Looking at games for the rest of the decade, through 2029. Different teams have a different number of teams scheduled over the next eight years but it’s still worth looking at.
No grades will be attached to each non-conference schedule. Instead, thoughts will be offered and themes will attempt to be made in understanding what each team is trying to do with their non-conference games. It is important to remember not every team is trying to do the same thing. For instance, the priority for some teams is preserving traditional rivalries. Some teams are getting big pay-day games in order to fund their athletic budget for the year. Others attempt to schedule a big game or two in hopes of boosting their resume and make a New Year’s Six run.
2022: Northern Iowa, Colorado, Navy, Army
2023: Robert Morris, New Mexico State, Navy, Army
2024: Baylor, Army, Navy
2025: New Mexico State, Army, Navy
2026: Duquesne, Navy, Army
2027: Baylor, Army, Navy
2028: UTSA, Navy, Army
2029: Arizona, Army, Navy
The Falcons only really have two openings, as Army and Navy are on the schedule every year. So their grade is a bit of a mixed bag. The academy rivalries are hard-fought fun contests (especially if you like triple-option offense) but the other games don’t inspire much confidence. The other games are a balance of P5 opponents and lower G5/FCS teams, but what really matters to the program are the rivalry games.
2022: Oregon State, UT-Martin, UTEP, BYU
2023: Washington, UCF, North Dakota,
2024: Georgia Southern, Oregon State, Oregon, Houston
2025: USF, Oregon, Houston
2026: Oregon, East Carolina
2027: Rice, USF, Marshall
2028: Cincinnati, East Carolina, Georgia Southern
2029: Cincinnati, Washington, Rice
The Broncos have a slew of Power 5 opponents on their schedule, particularly PAC-12 opponents. They also scheduled some top Group of 5 teams that will eventually be Big12 teams, which will make the schedule look even better. They have some gimmie games too but don’t seem to go overboard on them right now. It’s clearly a schedule built to make NY6 runs, with a do-or-die approach. Time will tell if Boise State can capitalize on it one of these years.
2022: Michigan, Middle Tennessee, Washington State, Sacramento State
2023: Washington State, Colorado, Middle Tennessee, Dixie State
2024: Texas, Northern Colorado, Colorado, UTEP
2025: Washington, Texas Tech, Northern Colorado, Vanderbilt
2026: Indiana, Southern Utah, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt
2027: Arizona, Wisconsin
It looks like Colorado State has a payday game or two each year against Power 5 teams. There are some winnable games against mid to low PAC 12 teams they can hopefully capitalize on when the time comes. The Rams pay their fair share of FCS opponents too. It’s too bad the Colorado series won’t resume until 2029, because that is an important rivalry game for the Rams, even if it has been a bit one-sided in recent years. Overall, there are some games on the schedule that give CSU a chance to make a statement and it will be a good measuring stick for Fort Air Raid.
2022: Cal Poly, Oregon State, USC, UConn
2023: Purdue, Eastern Washington, Arizona State
2024: Michigan, Sacramento State, UCLA, New Mexico State
2025: Kansas, Georgia Southern, Oregon State, Southern
2026: USC, Sacramento State, Washington State
2027: Dixie State, Washington, Washington State
2028: USC, Georgia Southern
2029: Texas Tech
There is a lot to like about the future schedules for the Bulldogs. They certainly prioritize schools in California, with seven in-state games over the next eight years. Fresno State mixes in numerous Power 5 teams, and winnable games at that. They also supplement their schedules with lower-level Group of 5 teams or FCS teams to provide balance, but they don’t overdo it. Also, FSU has done a nice job of filling up their schedule, with each year having at least three of four games until 2028. They clearly have a plan and are executing it well.
2022: Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Michigan, Duquesne, New Mexico State
2023: Vanderbilt, Stanford, Albany, Oregon, New Mexico State
2024: Oregon, UCLA, BYU, Nothern Iowa, New Mexico State
2025: Stanford, Arizona, BYU, Portland State
2026: Stanford, Arizona State, New Mexico State
2027: UCLA, New Mexico State
2028: Fordham, UCLA, New Mexico State
Hawaii can schedule up to five non-conference games so it’s hard to know if their schedules are complete or not in 2023 and 2024. It’s a wide range of games, going from big-name schools like Michigan and Oregon to FCS teams like Duquesne and Fordham. Ideally, they would replace those FCS games with lower-level Group of 5, but in some ways, maybe it doesn’t matter. They do a really nice job getting home-and-home series with teams like Vanderbilt and Stanford, likely drawing on the appeal of playing a game in Hawaii. On the other hand, their ongoing series with New Mexico State is a bit puzzling and the Rainbow Warriors could do without them. But for a team with noted geographical concerns, it’s not a bad schedule.
2022: New Mexico State, Texas State, Incarnate Word, Iowa
2023: USC, Idaho, Texas State
2024: BYU, Minnesota, Eastern Washington
2025: Penn State
The Wolf Pack have some work to do on the back half of this schedule in terms of just filling teams. 2022 is especially barren in terms of quality opponents and that is the only complete season on the schedule. With openings over the next two seasons, it’s likely those will become more FCS gimmie games with such late notice. Nevada does have a Power 5 pay-day game each season, which is helpful. However, it does seem they have little identity or a plan about what they want to do. Perhaps that is for the best as the new coaching regime can build the schedule more of how they want to. It will be interesting to see what they do.
