On the Inside Blitz on Monday, a good chunk of the schedule was revealed. Namely week one and then the final weeks of the season. As a whole, the schedule for Season Eight is not lacking any big games at any point during the course of the season. So let’s get into the real meat and potatoes of the schedule. Here is everything you need to know about the schedule for Season Eight.
1) The Long Road Home
Over the last couple of seasons, teams often find themselves in some lengthy road stretches. Last season, Texas was on the road for four straight weeks. Auburn opens their season at home against Notre Dame, but they then shift into a three game road stretch for weeks two through four. Most teams just have a two game road stretch though, and Alabama and Clemson have to end their seasons that way. None, however, have a longer road stretch than Ohio State. They open the season on a neutral site (against a Big Ten opponent no less), but they don’t get to return to Columbus until week six. That’s a four game road stretch, and five consecutive games to open the season without playing in front of their home fans.
2) The HOME STRETCH
Every team in the CFSL will see a back-to-back home game at some point this season, but only a select few will a longer stretch of home games. Three teams this season have a home stretch of three consecutive games and two of them will end their season that way. Ohio State and USC both cap their seasons on a three game home stretch, while Clemson will be playing at home in weeks two through four. The Buckeyes and the Trojans get to wrap up their conference schedules in front of their home fans while the Tigers will begin their conference schedule in front of the Clemson faithful.
3) REKINDLING A RIVALRY
As everyone knows, week eight is reserved for rivalry week. Auburn against Alabama, Ohio State against Michigan, and so on. But there are a couple of CFSL rivalries that are being rekindled this season. Auburn opens their season against Notre Dame, a CFSL rivalry that has spanned since the league first began, as the Tigers and Fighting Irish squared off in the CFSL’s very first National Championship game. That’s not even the larger story though. As week eight is reserved for rivalry week, get ready for a lot of orange. Clemson and Texas will square off as the rivalry that began in season three when both teams entered the league is rekindled for what should be part of a thrilling week eight for Season Eight.
4) EARLY MEANINGS
If you’re new to the CFSL, we’re happy to have you, and would like to take this moment to explain that playoffs in the CFSL. Playoff teams are determined by conference record. There are tiebreakers, of course, and there’s a progression to them, with head-to-head being the next heavily weighted and working from there. Why does all of that matter? Because some teams have a good chunk of their conference schedule to open up the season.
Ohio State’s are opening their season with three conference games. USC, Oregon, and Notre Dame. The three playoff teams of the Big Ten from last season. Oregon, Texas, Notre Dame, Florida, and Florida State start their conference schedules in week two, while Alabama and Clemson face each other to start the season which is the kickoff game for week one. We’ve seen it before, that opening up with conference games can be a lot heavier than you think they are by the end of the season. Every game matters in this league, and a week one loss can hurt you a lot more than you might think.
5) Back to the Playoffs
Playoff teams change pretty frequently in this league, three teams from each conference get in, but only a select few have made repeat playoff appearances. Auburn, Alabama, Oregon, and USC. Two teams from each conference have returned to the playoffs in consecutive seasons, but that third team? That has changed nearly every single season, and usually one of the contenders from seasons past falls short. Last season, both Ohio State and Texas missed the playoffs, even though they had been playoff teams in the prior season. What does any of this have to do with the schedule?
No game is ever an “easy win” in this league. Teams have started out strong, but stumble down the stretch and miss the playoffs, like Florida last season. Other teams struggle early but can make a late push, like USC, Notre Dame, and Oregon. Part of that is knowing each game on the schedule and preparing adequately for it so that you can make a strong concerted effort to make the playoffs. It’s highly unlikely anybody will go undefeated, but you can finish with a strong record and win your conference, or just make the playoffs and then make a run at the title game. Of the six playoff teams from last season: Auburn, Alabama, Florida State, USC, Notre Dame, and Oregon, which of them can make it back, and which of them will get replaced by a new playoff contender. Personally, six new playoff contenders would be a lot of fun to see on the gridiron.
We’re now less than two weeks away from the dawn of a new season, and with it, new stars, new contenders, and a new energy surrounding the CFSL. So buckle up, because this season? The Season Eight playoff chase is officially on.