Ohio State opens its fall practice schedule today under some very unusual circumstances.
The school has closed that practice session to the media and canceled the scheduled interviews to follow, but you deserve some football content, and football content you shall have.
Last year, we previewed both the 10 best and 10 worst games. However, we just finished a countdown of the 100 best games (among other things), so you can find all the good stuff there. Here are the top 10, if you’re interested: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, and 1.
That means we can just skip straight to the stupidity, which is how I always prefer to operate.
There is a good, solid seven months of the year when any of these games would seem like an oasis in the desert.
Let’s be honest: The most horrendous mismatch or Incompetence Bowl that your imagination can muster would still be more compelling viewing than any spring game. But that doesn’t make them good.
We’ll go chronologically through the season so that you know exactly which games to avoid each week.
September 8: Portland State at Oregon
This is something of a whole-season selection for the Ducks, who play one of the most ludicrous parade of cakewalks in recent memory.
They open with Bowling Green (2-10 last year), then host FCS Portland State (0-11), and San Jose State (2-11).
If you’re not a mathy-type, that’s three teams with a combined record of 4-32.
The game against the Vikings is the most embarrassing. Their winless year in the Big Sky Conference was even less impressive than it looked on the surface. They gave up 59 to both Idaho State and Eastern Washington, and 63 to Weber State.
A disclaimer: Oregon originally had Texas A&M scheduled this year, but the Aggies backed out of the series after switching to the SEC. So dial your scorn for the Ducks back just a little, but remember that only excuses one of these games, not all three.
September 8: Indiana State at Louisville
Bad news, friends: Larry Bird isn’t walking through that door.
The Sycamores went 0-11 in 2017, losing games 52-0, 56-6, 45-0, and 41-3 against FCS opponents. They are 1-17 in their last 18 games.
Sure, why not invite them down to Louisville for a good teeth-kickin’?
The Cardinals will undoubtedly be looking to get well after their opening-weekend game against Alabama. Indiana State will be happy to oblige.
September 8: North Dakota at Washington
This is similar enough to the previous entry that you could almost list them together.
Much like Louisville, the Huskies will come into Week 2 after a neutral-site showdown with an SEC power. In this case, Washington faces Auburn.
Win or lose, they’ll be just fine the following Saturday.
If you’re wondering if this is the North Dakota school that has repeatedly kicked FBS teams in the butt, it isn’t. That’s North Dakota State.
Regular ol’ North Dakota is much less intimidating. They went 3-8 in 2017.
The Fighting Hawks (nee Sioux) played their last four games in front of crowds smaller than 10,000 last year. A trip to Husky Stadium should be interesting.
September 15: Rutgers at Kansas
You can sum this game up with just one word: Why? For what possible reason would Rutgers decide to get on a plane and fly halfway across the country to play in front of 23,000 mostly-disinterested people?
This feels like one of those questions that would make a religious leader shrug and answer, “God works in mysterious ways.”
There is one redeeming aspect to it: After this game, one of these teams is going to have a Power 5 non-conference win. That’s something that Oregon won’t be able to say at any point this year.
September 15: Hawaii at Army
This isn’t necessarily a bad game on paper, but it’s a brutal one because of the kickoff time.
It’s set to start at noon eastern, which works out to 6:00 am in Hawaii. Think the Rainbow Warriors might look a little sluggish in the first quarter?
Hawaii plays a home game the previous Saturday that doesn’t start until 6:00 pm Hawaiian time (midnight Eastern). That means they’ll basically lose half a day of rest and prep between games, too. And then they have to fly almost 10 hours to New York at some point.
September 15: Kent State at Penn State
The Big Ten forced members to stop scheduling FCS teams, but this might actually be worse than a game against Youngstown State.
The Golden Flashes were a totally uncompetitive 2-10 a year ago, losing games by scores like 48-3 to Ohio, 56-3 at Clemson, and 42-3 at Louisville.
This year, they have a new head coach who will likely start installing a very different type of offense than they ran a year ago. That means a not-very-talented team is going to have an ugly transition year. And they’re going to play their third game on the road in Happy Valley. Should work out great.
September 29: Houston Baptist at SMU
This is the first year for new head coach Sonny Dykes at SMU, and the good news is he’s guaranteed to win at least one game in his first month.
Houston Baptist isn’t just an FCS team, they’re a bad FCS team.
The football program only started in 2013, and has never had a winning season. They went 1-10 last year.
Their basketball program is just as bad, going 6-25 last season. Although that’s a little more defensible, since it makes sense for Baptists to get dunked on.
October 6: Liberty at New Mexico State, November 24: New Mexico State at Liberty
This is like getting not one, but two sets of pink bunny pajamas from your aunt on Christmas morning. One is bad enough, why on earth would you want two?
Yes, these teams really are playing a home-and-home this year as they both go through a year of transition.
Liberty is moving up to FBS this year, and is playing as an independent. That means they have to grab games anywhere they can find them.
New Mexico State and Idaho got the heave-ho from the Sun Belt after last season. The Vandals opted to move down to FCS, but the Aggies are playing as an FBS Independent. They, too are playing a grab-bag of opponents once conference play starts for everyone else.
Both teams were one game short of a full schedule, so voila! Necessity is the mother of bad home-and-homes.
November 3: Rice at UTEP
There are 130 teams in FBS this fall. These two ranked 128th and 130th in the early preseason S&P+ rankings. That’s… not ideal.
UTEP went 0-12 in 2017, only breaking 20 points scored twice. In both of those games, they scored exactly 21.
Rice went 1-11 last year, and their only win was over UTEP.
At some point during the week before this game, someone is going to call it the Toilet Bowl.
That’s not really fair, though. Toilets serve a crucial function in today’s modern society, and shouldn’t be disrespected.
November 17: The Citadel at Alabama, Liberty at Auburn, Idaho at Florida, UMass at Georgia, Rice at LSU, Chattanooga at South Carolina
The annual SEC/SoCon Challenge weekend is back and worse than ever this year.
Alabama, which should really schedule someone ambitious since they apparently have an auto-bid into the College Football Playoff, is instead playing a team that went 5-6 in FCS last year.
Auburn is facing a team that was 6-5 in FCS last year and is transitioning to FBS this fall.
Florida plays a team that was so bad in the Sun Belt that they got booted out of the league and are dropping to FCS.
Georgia faces a team that has never won more than four games as an FBS member.
All of this while the rest of the country is deep in conference play.
It’s a ludicrous attempt to game the end-of-season rankings, and it deserves every bit of scorn heaped upon it over the years.