Faculty soccer schedule superlatives: Breaking down hardest slates, best paths and extra


Faculty soccer schedules as we have come to know them are about to alter ceaselessly, doubtlessly a number of occasions over the subsequent few years.

Who is aware of what number of conferences we’ll have, what these conferences will seem like and who will play whom after all of the jockeying and realignment ends — if it ever does?

However regardless of the upheaval — as we take a deeper dive into inspecting the 2022 schedules — bear in mind a phrase that may stand the take a look at of time so long as there’s faculty soccer: Ain’t no one performed no one.

We’ll hand out a couple of schedule superlatives for the 2022 season, and do not forget that some superlatives aren’t at all times so “tremendous.” All rankings referenced are from ESPN’s latest Way-Too-Early Top 25. Additionally, it is about this time yearly we convey out Steve Spurrier’s line from his outdated coach Pepper Rodgers coach is “solely nearly as good as his gamers and his schedule.”

For what it is value, the 2 groups that performed for the nationwide championship final 12 months — Alabama and Georgia — mixed to face throughout the 2021 common season simply three Energy 5 groups that managed greater than eight regular-season wins. The Crimson Tide and Bulldogs additionally mixed to supply 22 alternatives within the 2022 NFL draft, together with 11 gamers taken in both the primary or second rounds. The defending nationwide champion Dawgs had a report 15 gamers drafted, probably the most because the draft moved to a seven-round format in 1994.

Now, on to our alternatives:

Hardest total Energy 5 schedule

A handful of faculties could make sturdy circumstances right here, together with Auburn, Georgia Tech, Indiana, LSU, Mississippi State, Stanford and Vanderbilt. However for the second straight 12 months, Arkansas‘ schedule is brutal, with 5 video games in opposition to top-25 groups. The Hogs are one in all 5 Energy 5 groups (Georgia Tech, Oregon, Stanford and Texas Tech the others) which have two nonconference video games in opposition to ranked groups — No. 23 Cincinnati at dwelling to open the season Sept. Three and No. 19 BYU on the street Oct. 15. Within the three weeks main as much as that BYU journey, Arkansas faces No. 5 Texas A&M in Arlington, Texas, No. 1 Alabama at dwelling and Mississippi State on the street. Throw within the journey to Auburn on Oct. 29, and the Hogs have a stretch the place they play 4 of 5 video games away from dwelling.

Best total Energy 5 schedule

It is solely honest that a few first-year coaches draw the best schedules. Mike Elko takes over a Duke program that completed Three-9 a 12 months in the past and inherits a schedule that features simply two top-25 opponents. However the nod right here goes to Virginia, which in Tony Elliott’s first season will face only one preseason top-25 foe, and that is No. 15 Pittsburgh at dwelling Nov. 12. The Cavaliers additionally keep away from the ACC’s two highest-ranked groups within the preseason (Clemson and NC State) and have a comfortable nonconference schedule that options only one street sport (at Illinois). Louisville, Miami and North Carolina all have to come back to Charlottesville.

Most fascinating schedule

BYU‘s remaining schedule as an impartial is highlighted by an Oct. eight journey to Las Vegas to tackle Notre Dame at Allegiant Stadium. The following week, BYU returns dwelling to face Arkansas. We’ll name it the Irish/Hogs swing. A tip of the cap, too, to BYU’s journey division. The Cougars open the season Sept. Three in Tampa in opposition to South Florida. They fly again throughout the nation Oct. 22 once they face Liberty in Lynchburg, Virginia, whereas making journeys to a pair of Pac-12 venues — Autzen Stadium to play Oregon on Sept. 17 (every week after going through future Large 12 companion Baylor at dwelling) and Stanford Stadium to play the Cardinal within the regular-season finale Nov. 26. If that is not sufficient, there’s additionally a Nov. 5 journey to Boise State and its iconic blue turf.

Hardest Energy 5 nonconference schedule

Brutal nonconference schedules are by no means excellent for a coach who’s on the so-called scorching seat, however that is precisely what Georgia Tech‘s Geoff Collins faces in 2022. The Yellow Jackets, coming off three consecutive three-win seasons underneath Collins, get No. 21 Ole Miss at dwelling the third week of the season, then flip round and play at UCF the next week. The “enjoyable” half is the annual regular-season finale in opposition to No. Three Georgia, which occurs to be in Athens this 12 months.

Hardest Group of 5 nonconference schedule

I will say this for Kent State: The Golden Flashes ain’t scared. They play street video games at Washington, Oklahoma and Georgia — all within the month of September. Sean Lewis has carried out an excellent job of turning round Kent State’s program. The Flashes performed within the Mid-American Convention championship sport a 12 months in the past. However, whew, thank goodness for assured payouts. Kent State will pocket $5.2 million to climate that September gauntlet, and good for Lewis that he has language in his contract stipulating that a few of that cash goes on to the soccer price range.