2022: Maine, UTEP, LSU, New Mexico State
2023: Texas A&M, Tennessee Tech, UMass, New Mexico State
2024: Montana State, Arizona, Auburn, New Mexico State
2025: Michigan, Idaho State, UCLA, New Mexico State
2026: Oklahoma, New Mexico State
2027: Oregon State, Texas A&M, New Mexico State
2028: Oregon State, New Mexico State
2029: New Mexico State
The Lobos have no issue with pay-day games, with ten games against Power 5 teams and at least eight of them appear like they have little to no chance at all to win. On the other end of the spectrum, they schedule some obscure teams, like Maine, UMass, or Montana State in hopes of getting a few easier wins each year. Expect more of those in the latter half of the decade. Each year is the ongoing series with New Mexico State, and out of any team in the conference, New Mexico is the only team that makes sense to play the Aggies. As an in-state rival, it makes sense to keep the series going and is in many ways a fairly even rivalry game. For a bottom of the conference team, the Lobos schedule makes sense.
San Diego State
2022: Arizona, Idaho State, Utah, Toledo
2023: Idaho State, New Mexico State, UCLA, Oregon State
2024: Washington State, Cal, Portland State, Central Michigan
2025: Stony Brook, Washington State, Cal
2026: Portland State, UCLA, Oregon State, Toledo
2027: Eastern Michigan, Missouri, Arizona State
2028: Missouri, Arizona State, Louisiana Tech
2029: Louisiana Tech
San Diego State has used this type of formula for their out of conference schedules for years and it’s worked out in their favor extremely well. They have done a tremendous job scheduling home and home series with two PAC-12 teams most years and then they fill out the rest of their schedule with teams from the Group of 5 or sometimes FCS teams. It’s a very balanced schedule and the Aztecs have competed very well against the PAC-12 in recent years, with a 6-2 record since 2016.
San Jose State
2022: Portland State, Auburn, Western Michigan, New Mexico State
2023: Cal Poly, Oregon State, Ohio State, Toledo
2024: Sacramento State, USC, Louisiana Monroe, Akron
2025: Central Michigan, Texas, Idaho, USF
2026: Eastern Michigan, Penn State, UTEP
2027: Minnesota, Akron, Portland State, UTEP
2028: Howard, Toledo, Washington
2029: Holy Cross, Eastern Michigan, Oregon State
The Spartans appear to have a plan as well, and although it is different from San Diego State, it’s still a pretty good one for where they are at. A Power 5 payday game appears to be at the core of their schedule, with traditional blue bloods like Auburn, Ohio State, USC, and Texas all on future schedules. There are some games that could be more winnable, like Minnesota or Oregon State down the line. Then SJSU fills in the gaps with FCS and lower-level teams, the Portland State, Caly Poly, and directional Michigans of the world. San Jose State is not yet in a position to take bigger risks in their OCC schedule, so this model is perfect for them.
2022: Idaho State, Cal, North Texas, Notre Dame
2023: Michigan, Vanderbilt, UTEP
2024: Houston, Army
2025: Cal, UCLA
2026: Cal, North Texas
2027: Arizona State, USTA
2028: Houston, Army
The Rebels are another team who have a noticeable number of openings on their schedule, starting as soon as next year and no more than two teams beginning in 2024. As for the teams on the schedule, the formula seems to be two Power 5 teams and then either a Group of 5 or FCS team. Three games scheduled against Cal is nice and winning one of them would be huge for UNLV. They will also need to make statements against the 50/50 games, UTEP/Army/USTA if they want to show they are a competitive team like they aspire to be. It is a schedule with enough games designed to help the Rebels be competitive and hopefully, they can achieve that.
2022: UConn, Alabama, Weber State, BYU
2023: Iowa, Idaho State, UConn, BYU
2024: Mississippi State, BYU,
2025: Texas A&M, BYU
The Aggies have taken some big swings on their schedule and no one can say they aren’t afraid to pay top teams. Alabama this year, five straight games against in-state BYU, and three games against Oregon at the end of the decade demonstrate the need for pay-day games but also their desire to play some of the best teams in the country. The next two years show their potential blueprint for some games against top teams balanced out by games against the bottom of the Group of 5 or FCS teams (UConn, Weber State). The biggest critique of Utah State’s future schedule is that there are big holes to fill starting in 2024. They have some work to do to fill up the schedule.
2022: Illinois, Tulsa, Northern Colorado, BYU
2023: Texas Tech, Portland State, Texas, Appalachian State
2024: Arizona State, Idaho, New Mexico State, BYU
2025: Akron, Cal Poly, Utah, Colorado
2026: UConn, North Texas, Nothern Colorado, Central Michigan
2027: Utah, Southern Utah, North Texas, Central Michigan
2028: Idaho State, Akron, Texas Tech, UTEP
2029: Cal, UConn, UTEP
Wyoming’s out-of-conference schedule certainly points towards a pre-season or warm-up to get ready for conference play more often than not. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with that for a mid-major. They mix in a pay-day game every year or two, but if the goal is to win the conference, then the first month of games aren’t necessarily a priority. However, the question for the Cowboys is: does their OOC slate actually prepare them for the Mountain West slew of games? Last year the team started 4-0 and expectations were riding high. That turned out to be fool’s gold as the team, especially the offense, wilted going up against better competition.