There is a disparity in the number of conference games played among the Power Five football conferences and the conversation among those in the media is intensifying with many pushing for all five leagues to play nine conference games. Currently the Big 12, Big 10 and Pac 12 play nine conference games. The SEC and ACC play eight. In the four seasons of the College Football Playoff era it is clear that the ACC and SEC have an edge in getting to the playoff due to playing one less conference game.
Media types typically suggest that all Power Five conferences play the same number of games. There is some divide as to the exact number, most say nine, but some suggest eight is enough. Either way it would seem to make sense to have the conferences on the same page. Another point most agree on is that until the NCAA and selection committee force the ACC and SEC to play an additional conference game, they don’t blame those two leagues for standing pat.
The conversation doesn’t stop with the number of conference games played. Power Five schools can opt to schedule their out of conference games pretty much how they want. That means a SEC or ACC school could schedule three group of five schools and one FCS school thus having a schedule with no out of conference Power Five teams on it. Most schools schedule at least one out of conference opponent, but not many schedule more than that.
West Virginia University has scheduled two Power Five non conference opponents for 2018 making the Mountaineers just one of 11 Power Five Schools to 11 Power Five games on their schedule this season. For perspective, there are currently 65 Power Five college football programs. This year the Big 12 ranks the highest among Power Five conferences playing slightly over 34% of its non-conference games against Power Five opponents. The SEC plays the fewest, somewhere south of 25%.
West Virginia’s two non-conference Power Five foes this season are Tennessee and NC State. WVU opens the season in Charlotte for a neutral site game with Tennessee and returns to North Carolina two weeks later to play the Wolfpack. In between is the home opener against Top 25 FCS Youngstown State team.
West Virginia head coach Dana Holgorsen isn’t bashful about pointing out the scheduling disparities of competing schools.
“I wish everybody would do that. It’s not quite fair that we have to play that schedule and then you have schools in other respective conferences that play nine,” he said. “It’s uneven, but we’re going to keep doing it.
“It’s good for the fan base, good for TV. It’s good for everything.”
Keep in mind that much of the above doesn’t take into account that not all Power Five teams are created equal. Two games against say Vanderbilt and Rutgers isn’t the same animal as a pair of contests against Clemson and USC. Still, there is enough data out there to show scheduling trends.