Best Energy 5 nonconference schedule

In a photograph end, Michigan edges out UCLA of their battle of glorified scrimmages to prepare for convention play. Neither staff faces a Energy 5 opponent, and all their nonleague video games are at dwelling. The Wolverines, coming off their first Faculty Soccer Playoff look, aren’t precisely diving proper again into the fray. They open the 2022 season in opposition to Colorado State, Hawaii and UConn. It is the primary time in 78 years that Michigan will not play a nonconference sport in opposition to a present Energy 5 member or Notre Dame. Dishonorable point out goes to Ole Miss, which hundreds up on Troy, Central Arkansas, Tulsa and Georgia Tech earlier than leaping into SEC play.

Hardest open to the season

See the above part on the hardest Energy 5 nonconference schedule, and never a lot of a proof is required. Georgia Tech opens the season on Monday, Sept. 5 in opposition to No. 13 Clemson. Positive, the sport is in Atlanta at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, however that place might be splattered in orange. After a brief week to prepare for Western Carolina at dwelling, the Yellow Jackets transfer on to No. 21 Ole Miss at dwelling and Group of 5 energy UCF on the street to shut out September. They continue to be on the street because the calendar flips to October to face No. 15 Pittsburgh.

Hardest near the season

Who may blame them at Hail State in the event that they’re saying, “What the hell?” From Oct. 1 on, there’s just one breather for Mississippi State, and that is in opposition to an East Tennessee State staff that beat Vanderbilt final season and went deep into the FCS playoffs. The month of October presents dwelling video games in opposition to No. 5 Texas A&M and No. 20 Arkansas and street video games in opposition to No. 22 Kentucky and No. 1 Alabama. After a bye week, it is again dwelling in opposition to Auburn and No. Three Georgia to kick off November. Then it is ETSU at dwelling and a brief five-day week earlier than touring to No. 21 Ole Miss on Thanksgiving evening. Cue the cowbells.

Cushiest open to the season

As soon as once more, it is Michigan and UCLA competing for the grand prize. We’ll go together with the Bruins this time. The Rose Bowl goes to look mighty empty when Bowling Inexperienced, Alabama State and South Alabama come rolling into Pasadena these first three weeks of September. UCLA then opens its convention season on the street in opposition to a Colorado staff being picked close to the underside of the Pac-12. Backside line: If Michigan and UCLA aren’t each Four-Zero to start out the season, there’s going to be some critical splainin’ to do.

Cushiest near the season

Coming into his fifth season at Arizona State, Herm Edwards is trying to construct off an eight-win season a 12 months in the past (6-Three within the Pac-12). The again half of the Solar Devils’ schedule appears to be like greater than manageable, with street video games in opposition to Colorado, Washington State and Arizona and residential video games in opposition to UCLA and Oregon State. The entrance a part of Arizona State’s schedule is loaded, with away video games in opposition to Oklahoma State and USC and a house date with Utah, but it surely’s largely downhill after that.

Hardest street schedule

Bryan Harsin has had smoother offseasons. He resolutely survived as Auburn‘s coach following an inner inquiry by the varsity that left him dangling. Surviving the Tigers’ street schedule might be equally daunting. Auburn is the one SEC West staff that has to go to each No. 1 Alabama and No. Three Georgia. There’s additionally a visit to No. 21 Ole Miss the week after the Georgia sport and a Nov. 5 journey to Mississippi State, which rallied from a 28-Three deficit to win on the Plains final season. The excellent news for the Tigers is that they’ve eight dwelling video games, together with their first 5, at Jordan-Hare Stadium.

Best dwelling schedule

Trying to repeat as nationwide champion, Georgia has the house schedule to take action. The opener in opposition to No. 16 Oregon is not a real dwelling sport, although it is at close by Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta. However after that, just one top-25 staff (No. 24 Tennessee) involves Athens.

Hardest three-game stretch

The standards right here is three video games in three consecutive weeks, however Syracuse has 4 video games in opposition to top-25 foes in 4 consecutive weeks. Holy Dino Babers! The Orange play No. eight NC State at dwelling Oct. 15, then journey to No. 12 Clemson on Oct. 22, return dwelling to face No. 7 Notre Dame on Oct. 29 and hit the street once more to face No. 15 Pittsburgh on Nov. 5. It isn’t like the next two weeks are breathers, both. Syracuse is dwelling in opposition to Florida State on Nov. 12, then on the street in opposition to No. 17 Wake Forest on Nov. 19.

Should-see nonconference video games

The caveat right here is that the video games are on campus, not neutral-site video games. A part of the material of school soccer is a faculty and its fan base touring to a special a part of the nation and taking over one other college in entrance of its fan base … on campus. Sure, faculty soccer is altering, however this is hoping we by no means lose this sacred a part of the game.

