Sunday, May 25, 2014

Sun Devils' future non-conference opponents

Originally Published 12/4/2009
Last Updated 5/25/2014 with the announcement of the Michigan State series.

This post starts with a strong caveat: much of this information will probably change in the years ahead. With that said, fans are always interested in examining future schedules, so I wanted to keep an up-to-date summary of what we know. I will update this article over time as new announcements are made.

This topic became especially relevant prior to the 2010 season, where the scheduling of two FCS opponents kept the Devils out of a Bowl game. Fortunately, our future non-conference schedules are much stronger.

Remember that with the Pac-12 schedule, in odd-numbered years we have five conference home games, including divisional opponents USC, Colorado and AU. In even-numbered years, we play only four conference home games (including Utah and UCLA). It's going to be a lot harder to sell season tickets in those even-numbered years. The Pac-12 will no longer announce the conference schedule years in advance. They will now wait until the new year to set the schedule for the coming season. This allows the conference to ensure good games for the new Pac-12 Network based on each team's projected performance. However, we do know which Pac-12 teams ASU will play each season through 2018.

Let's review the out-of-conference schedule. As most fans know, the traditional philosophy behind the non-conference scheduling has been to have an "A", "B" and "C" level opponent. The additional requirement is to have at least two of the games at home, especially in even-numbered years when we only have four conference games at Sun Devil Stadium. However, from 2011-13 we saw more of an "A, A, C" model. DevilsDigest.com published a Q&A with Associate Athletic Director Mark Brand in February 2010 that explains the process in a lot of detail. I never understand fan criticism of our scheduling, because most neutral parties see our out-of-conference schedule as one of the best year-in, year-out.

Jeff Metcalfe's articles in the Republic from September 2009 and February 2010 do a great job of describing the problems finding non-conference opponents, and Doug Haller's article from September 2012 explains how the new playoff will impact non-conference scheduling.

The "A" level opponent is from a BCS Automatic Qualifier conference. In recent seasons, Illinois, Missouri and Wisconsin have been "A" level opponents. ASU was planning to play a home-and-home series with LSU in 2015 and 2016 but that series has been pushed back to 2022-23.

Ideally, we should play an "A" level opponent at home in even-numbered years to counter the lack of quality Pac-12 opponents. We have achieved that goal for 2012through 2022 after striking out in 2010.

The "B" level opponent is from a FBS non-AQ conference such as the MWC or C-USA. In the past, these schools may have played twice at ASU in return for one game at their site, but is seems like we will have a harder time finding "B" level opponents in coming seasons. New Mexico is the next opponent in this category in 2014-15, followed by UTSA and San Diego State. Each of these series are home-and-home.

The "C" level opponent is usually an FCS school, and is always going to be an opponent that does not require a return visit. We try to schedule NAU as often as possible for this slot, which is a nice way to keep the money in-state.

Coach Todd Graham has placed additional emphasis on recruiting in Texas, and games in Texas are of special value. After playing Notre Dame in Dallas in 2013, ASU plays in Houston (2015), San Antonio (2016) and Lubbock (2017).

So let's review the current plans for future seasons. Click on links for announcements of specific games. Actual dates shown when known.

Year BCS AQ FBS non-AQ FCS Pac-12 Misses
2014 Notre Dame* (11/8) @ New Mexico (9/6) Weber State (8/30) Oregon
Cal
2015 Texas A&M** (9/5) New Mexico (9/19) Cal Poly (9/12) Oregon State
Stanford
2016 Texas Tech (9/10) @ UTSA (9/17) NAU (9/3) Oregon State
Stanford
2017 @ Texas Tech (9/16)New Mexico State (9/2) -- Washington State
San Diego State (9/9) Cal
2018 Michigan State (9/8) UTSA (9/1) TBD Washington State
@ San Diego State*** (9/15) Cal
2019 @ Michigan State (9/14) TBD TBD TBD
2020 BYU (9/19) TBD TBD TBD
2021 @ BYU (9/18) TBD TBD TBD
2022 LSU (9/10) TBD TBD TBD
2023 @ LSU (9/9) TBD TBD TBD

* ASU was originally due to play at Notre Dame in 2017 but that game was later canceled.
** The Texas A&M game in 2015 will be played at NRG Stadium in Houston, TX.
*** The San Diego State game in 2018 was originally scheduled for 9/8/18 but was later moved to 9/15/18 to accommodate the Michigan State game.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

GO DEVILS:

Yearly, this conversation takes place and yearly the fans hear the sob story of how difficult it is to schedule ahead some quality teams. As an older fan, I'm never impressedwith excuses..UC-Davis...NAU....NMSU...North Texas..! After forty years, it has all become just excuses...think about it. While teams like BYU, Utah, Colorado State have good years, ASU does not play them....hm? Wishing the football team the BEST...the administrators better excuses !!

Chuck

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