A Forbes report on Power Five schedules for 2019 shows the rare company USC football keeps when it comes to playing major-conference opponents.
USC football may not have the power fans enjoyed during the Pete Carroll era, when the Trojans would take on all comers and emerge victories every time (or what felt like it).
The men of Troy are coming off a 5-7 season and face a difficult schedule in the fall, one which has many wondering how far below .500 Clay Helton and company will stand after just six games.
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Yet that schedule is precisely why USC fans can still hold their heads up high
On Monday, Forbes’ David Ching pointed out several noteworthy facts about Power Five schedules in 2019, particularly when it comes to the Trojans.
USC is one of just 12 Power Five teams who will play two other major-conference programs in their out-of-conference slate with trips to BYU and Notre Dame, both independents who are nonetheless factor in as Power Five opposition.
The Trojans are joined by Boston College, Purdue, Stanford, West Virginia, Clemson, Duke, Florida, Georgia, Louisville, North Carolina and South Carolina in that feat.
But only five of those 12 are also playing a total of 11 regular-season games against other Power Five opponents: Boston College, Purdue, Stanford, West Virginia and USC.
The picture narrows even more when you factor in games against FCS teams.
There are only 17 teams in the Power Five who will not play an FCS team, which is an interesting thing to consider on it’s own.
Per Forbes, those 17 are Colorado, Illinois, Iowa, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Notre Dame, Northwestern, Ohio State, Penn State, Purdue, Rutgers, Stanford, Texas, UCLA, Wisconsin and USC.
Of course, the venn diagram of teams playing 11 regular-season games against Power Five opposition and teams not playing FCS opposition only includes three teams: Purdue, Stanford and USC.
Of those three, credit has to go to Stanford. Their out of conference schedule features Northwestern, UCF and Notre Dame with an average S&P+ ranking of 32nd. That rivals USC’s schedule of Fresno State, BYU and Notre Dame with an average S&P+ ranking of 37th.
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Purdue’s out of conference schedule of Nevada, Vanderbilt and TCU averages out to 56th.
Looking ahead to the future, USC will continue to be among those rare teams. The 2020 and 2021 Trojan schedules do not feature an FCS team and will include games against no less than 11 major-conference opponents.
That will change in 2022 when USC is scheduled to play Rice and Fresno State in addition to Notre Dame. Unless Fresno State links up with a Power Five conference between now and then.