A few weeks ago, StateFansNation had an update on the future non-conference schedules for the Wolfpack after it was announced that Troy had been added. In looking at some websites after getting back from being out of the country, I read a couple of articles that were interesting from a non-conference point of view.
Just a bit of background. Here is who State has played in non-conference since 2009:
2009: South Carolina, Murray State, Gardner Webb, Pittsburgh
2010: Western Carolina, Central Florida, Cincinnati, East Carolina
2011: Liberty, South Alabama, Cincinnati, Central Michigan
2012: Tennessee, Connecticut, South Alabama, Citadel
2013: Louisiana Tech, Richmond, Central Michigan, East Carolina
Obviously, this has not been a murderers row of non-conference opponents. Since the beginning of 2010, the only Power 5 school the Wolfpack has played non-conference is Tennessee, a game that was created in part by the help of ESPN, and also replaced the home and home previously scheduled with the Vols.
As a comparison, this article looks at non-conference performance of the ACC over the past 5 years. Here is the number of games played by ACC teams against non-conference opponents in the regular season since 2009:
No. of Games: Team
10: Clemson Wake Forest
9: Georgia Tech
8: Boston College
7: Florida State Virginia
6: Miami North Carolina
3: NC State Virginia Tech
What’s worse, four of those six games played by NC State and Virginia Tech came in 2009, meaning those two programs have each played just one regular-season, nonconference game against a Power 5 team in the last four years. (Virginia Tech played Alabama last season, while NC State played Tennessee in 2012.)
What makes that graphic and quote even worse is that the Hokies’ game with Alabama was created by ESPN and also was played in Atlanta as part of the Chick-Fila Kickoff Classic. So, the only Power 5 non-conference games the Hokies and Wolfpack have played since 2010 is a neutral site game created by ESPN.
***A footnote. Games against Cincinnati and Connecticut, who were in the Big East and part of the BCS, were deemed to be a quality non-conference game at the time when they were played.
And now there is a new rule requiring teams playing a Power 5 conference (ACC, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-12, SEC) as a non-conference opponent starting in 2015. With Oklahoma State and LSU buying out of a home and home series with the Wolfpack, the future non-conference Power 5 teams set up are as follows:
2016: Notre Dame Fighting Irish
2017: at Notre Dame Fighting Irish
The Pack needs to add someone in 2015, 2018, and 2019. Here is their analysis:
Of all the ACC teams that will be looking for Power 5 scheduling partners, N.C. State has the most work left to do. This year N.C. State faces Georgia Southern, Presbyterian, Old Dominion and USF. The following year … Troy, Old Dominion and South Alabama. Five of those seven opponents are or were very recently members of the Football Championship Subdivision. Don’t strain yourselves too hard, Wolfpack.
With how watered down the ‘Pack’s non-conference schedules have been of late, it will be interesting to see what State does with this new strength of schedule component. Do they go searching for bottom-of-the-barrel Power 5 programs to play in an attempt to schedule their way to a bowl game? Or will they capitalize on their close proximity to SEC programs and break a sweat during non-conference play?
Possible non-conference opponents: Mississippi St. Bulldogs, Ole Miss Rebels, Tennessee Volunteers, Vanderbilt Commodores
For 2015, another article came out a couple of days ago showing that Alabama is in dire need of an opponent for 2015.
NC State stands alone here. It has three home games in the non-conference lined up. If it truly has a schedule spot open, it could play at Alabama and hit that magic seven-home-games threshold. If the Tide’s last 2015 opponent is on this list, it’s most likely to be NCSU.
Let’s be honest. I know that Debbie Yow is working on the non-conference schedule with lots of input from Dave Doeren. I understand she has been trying to get out of a couple bad contracts made by the previous administration (and the small buyout from LSU is another bad Fowler decision – Thanks a lot as I was looking forward going to Baton Rouge). Yow has mentioned that she wants to beef up the schedule but also wants to maintain a good financial perspective and also consider the expected strength of the team. I completely understand that. But a home and home with Alabama in 2015 and 2018, even assuming the Wolfpack will be underdogs, would be a fantastic step up compared to previous years schedules.
I am not sure what happens in the future, but I can foresee a few options for a Power 5 non-conference opponent:
1. ACC – Duke – This just makes too much financial sense not to happen in the near future. Doeren is for it and I have heard Cutcliffe say on the radio that he wishes he could play State more.
NC State and Duke are located about 35 miles apart. They played annually from 1924 to 2003 but have met only three times since the ACC expanded in 2004. The Wolfpack and Blue Devils are scheduled to play only once (in 2020) in the next 11 years.
— 2nd choice: Virginia
2. Big 10 – Michigan State – No school reminds me as much of NC State as the Spartans do. Their arch rival likes to say another school is their arch rival. They are a land grant, agricultural, engineering school. They are often under the radar (no one thought much of them last year till they beat down Ohio State to win the Big 10 and few thought they would beat Stanford in the Rose Bowl).
— 2nd choice: Penn State
3. Big 12 – Kansas State – They typically are better than most people think. A victory would definitely be a good shot in the arm for the program. One question mark regarding the Wildcats…what happens when Synder retires again?
— 2nd choice: Oklahoma State
4. Pac-12 – Oregon State – Nice Pacific Northwest match-up. The Beavers have been improving over the past few years and Coach Riley is a good coach. Their offense has been pretty good lately.
— 2nd choice: Washington
5. SEC – South Carolina – Although I have issues with the fan base as well as the coach, it is a good regional rivalry that should continue.
— 2nd choice: Tennessee