Brian: After proposing the optimal 2012 Boston College football schedule, a reader emailed suggesting that we tackle the question as to whether the 2012 Boston College football schedule will be the toughest in school history?
Some of the highlights of the 2012 schedule:
-- Games against nine teams that were bowl-eligible this season, with Miami holding itself out of a bowl game
-- Four ACC road games, all against bowl teams with a combined record of 31-21
-- Four ACC home games, two against the defending ACC and Coastal Division champs, 6-6 Miami and 2-10 Maryland
-- Four non-conference games, three at home, against Notre Dame (8-5), Army (3-9), Maine and at Northwestern (6-7)
The reader suggested that perhaps the 1991 or 1995 schedules may have been a bit tougher. Let's take a closer look.
In 1991, the Eagles faced five ranked opponents including then #1 Miami, #2 Michigan, #10 Penn State, #17 Georgia Tech and #17 Syracuse.
In 1995, the Eagles again faced five ranked opponents in #11 Michigan, #12 Ohio State, #12 Notre Dame, #20 Virginia Tech and #22 Syracuse.
I suppose you could throw in the 1993 and 1994 seasons, too.
In 1993, BC again faced five ranked programs -- #1 Notre Dame, #5 Miami, #5 West Virginia, #13 Syracuse and #25 Virginia Tech -- as well as a year later in 1994 -- #5 Michigan, #5 Miami, #8 Notre Dame, #14 Syracuse and #18 Virginia Tech.
(Remember when Syracuse football used to ranked annually?)
BC hasn't played more than four ranked opponents in a season since the 1995 season, though in 2002 the Eagles did face three top 5 teams in #1 Miami, #4 Virginia Tech and #4 Notre Dame (LOL @ Notre Dame).
So what do you think? Early impressions on the 2012 schedule? Do you think the 2012 slate is shaping up to be one of the toughest in school history? The toughest? Or will the 2012 sched ultimately pale in comparison to some of those brutal schedules of the mid-1990s? Your thoughts?
Jeff: In the 90s we played Michigan, Miami and Notre Dame all in the same season. Miami and Michigan both won AP National Championships in the 90s and Notre Dame accomplished the same feat in '88. That would be like playing Alabama, Auburn and Texas next season. Sure, Texas and Auburn are not going to be as good as the years they won it all, but we're also now in an era where college football has more parity than it did 15-20 years ago. So no, this coming season will not be the hardest schedule the Eagles have ever faced.
Since Notre Dame has been a fairly annual game, and we always have to play Virginia Tech from the Coastal Division, I don't see next year's schedule being significantly more difficult, if at all, that our average season since we joined the ACC. Florida State is ranked higher than some seasons, but Virginia Tech and Clemson are lower in preseason rankings than they often find themselves.
After that, whether or not we'll play another team that has much of a shot at being ranked is anyone's guess. Getting Georgia Tech and Miami is a tougher draw than Duke and Virginia almost every year, but it is much more likely than not that neither of those teams will have more than eight wins next season which means they will not finish the season ranked. Playing Northwestern, meanwhile, is not much different than the home-and-home series we've had with Penn State, Stanford, and BYU in somewhat recent memory.
If Virginia Tech and Clemson had won their BCS games, I think the most difficult schedule thought would have been very valid. Instead, as it turned out, I think you need to pull a lot of obscure stats to back up that argument.