Wisconsin's Non-Conference Schedule: Named 2nd Easiest

Submitted by SkyPanther on June 16th, 2018 at 9:06 PM

Since being hired at Michigan, there have been many complaints aimed at Jim Harbaugh about Michigan's strength of schedule. Some have taken shots at Coach Harbaugh about games like Hawaii, Oregon St (Ohio St opens their 2018 season with Oregon St, are any complaints out there in the sports world like those aimed at Jim Harbaugh?), UNLV, Hawaii, UCF (of 2 seasons ago), Cincinnati, and Air Force. But as most of us know, these teams were not scheduled by Jim Harbuagh. These schedules were in place when he arrived.

However, this years schedule IS the brainchild of Jim Harbaugh. And is it easy? Can the complaints of the past 3 seasons be justified? No, it is not easy. And no, the complaints can't be justified. Why? Because Michigan's schedule for 2018 was named the 3rd toughest in the Nation.

LINK: http://www.mlive.com/wolverines/index.ssf/2018/05/phil_steele_michigan_has_third.html


So this brings me to Wisconsin's 2018 non-conference schedule. It's been named the '2nd Easiest' by ESPN.

LINK:  http://www.espn.com/college-football/story/_/id/23784995/oregon-ducks-wisconsin-badgers-teams-easiest-nonconference

It's nothing new that Wisconsin has a soft-ish schedule. We've seen that before. The bulk of their toughest games are against in-conference, BIG 10 East schools. In fact, all four of their losses in the past 2 seasons were against BIG 10 East schools; to Ohio St twice, to Michigan once, and to Penn St once. Wisconsin's soft-ish schedules have been a mark against them when talk of which team is the best in the Nation comes up, even last year, when they were 11-1. So soft-ish schedules aren't good? Seems like it, until you consider Alabama. But I'll talk on that in a moment.

Oh, and speaking of easy non-conference scheduling, Ohio St has finished its 2020 and 2021 non-conference schedules. They added Buffalo to their 2020 schedule. They already had Bowling Green on the non-conference schedule that year. And they added Akron to their 2021 schedule. They already had Tulsa on their non-conference that year. I don't think those schedules for Ohio St will put them near 3rd-toughest-schedule territory.

So the question has to be asked: Does Jim Harbaugh really have to make tough schedules?  Does he have to head toward a more difficult non-conference schedule, while teams like Ohio St and Wisconsin head toward an easier non-conference schedule? Is it good for Jim Harbaugh to do this, or bad, or, neither good nor bad?

Seeing that the National Champs, Alabama, have the 54th toughest schedule this year, maybe Michigan should head toward a less demanding schedule, which gives them a better shot at 11 to 12 wins, like Alabama does? On the other hand, given their strength of schedule this year, if Michigan gets 11 wins, could it be argued they don't belong in the CFP Final 4?


Link to Alabama 54th ranking: http://plus.philsteele.com/Blogs/Blog_PDFs_Images/2018/DBMay02/2018_Spring_Guide.pdf


big house bleacher report.jpg

image from Bleacher Report





June 16th, 2018 at 9:35 PM ^

IMO, if you are good enough to win in the CFP, you don't need to be concerned about OOC games like ND. 

If the goal is to just get to the CFP, then sure, schedule some easier teams. But the proof will come out eventually. 

You're either good enough to win it all at which point your OOC difficulty doesn't matter, or you're not and the extra 1-2 wins is just superficial. 

Blue from Ohio

June 16th, 2018 at 10:35 PM ^

I think alot has to do with name recognition too. Alabama can schedule whoever the hell they want and have it be as easy as possible, because come Selection day, they've won national titles and the committee realizes that for the CFP.  As much as I hate to say it, the same holds true for Ohio State.  In terms of national title, we haven't been relevant in a long time, so pounding Hawaii won't help you.  As hard as it is, I like the schedule this year, because if we're as good as we're all hoping we will be, then that 3rd toughest schedule in the country will come in very handy should we have a loss or two come the selection process.


