The Duel

5 Easiest College Football Non-Conference Schedules in 2020 NCAAF Season Among Preseason Top-25 Teams

By David Hayes
Dan Mullen speaks to QB Kyle Trask in the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl Game against Virginia.
Dan Mullen speaks to QB Kyle Trask in the 2019 Capital One Orange Bowl Game against Virginia. / Michael Reaves/Getty Images
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Even though we're still roughly half the year away from the return of college football in 2020, some programs don't have to wait until late August to understand the scheduling items that await them this fall. While some teams are already staring at mountainous challenges in the non-conference slate, others should emerge with little opposition.

Using a combination of NCAA.com's first 2020 preseason Top-25 rankings and the final AP Top-25 Poll of the 2019-20 as a quantifiable reference, here's a look at which five Top-25 programs arguably have the easiest college football non-conference schedules ahead of them in the 2020-21 season.

Easiest Non-Conference College Football Schedules in 2020 Season

5. Utah Utes

Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham leads the Utes into the Pac-12 Championship game against Oregon.
Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham leads the Utes into the Pac-12 Championship game against Oregon. / Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Utah 2020 Non-Conference Football Schedule:
- (Thur., 9/3) vs. BYU Cougars
- (Sat., 9/12) vs. Montana State Bobcats (FCS)
- (Sat., 9/19) @ Wyoming Cowboys
NCAA Preseason Top-25 Rank: No. 22
BYU and Wyoming were both bowl teams last season, but considering Utah is looking for its 10th straight victory over its annual in-state rival BYU at home in Salt Lake City this fall, the Utes' non-conference schedule already feels like it's boiled down to that road trip against the Cowboys.

4. Texas A&M Aggies

Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond attempts a pass in a game against the LSU Tigers.
Texas A&M QB Kellen Mond attempts a pass in a game against the LSU Tigers. / Sean Gardner/Getty Images

Texas A&M 2020 Non-Conference Football Schedule:
- (Sat., 9/5) vs. Abilene Christian Wildcats (FCS)
- (Sat., 9/12) vs. North Texas Mean Green
- (Sat., 9/19) vs. Colorado Buffaloes
- (Sat., 10/10) vs. Fresno State Bulldogs
NCAA Preseason Top-25 Rank: No. 13
Even though the Aggies have plenty of SEC scheduling challenges awaiting later this fall, such as back-to-back matchups with Alabama and LSU to close out the year, Texas A&M's non-conference schedule presents one of the easiest lineups in the country. The Aggies get all four non-conference opponents at home on Kyle Field headline by a single Power 5 opponent in a Colorado Buffaloes' team that finished tied for the second-worst record in the Pac-12 last season.

3. Arizona State Sun Devils

Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards on the sidelines during a game against California.
Arizona State head coach Herm Edwards on the sidelines during a game against California. / Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Arizona State 2020 Non-Conference Football Schedule:
- (Thur., 9/3) vs. Northern Arizona Lumberjacks (FCS)
- (Sat., 9/12) @ UNLV Rebels
- (Sat., 9/19) vs. BYU Cougars
NCAA Preseason Top-25 Rank: No. 25
Arizona State and Utah share a common matchup in facing BYU at home this season, however, the Sun Devils' own single road test comes against a lowly UNLV program that finished last season with just two home wins at 4-8. Beyond BYU and UNLV, that only leaves a home bout with an FCS Northern Arizona opponent in Tempe.

2. Oklahoma State Cowboys

Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard scores a TD in a game against the TCU Horned Frogs.
Oklahoma State RB Chuba Hubbard scores a TD in a game against the TCU Horned Frogs. / Brian Bahr/Getty Images

Oklahoma State 2020 Non-Conference Football Schedule:
- (Thur., 9/3) vs Oregon State Beavers
- (Sat., 9/12) vs. Tulsa Golden Hurricane
- (Sat., 9/19) vs. Western Illinois Leatherbacks (FCS)
NCAA Preseason Top-25 Rank: No. 12
While Oregon State proved more competitive than most expected in a 5-7 finish last season, the Beavers were still a sub-.500 team that idled around the middle of a weaker Pac-12 conference. Not only does Oklahoma State draw Oregon State as likely its toughest and lone Power 5 non-conference opponent, but the Cowboys also don't have to set foot beyond Stillwater for any of their three matchups.

1. Florida Gators

Florida Gators QB Kyle Trask attempts a pass in a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores.
Florida Gators QB Kyle Trask attempts a pass in a game against the Vanderbilt Commodores. / Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Florida 2020 Non-Conference Football Schedule:
- (Sat., 9/5) vs. Eastern Washington Eagles (FCS)
- (Sat., 9/19) vs. South Alabama Jaguars
- (Sat., 11/21) vs. New Mexico State Aggies
- (Sat., 11/28) @ Florida State Seminoles
NCAA Preseason Top-25 Rank: No. 9
For an SEC program fresh off a 12-2 season capped a New Year's Six bowl win, Florida arguably has the weakest non-conference schedule among the nation's entire list of preseason Top-25 teams. Just like Oklahoma State, the Gators face all three of their early non-conference opponents at home in Gainesville in a lineup that combined for a 1-21 record against FBS opponents last season. And while Florida's annual rivalry with Florida State has presented major opposition in many past years, the current state of FSU's football program doesn't project to bring much of a challenge for the Gators in 2020, even on the road.


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David Hayes is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, David Hayes also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username DavidWHayes. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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