Williams Blog: Football schedule won't get much easier
By Chris Williams, CycloneFanatic.com PublisherFollow Chris on Twitter @ChrisMWilliams
It's become an annual tradition at Iowa State.
When summertime nears, so does talk of a daunting football schedule looming in the fall. The chatter has already begun for 2012. Over the weekend, CBSSports.com college football guru Bruce Feldman ranked Iowa State's upcoming schedule as the eighth toughest in America for the upcoming season.
As my friend and long time sportswriter for the Des Moines Register Randy Peterson recently pointed out to me on Twitter that should seem like a break to Cyclone fans who are used to seeing their team play the first, second or third most difficult slate in the land.
The Iowa game is always going to be there. But in recent years, a combination of aggressive scheduling and bad luck (nobody knew that UConn would be coming off of a BCS game when that 2011 non-conference game was scheduled) have led the Cyclones to play more difficult non-conference schedules than most in the Big 12 (according to Feldman, only Kansas has a harder schedule than Iowa State in 2012).
The thing is, as long as the Big 12 is playing nine conference games per season (which I believe will be the case even if the league chooses to expand) I don't see it getting a lot easier from here on out. Here's a look at Iowa State's non-conference schedules for the years 2012-2017.
Tulsa @ Iowa Western Illinois
2013Northern Iowa Iowa @ Tulsa
North Dakota State @ Iowa Toledo
2015Northern Iowa Iowa @ Toledo
2016Northern Iowa @ Iowa San Jose St.
2017Northern Iowa Iowa @ San Jose St.
Northern Iowa might be an FCS team, but anybody with a brain knows that Iowa State defeating the Panthers is rarely a sure thing. Home and homes with hungry non-BCS schools like Tulsa and Toledo is never a picnic. As for San Jose State goes, the Spartans certainly aren't a college football power but traveling two time-zones to the west will make any coach uneasy.
As more preseason magazines and predictions surface over the next few weeks, expect to see Iowa State's schedule ranked as one of the toughest for 2012. Barring an unexpected drop in power by the Big 12, expect this to be the case for years to come as well.