It’s no secret every college football team wants to play as many home games as possible each season. More home games mean increased revenue from fans filling up the home stadium on each of those weekends. It makes sense for a team to want to maximize that revenue. The biggest problem with this philosophy is that it leads to a plethora of games against cupcake opponents to guarantee an easy home victory before conference play starts.
These 25 non-conference games for the 2012 college football season offer the worst examples of scheduling cupcake opponents:
1. Northwestern Oklahoma State vs UTSA, Sept. 22: Maybe the WAC can start sponsoring NAIA level football instead of dropping the sport. First-year WAC member UT-San Antonio is already playing an NAIA team. The Roadrunners have a home game against Northwestern Oklahoma State, which belongs to Sooner Athletic Conference. This is easily the biggest cupcake game on either the FBS or FCS level.
2. Western Carolina at Alabama, Nov. 17: The defending BCS national champion will use an FCS opponent–who finished 1-10 in 2011–as a punching bag to tune up for the Iron Bowl against Auburn the following week.
3. Charleston Southern at Illinois, Sept, 15: Illinois fans might as well mark one down in the win column here. Charleston Southern finished 0-11 last season and is 0-11 all-time against FBS teams. Average final score in those games: 57-9.
4. Idaho State at Nebraska, Sept. 22: Consider this a glorified scrimmage for the Cornhuskers heading into Big 10 play. The Bengals finished 2-9 last season and have not had a winning season since 2003. Idaho State has won a total of 10 games over the last six seasons.
5. VMI at Navy, Sept. 22: The Midshipmen scheduled this cupcake two weeks after a bye week. It might as well count as a second bye. The Keydets have not had a winning season since 1981, their last at the Division I-A level.
6. Texas A&M Commerce at UTSA, Sept. 8: The Roadrunners’ non-conference schedule does improve in later seasons. It’s a good thing. UTSA made its 2012 schedule as soft as possible in its first FBS season. Texas A&M -Commerce is also a non-D-I opponent. The Lions are members of the Lone Star Conference at the NCAA Division II level.
7. Northern Colorado at Utah, Aug. 30: The Utes have certainly adapted to the BCS lifestyle in a hurry. Utah opens the season against a Bears team that went 0-11 a year ago and has lost 18 of its last 19 games, bypassing two better in-state Big Sky teams in Southern Utah and Weber State.
8. Missouri State at Kansas State, Sept. 1: Bill Snyder has created the blueprint for scheduling weak opponents outside of conference play. Missouri State offers ample evidence of it. The Bears went 2-9 and finished 8th in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2011.
9. Austin Peay at Virginia Tech, Sept. 8: The Hokies won’t need to worry about suffering a James Madison-style upset here. The Governors only reinstated scholarship football in 2007 and finished 3-8 in the Ohio Valley Conference last season.
10. Savannah State at Oklahoma State, Sept. 1: Pitting a MEAC team that finished 1-10 in 2011 against a powerful Cowboys offense has ugly written all over it. The biggest shocker would be if Oklahoma State doesn’t hit 70 points here.
11. Southeastern Louisiana vs Missouri, Sept. 1: The SEC’s newest member offers the latest argument for the league to adopt a nine-game conference schedule. Southeastern Louisiana is 0-15 against FBS competition since restarting its football program in 2003, and has had just two winning seasons during that time.
12. Savannah State at Florida State, Sept. 8: To the Seminoles’ credit, they originally had half of a home-and-home series with West Virginia in this slot before the Mountaineers backed out. Still, Savannah State isn’t going to be anymore competitive against Florida State than Oklahoma State.
13. Presbyterian at Vanderbilt, Sept 15: The Commodores will make the SEC proud with this one. The Blue Hose have only been a Division I member since 2007. They are 0-3 against FBS teams since moving to the FCS level and have lost by an average score of 58-15.
14. Missouri State at Louisville, Sept. 8: The Cardinals get a crack at Missouri State a week after Kansas State. Don’t expect the outcome to be much different. This should be an easy win for a Big East title contender.
15. Georgia State at Tennessee, Sept, 8: If Derek Dooley is looking for a fast start to save his job, putting teams like Georgia State on the schedule helps. The Panthers went 3-8 a season ago and will not offer much resistance to the Volunteers.
16. Nicholls State at Oregon State, Sept. 1: It’s hard to blame the Beavers for scheduling a really easy win after last season. They’ll get it here. Nicholls State finished 1-10 last season, the team’s worst record since 1999.
17. Nicholls State at Tulsa, Sept. 15 : The Golden Hurricane decided to avoid a repeat of 2011, when a non-conference schedule that featured Boise State, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State led to a trio of tough losses.
18. Northwestern State at Texas Tech, Sept 1: The Red Raiders are a serial offender at plugging overmatched FCS teams into their non-conference schedules. Northwestern State finished 5-6 in 2011 and kicks off a three-week stretch that includes against FBS newcomer Texas State and New Mexico.
19. Tennessee Tech at Oregon, Sept. 15: It’s a safe bet the Ducks can name the score here. Oregon has averaged 62.5 points per game against FCS teams each of the last two seasons. The Ducks have only allowed 3.5 points. Tennessee Tech is a decent FCS team, but not nearly good enough to hang with Oregon.
20. Western Illinois at Iowa State, Sept 15: The Cyclones get a breather before starting Big 12 play. The Leathernecks went 2-9 and finished last in the Missouri Valley Football Conference in 2011. Their worst loss was a 69-0 shellacking by Missouri.
21. Southern at New Mexico, Sept. 1: Even the Lobos would have a hard time losing this one. The Jaguars have averaged just three wins per season since hiring former NFL player Stump MItchell as head coach in 2010.
22. Rhode Island at Bowling Green, Sept. 29: The Rams are moving to non-scholarship football in 2013 when they join the Northeast Conference. The Falcons get a chance to be the last FBS team to glean an easy victory over them.
23. North Carolina Central at Duke, Sept. 15: FCS teams are usually competitive with the Blue Devils. That won’t be the case here. The Eagles went 2-9 a year ago and have suffered four straight losing seasons since moving up from NCAA Division II in 2007.
24. Delaware State at Cincinnati, Sept. 15: There’s no sting to fear in these Hornets. Delaware State has suffered through four consecutive losing seasons in a bad conference. It adds up to a cakewalk for the Bearcats.
25. Alcorn State at Arkansas State, Sept. 22: It’s rare to see a Sun Belt pull off scheduling a cupcake, but the Red Wolves achieved that feat. The defending Sun Belt champs face a Braves team that went 2-8 a year ago and has won just 14 games total over the past five seasons.
All statistical information can be found at the College Football Data Warehouse.
John Coon is a graduate of the University of Utah and has covered multiple college football games as a reporter in Salt Lake City.