• Utah at Florida, Sept. Three
• Notre Dame at Ohio State, Sept. Three
• Alabama at Texas, Sept. 10
• Miami at Texas A&M, Sept. 17
• Michigan State at Washington, Sept. 17
• Penn State at Auburn, Sept. 17
• Clemson at Notre Dame, Nov. 5
• Notre Dame at USC, Nov. 26

Convention chaos

There’s at all times that one weekend in convention play that shakes issues up, offers some readability for the remainder of the season and possibly even produces a couple of surprises.

Week 5 has particular potentialities:

• Alabama at Arkansas
• LSU at Auburn
• Michigan at Iowa
• NC State at Clemson
• Oklahoma State at Baylor
• Texas A&M at Mississippi State
• Washington at UCLA

Going Energy-less

Solely 5 Energy 5 faculties this season will keep away from taking part in a nonconference sport in opposition to one other Energy 5 college, Notre Dame or BYU. Three of the culprits are within the Large Ten — Indiana, Maryland and Michigan — though Indiana will get a move. The Hoosiers play at No. 23 Cincinnati. The Pac-12 makes up the remainder of this doubtful record. Oregon State and UCLA are additionally skipping out on taking part in any Energy 5 foes within the nonconference a part of their schedules.

Deep within the coronary heart of Texas

Texas would not play exterior the state of Texas till an Oct. 22 journey to No. 11 Oklahoma State, however that is simply a part of the story for Steve Sarkisian and the Longhorns. The sport everybody has circled is No. 1 Alabama’s go to on the second week of the season, however the Horns higher stay awake on UTSA the subsequent week. The Roadrunners gained 12 video games and the Convention USA title final season. Then on Sept. 24, Texas hits the street for Texas Tech, and this is betting the oldsters in Lubbock will not be too sort to the SEC-bound Longhorns. And that is to not point out the Purple River Showdown with Oklahoma on Oct. eight on the Cotton Bowl.

Jimbo vs. Saban

No sport in 2022 might be extra anticipated than Texas A&M‘s journey to Alabama on Oct. eight after the fireworks this offseason between Jimbo Fisher and Nick Saban. For Alabama, that sport might be sandwiched between two robust street journeys to Arkansas and Tennessee. For Texas A&M, it can come the week after a street sport in opposition to Mississippi State, and the Aggies may have a bye week following the Alabama sport earlier than touring to South Carolina on Oct. 22.

Large East reunion

West Virginia, which has suffered by means of shedding seasons in two of the previous three years, is the one Large 12 staff that may play two nonconference video games in opposition to Energy 5 opponents in 2022. Not solely that, however each are on the street and each are Thursday evening video games. The Mountaineers go to Pittsburgh within the Yard Brawl on Sept. 1 and go to Virginia Tech on Sept. 22. As soon as upon a time, West Virginia, Pitt and Virginia Tech have been all Large East brethren.

Tar Heels touring a special street

A number of Energy 5 groups will play true street video games in opposition to Group of 5 groups, notably three in-state matchups — Virginia Tech touring to Previous Dominion on Sept. 2, and North Carolina taking part in at Appalachian State and NC State opening its season at East Carolina, each on Sept. Three. The Tar Heels even have two true street video games in opposition to Group of 5 foes. They play at Georgia State on Sept. 10, marking the primary time in historical past Energy 5 program has performed at Georgia State. Shawn Elliott’s Panthers aren’t a staff to take frivolously, both. They’re coming off probably the most profitable season in class historical past (eight wins and a bowl victory) and return most of their key playmakers on offense and protection.

Clemson and the SEC

This one at all times boils the blood of SEC followers. Clemson is 12-Four in opposition to the SEC over the previous seven years, and the Tigers get an opportunity to make it 13-Four once they face in-state rival South Carolina at dwelling Nov. 26. These 4 losses have been to groups that gained the nationwide championship. Of the 12 wins, six are in opposition to South Carolina, however the Tigers have crushed Alabama twice in Faculty Soccer Playoff video games. And over the previous 10 years, Clemson has crushed six totally different SEC groups — Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, LSU, South Carolina and Texas A&M.

Military soccer hits the South

Three of Army‘s 4 true street video games are within the South, starting at Coastal Carolina on Sept. Three, the place the Black Knights hit the Smurf Turf and may even pay a go to to Broadway on the Seashore. From there, it is at Wake Forest on Oct. eight and at Troy on Nov. 12.

Hoops heaven

Kansas‘ dwelling sport in opposition to Duke on Sept. 24 is not doubtless to attract a ton of nationwide curiosity, though the Jayhawks confirmed some life final season with their upset of Texas on the street. But when they actually wished to spice this one up, they could take into consideration holding a basketball scrimmage at halftime.


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