San Diego State's football non-conference schedule is the perfect blueprint of what a majority of universities use, especially those in the Mountain West Conference. This model is to schedule an FCS school, a weak and solid FBS school, and a nationally ranked team.
Each one has their own reasons to be scheduled. The FCS school is suppose to be either a tune up game for the rest of the season or to be an easy win during a difficult stretch of the season. The weak FBS school is suppose to be another easy win, but without the stigma of having two FCS school teams on their schedule.
The solid FBS school is to prove that the team is not shying away from competition and willing to play a known quantity. Now there are countless reasons to schedule a nationally ranked team, but the most important is to garner national attention for their school, which can attract both recruits and money, even at the expense of a lopsided defeat.
SDSU has scheduled Northern Arizona University (FCS), Idaho (weak FBS), Oregon State (solid FBS), and the University of North Carolina (nationally ranked).
For the second straight year SDSU will open their season at home against an FCS school. However, that does not mean an automatic win for the Aztecs, as they learned last year by the thrashing Jimmy Garoppolo and the Eastern Illinois Panthers put on them. To prevent history repeating itself, the Aztecs will need to be physically--and more importantly mentally--focused, as the Lumberjacks will try to pull off the upset.
To show how common it is for an FBS school to schedule a game against an FCS school, consider this: nine out of the other 11 MWC teams also scheduled an FCS school. New Mexico and Boise State are the two schools that will not play an FCS team.
The next team San Diego State will play is the No. 23 UNC in Chapel Hill, with the ranking coming via the preseason Amway Coaches Poll. The Aztecs will have their hands full trying to contain the Tar Heels electric dual threat quarterback Marquise Williams, who picked up his play significantly at the end of last season. Also, the towering Quinshad Davis who is a red zone threat and the versatile Ryan Switzer who won countless first and second-team All-American awards, as he recorded a receiving, passing and special teams touchdown.
In terms of the MWC, six other teams will either host or go on the road to play a ranked opponent. Two of which will play two such opponents, Fresno State will play No. 15 USC and No. 22 Nebraska, while Wyoming will take on No. 4 Oregon and No. 8 Michigan State.
SDSU will have a bye the week following their matchup against UNC and then will have to head up to Corvallis to take on Oregon State. The bright side for the Aztecs is that they will not have to game plan for Brandin Cooks, the record setting receiver for the Beavers who hauled in 128 receptions and 16 touchdowns last season. The downside is that the man, Sean Mannion, who threw him all those passes, broke his own school records and who carved up the Aztec's secondary last season still dons a Beaver jersey.
The Aztecs end their non-conference schedule at home against Idaho. The Vandals have gone through a tumultuous time over the past three seasons, managing to win only four games combined, going 1-11 last year, with the lone victory coming at home. However, this game is not scheduled until November 8th, which will then lead into the matchup between the Aztecs and Boise State. SDSU should hope they can put this game away early and be rested for their trip to Boise.
Each of the 11 other MWC teams has scheduled either or both a weak and solid FBS school for the following season.
SDSU plays by no means the most difficult non-conference schedule in the MWC, that honor goes to Wyoming. Nor do the Aztecs play the easiest schedule. However, they do have a solid one and definitely have the ability to start this season on a high note if they can play to their full potential and carry over the momentum they built last season into this one.