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Boston College Football: Constructing The 2015 Non-Conference Schedule

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What's going on here? This is a mess.

Crystal LoGiudice-USA TODAY Spor

With yesterday's news that Elon has pulled a Boston College-for-Wake Forest swap, it's looking more and more like BC might have to scramble to finalize the 2015 non-conference schedule. The Eagles know they'll take on the Fighting Irish at Fenway Park on November 21, 2015. BC also has a non-conference game scheduled with Army -- the fourth and final in a four-game series scheduled for 2012-15 -- though the date has yet to be set.

Beyond that, things get cloudy. Both Buffalo and New Mexico State have four non-conference dates set for 2015, making it unlikely that the Eagles are on next season's slate. Assuming neither the Buffalo nor New Mexico State games are happening, that leaves two spots to fill on the Eagles' 2015 sched.

Let's take a look at which programs still have openings. Assume that one of the two spots will be left for an FCS replacement team (for Elon). The other against an FBS opponent. BC's FCS opponents nearly always come from the Colonial Athletic Association, and it sounds as if the ACC and the CAA, Elon's new conference, worked together to ensure that Boston College has a replacement team lined up.

The following CAA teams have existing non-conference scheduling obligations for 2015: New Hampshire (at San Jose State), Villanova (at Connecticut), Richmond (at Maryland), Albany (at Buffalo), Elon (at Wake Forest), Stony Brook (at Toledo) and William & Mary (at Virginia). That leaves the following CAA programs with openings:

Delaware
Towson
Rhode Island
James Madison
Maine

Of those five opponents, the Eagles have only ever faced two of them -- Rhode Island (5-2-0) and Maine (4-3-0) -- though meetings in the modern era are few and far between. This year's Maine game will be just the third since 1967. BC and Rhode Island have only squared off once -- in 2008 -- since 1917.

As for possible FBS replacements for Buffalo/New Mexico State, the pickings are slim. Out of the five other power conferences, 10 teams have openings. In the Big Ten, only Penn State has an opening, though the Nittany Lions have yet to schedule an FCS opponent (though, while not a requirement, PSU also has yet to schedule a Power 5 conference opponent in 2015).

Out west, both Arizona and Stanford have openings, though neither has scheduled an FCS opponent as of yet. Colorado, which already has four non-conference games scheduled that year, could schedule a 13th game via the Hawaii exemption, though typically programs only use this to schedule an extra home game (to offset the cost of traveling to Hawaii).

Down south in the SEC, Kentucky only has a game against Louisville scheduled in 2015, leaving three openings (though one will likely be filled by an FCS opponent). Alabama -- DUDEGUY! -- has two openings but no FCS opponent. Missouri has two openings as well, but has already used one of those slots on an FCS opponent. Arkansas, Mississippi State and Tennessee have one opening but no FCS opponent; likely eliminating all three.

All 10 Big 12 members already have three non-conference schedule obligations, so they are out.

BC's already scheduled two of the three remaining Division I-A independents -- Army and Notre Dame. The third, BYU, has a full 12-game schedule in 2015.

Out of the ranks of the non-power conferences, the pickings are similarly slim. After presumably scheduling a FCS opponent, both Central Florida and Tulane still have an available slot in 2015. So do Connecticut (no) and South Florida. East Carolina, Tulsa and SMU have one opening, but no FCS game.

Same story for both the MAC and Conference USA, where nine programs have openings but no FCS games scheduled: Bowling Green, Central Michigan, Florida International, Louisiana Tech, Middle Tennessee, North Texas, Rice, Southern Miss and Western Michigan. And in the Sun Belt, three programs have two openings -- Louisiana-Lafayette, Louisiana-Monroe and Texas State.

Several Mountain West teams, including Hawaii, could schedule a 13th game with the NCAA's Hawaii Exemption -- Air Force, Fresno State, Hawaii, San Diego State and San Jose State. New Mexico also has an opening, but has yet to schedule an FCS school.

Finally, the dreaded non-conference conference game. BC already plays every other school in the Atlantic Division as well as Virginia Tech and Duke from the Coastal in 2015. North Carolina has two openings at the moment, but no FCS game. Georgia Tech, Miami and Pittsburgh have one opening; no FCS opponents. This is your last ditch, pending world apocalypse option.

Basically, it's not a very pleasant picture. Barring another school moving around an existing scheduling obligation or two, BC would be lucky to come out of this with two more home games -- one against an FCS school and one a non-power conference program. The priority should be avoiding scheduling two FCS opponents in the same year, as well as avoiding the nuclear non-conference ACC opponent option. If Bates can extend the "8 in Massachusetts" theme for a second straight season, even better.

Gut says at Penn State and Rhode Island completes the 2015 non-conference schedule. It was looking like URI was gonna drop down to the 40-scholarship NEC for a while, where a win over the Rams wouldn't count towards bowl eligibility. But the program did an about-face and was welcomed back to the CAA. URI faces Marshall this season and UMass in 2016, so after a few year hiatus, the Rams are back on various FBS schedules.

A game at Penn State makes sense for both programs; that is, if PSU is willing to schedule a Power 5 opponent smack in the middle of sanctions. Penn State's 2014 non-conference slate of UCF (Dublin), Akron, UMass and Temple is underwhelming by design.