighted opening stretch than Clemson and Ohio State. Three conference games right out of the gate and they’re not easy for either team. Clemson has to face LSU, Auburn, and Alabama to open their season, and they have to go to the Bayou and to Auburn. Ohio State, on the other hand, gets a neutral site date with Texas and then they get Notre Dame in Columbus before going to Los Angeles to face USC. While the location is a bit more favorable to the Buckeyes, their opponents are not. If either team has any hopes of making the playoffs, they’ll need to find a way to head into week four with a record of 2-1 otherwise, they’ll need help.
2) THE LONG ROAD HOME
Throughout the season, every team will have stretches of consecutive home and road games respectively. For most, that stretch is no longer than two, but a few teams have three or more of each. Florida, for example, is in the Swamp for weeks three through five. However, here we want to focus on those teams with long road stretches, and oddly enough, they’re all Big Ten teams.
Michigan, Oregon, and USC all have three game road stretches. Michigan’s takes place in weeks five through seven against Clemson, Notre Dame, and Nebraska. Oregon starts their season at Michigan, Florida State, and Auburn. USC ends their season on the road, going to Oregon, Notre Dame, and Texas. Texas, who is now in the Big Ten, has four straight road games spanning from week four to week seven. They’re on the road for Alabama, Notre Dame, Nebraska, and Oregon. It’s one of the longest road stretches a team has had to endure in CFSL history.
3) CHAMPIONS OF THE PAST
Teams who face past National Champions, let’s have this conversation before diving into last season’s playoff teams. Alabama, for example, faces three CFSL Orange Bowl Champions as they have to play Clemson, Texas, and Auburn. The Orange Bowl has been the site for the National Championship for the last two seasons, and before that was the site of the two conference winners but never quite gave us a true National Champion like the current playoff format does. LSU will play both Auburn and Texas this season, which is also true for Oregon and USC. No team other than Alabama has to face three Orange Bowl Champions this season.
4) PLAYOFF CALIBER
Everybody’s favorite part of the schedule. Facing last season’s playoff teams and who gets the most. To run this down, remember that Texas, Auburn, and Alabama were the top three seeds in the SEC and Ohio State, USC, and Oregon were the three for the Big Ten. Ultimately the number two seeds of Auburn and USC duked it out for a title.
The entirety of the Big Ten has, to some degree, four playoff teams on their schedule. Ohio State, Oregon, Texas, and USC all made the playoffs last season. Ohio State, in addition to their three in-conference foes, faces a playoff AD in LSU. Texas has Alabama on their schedule, in addition to their in-conference foes and a playoff AD in LSU. USC, the lucky Trojans, face the all of the playoff teams from last season. They face Auburn, Alabama and Ohio State in the first three weeks before facing Oregon and Texas later in the season.
As far as the SEC goes, LSU has to face four of last season’s playoff teams with Ohio State, Auburn, Alabama, and Texas on the slate. Alabama gets a similar treatment having to face LSU. Auburn, though, the perk of winning it all, gets four if we include LSU. Otherwise, they only face Alabama, Oregon and USC.
5) HEAVY IS THE HEAD THAT WEARS THE CROWN
In all of CFSL history, no team has ever won back-to-back National Titles. Auburn is the only team to appear in not only multiple National Championship games, but also in back-to-back National Championship games. Let me throw out this tidbit too. How crazy is it that Auburn has yet to win their own conference? They’ve been to three National Championships, won one, and have never won the SEC. All of this is to set the stage, because the whole of the CFSL would like to keep Auburn out of the playoffs. That each team will bring the absolute best in the hopes of tearing the crown from the head of the Auburn Tigers. Their schedule is set up for it. Facing USC, followed by two home dates with Clemson and Oregon, then a road trip to the Swamp with the Gators. That covers the first half of the season. The second half: The Tigers return home for Miami, then take to the road for Florida State, at home for LSU, and then they wrap up with a road trip for the Silver Spoon Bowl to face Alabama.
Opportunities for teams to boast that they defeated the defending National Champions, but the question remains. Based on this schedule, will these teams find a way to lock Auburn out of the playoffs for the very first time in CFSL history? The pressure, and the race to the season seven, CFSL playoffs, is on.