Analysis shows Wolverines with one of toughest schedules
By STEVE MEGARGEE
AP Sports Writer
South Carolina has the type of brutal schedule that could help the Gamecocks be a better team that winds up with a worse record than last year.
The Gamecocks host both of the participants in last year’s College Football Playoff championship game: Clemson and Alabama. They also travel to Georgia, the runner-up in the national championship game two years ago.
South Carolina’s schedule shapes up as arguably the nation’s toughest.
“I’m not worried about the schedule,” South Carolina coach Will Muschamp said. “I’m worried about the Gamecocks. That’s all.”
South Carolina faces six teams that were ranked 16th or better in the final Associated Press Top 25 last season. That doesn’t even include Appalachian State, which has gone 41-11 over the last four seasons.
Other teams have particularly tough schedules, too:
The Tigers face four of the top eight teams in last year’s season-ending Top 25. The Tigers also travel to Texas A&M and open with a neutral-site game against Oregon.
These Tigers travel to Sugar Bowl champion Texas to go along with a brutal SEC schedule that features a trip to Alabama and home games with Florida and Texas A&M.
The strength of the Wolverines’ schedule is its balance. Michigan doesn’t face an FCS team. Their two Group of Five opponents (Middle Tennessee and Army) reached bowl games last season. Army ended 19th.
There’s not a single breather on the Trojans’ schedule. USC’s three nonconference opponents (Fresno State, BYU and Notre Dame) went a combined 31-9 last season.
Stanford’s three nonconference opponents (Northwestern, UCF and Notre Dame) went a combined 33-7 last season. Stanford faces four teams that finished last season ranked 13th or higher.
The Aggies face four of the top eight teams from the season-ending AP poll. The Aggies play three of those games on the road.