June 17th, 2018 at 12:55 AM ^

I'd say the goal is to get the cfp with a team that can win the cfp. You play against top 15 opponents in your non-conference you run a higher risk of having major contributors with season ending injuries by the conference championship than you do if you take the easy path. 


The kinds of injuries that pile up in football are cumulative, the season is a slog, an endurance test, or so I've been told (never played a game in my life). My guess is someone on the team will get something nagging at him after the ND game that will turn into something more major by season's end. My guess is also that the likelihood of that happening would be less if we played against Kansas.


I want to see Michigan beat the best, and also, to hell with noter Dame, so I'm glad we are playing them. But if the goal is to win the cfp, I think Alabama has shown that the best way to do it is to have a cupcake schedule.

Goggles Paisano

June 17th, 2018 at 7:41 AM ^

Is it now the 2nd easiest since BYU seems to have taken a shit?  I would think that was an admirable game to schedule back when it was scheduled.  

The thing that pisses me off about the OOC scheduling is the SEC bullshit where they schedule The Citadel, Wofford, Furman and teams like that late in November.  


June 17th, 2018 at 10:11 AM ^

Michigan's non conf schedule is tough because we wanted to play Notre Dame, and two mid majors wound up either on the comedown from a historic high (WMU) or on their way up (SMU). Is anyone second guessing that?

M also caught a tough West draw this year with Wisconsin, at Northernwestern and Nebraska, though we luckily got Nebraska at a historic low.

The one valid schedule complaint is the conference purposely screwed Michigan by moving MSU to the same home-road schedule as OSU. That was done for pique, specifically because they thought Dave Brandon was such a dick. That is proving really hard to undo; Indiana got M, MSU, and OSU on the same home-road schedule as a consequence so they're on our side, but we failed in the last round to get this fixed.


June 17th, 2018 at 12:28 PM ^

I used to think playing a tougher schedule was the right thing to do.

But after seeing Ohio St schedule the non-conference teams they schedule, and getting to 1 National Championship, and always be in, or a contender for, the CFP Final 4, and after seeing Alabama schedule teams like Arkansas St, U of Louisiana Lafayette, The Citadel, Mercer, W Kentucky, Kent St, Chattanooga, Middle Tenn, U of Louisiana Monroe, Charleston Southern, Southern Miss, W Carolina, North Texas, and Ga Southern, and get 5 National Championships in the past 11 years, I have changed my mind. Most college football fans would have never heard of these teams if not for Alabama playing them. I say Michigan should schedule these teams too. Until a rule comes along that the Power 5 can't play these pushover games anymore, Michigan shouldn't impair themselves by not following suit with Nick Saban.

What I think is worst (or best depending on how you look at it) about it is that Alabama always schedules one of these games the week before they play their worst rival, Auburn. Wouldn't it be nice to play all the backups for nearly 3 qtrs while running away The Citadel like 70-0, and rest the starters for Ohio St?



June 17th, 2018 at 4:40 PM ^

Yep. It’s called chickenshit Saturday. 

Last year showed the importance of over-scheduling is over-exaggerated. 

If you guys go 12-1 and win the B1G, then you are in. 11-2 fughedaboutit, regardless of the schedule. 11-1 with only loss to 12-1 or 13-0 B1G champ Ohio State, you should be in but our teams play in the B1G not the $EC so probably not. 

Bama’s best win last year before the CFP was over powerhouse Fresno State. 


June 18th, 2018 at 12:37 AM ^

What do you expect teams to schedule in non-conference play?  OSU usually has one solid to really good non-conference game every year.  They've done home and homes with USC, Texas, Oklahoma, VaTech, Miami (FL) and they've got a neutral field game against TCU this year.

Of course they're going to schedule a couple of Ws in the other two non-conference games.