College Football’s 9 Toughest Schedules For 2018

The College Football Playoff committee has made it quite clear that the quality of team's schedules matters a great deal. Because teams typically schedule games so far in advance, it can be a bit tricky to match up against other top teams out of conference play. However, several teams have managed to make it work, both in conference and out of conference for 2018. But which schools have the toughest schedules this year? 

Below are the nine teams with the most difficult schedules. Both in-conference and out-of-conference games were considered, with road games giving a team a boost in the rankings.

9) Rutgers Scarlet Knights

Notable Games:
at Ohio State (Sept. 8)
at Wisconsin (Nov. 3)
vs. Michigan (Nov. 10)
vs. Penn State (Nov. 17)
at Michigan State (Nov. 24)

The good news for Rutgers is that three of their first four games are very winnable (Texas State, Kansas, Buffalo). The bad news is that other game is their conference opener at Ohio State and their final month of the season will all be against teams ranked in the preseason top 20.

8) Northwestern Wildcats

Notable Games:
at Purdue (Aug. 30)
vs. Michigan (Sept. 29)
at Michigan State (Oct. 6)
vs. Wisconsin (Oct. 27)
vs. Notre Dame (Nov. 3)

The Wildcats certainly have a tough schedule, but luckily for them, they get three of their four games against preseason top 20 opponents at home. However, their Thursday night season opener at Purdue will be a crucial game in the Big Ten West.

7) Pitt Panthers

Notable Games:
vs. Penn State (Sept. 8)
at UCF (Sept. 29)
at Notre Dame (Oct. 13)
vs. Virginia Tech (Nov. 10)
at Miami (Nov. 24)

Pitt has the toughest schedule in the ACC despite not having to face either Clemson or Florida State. Why? An incredibly tough non-conference slate against Penn State, UCF, and Notre Dame accompanied by tests against Virginia Tech and Miami.

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6) Maryland Terrapins

Notable Games:
vs. Texas (Sept. 1)
at Michigan (Oct. 6)
at Iowa (Oct. 20)
vs. Michigan State (Nov. 3)
vs. Ohio State (Nov. 17)
at Penn State (Nov. 24)

Maryland will open their season at home against Texas after upsetting the Longhorns in Austin before starting their grueling Big Ten slate, which includes a crossover road trip to Iowa.

5) Nebraska Cornhuskers

Notable Games:
at Michigan (Sept. 22)
at Wisconsin (Oct. 6)
at Ohio State (Nov. 3)
vs. Michigan State (Nov. 17)
at Iowa (Nov. 24)

New head coach Scott Frost's first season in Lincoln will be anything but a cakewalk. Four of their five most notable games come on the road and have more conference games on the road (five) than they do at home (four).

4) LSU Tigers

Notable Games:
vs. Miami (Sept. 2)
at Auburn (Sept. 15)
at Florida (Oct. 6)
vs. Georgia (Oct. 13)
vs. Alabama (Nov. 3)
at Texas A&M (Nov. 24)

LSU starts their season against a preseason top 10 team in Miami, starts conference play against a preseason top 10 Auburn team, and also face both teams (Alabama, Georgia) from last year's title game - along with road tests against Florida and Texas A&M just for good measure. However, they don't have the toughest schedule in the SEC.

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3) Texas A&M Aggies

Notable Games:
vs. Clemson (Sept. 8)
at Alabama (Sept. 22)
at South Carolina (Oct. 13)
at Mississippi State (Oct. 27)
at Auburn (Nov. 3)
vs. LSU (Nov. 24)

That would belong to Texas A&M, who face an absolute gauntlet in new head coach Jimbo Fisher's first year. A game against Clemson highlights the Aggies' non-conference schedule, and then in conference, they have four road games against teams projected to be in the preseason top 25 rankings.

2) Notre Dame Fighting Irish

Notable Games:
vs. Michigan (Sept. 1)
vs. Stanford (Sept. 29)
at Virginia Tech (Oct. 6)
vs. Florida State (Nov. 10)
at USC (Nov. 24)

It's not a schedule stacked with Top 10 teams, but it's another year full of quality opponents for the Fighting Irish. They'll open the season against Michigan in a crucial game for both teams and face two of the ACC's best teams along with their traditional rivals of Stanford and USC. 

1) Michigan Wolverines

Notable Games:
at Notre Dame (Sept. 1)
vs. Wisconsin (Oct. 13)
at Michigan State (Oct. 20)
vs. Penn State (Nov. 3)
at Ohio State (Nov. 24)

Along with opening the season at Notre Dame, Michigan will face all four of the Big Ten's preseason top 10 teams. In what could be a make-or-break year for Jim Harbaugh, the Wolverines clearly have the toughest schedule in the country.

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Related Topics: College Football Playoff, 2019 College Football Playoff, NCAA Football