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