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Fans have every reason to avoid these lopsided matchups
Georgia Tech’s record for the biggest rout in college football history — 222-0 over Cumberland College in 1916 — may be one of sports’ unbreakable records. Parity and sportsmanship dictate that teams will let up before hitting the century mark.
That's not for lack of trying. Seventy-point routs weren't uncommon in 2013. With a backup quarterback, Ohio State defeated Florida A&M 76-0. Georgia Tech did beat Elon by 70. Miami did the same to Savannah State, a team that lost by 84 to Oklahoma State a year earlier.
Even as the College Football Playoff has brought about practices to strengthen schedules — whether it’s the SEC’s requirement for teams to play at least one power conference team or nine-game conference schedules in the Big Ten, Big 12 and Pac-12 — a few patsies have found their way onto 2014 schedules.
Schools are opening up wallets to schedule these guarantee games, but schools perhaps should consider a cash reward for fans who sit through all 60 minutes.
Let’s keep a few things in mind as we run down the most shameful games of 2014:
1. We don’t care how or why the game was scheduled, even if the power team in question is in a bind because a better team backed out of a game.
2. These games aren’t shameful simply because the opponent is bad or from the lower division. Georgia State opens with Abilene Christian, a team that was in Division II just two seasons ago. We’ll let that one pass as the Panthers, winless as an FBS member, needs all the help it can get.
3. We’ll give a little bit of credit to a major team scheduling a in-state foe. Reaching across state lines, though, for an easy win is an easy way to end up on this list.
There are games that will be so obviously lopsided that they shouldn’t be on the schedule.
1. Western Carolina at Alabama (Nov. 22)
Nick Saban’s breaking of ranks with the SEC to push the league to a nine-game season may be commendable. But it’s unclear if that conference game would replace the annual warm up for Auburn. The Crimson Tide continue a tradition since 2009 of making sure it has an exhibition before the Iron Bowl by inviting Western Carolina to be walloped this season. Alabama knows exactly what it’s getting from the Catamounts, an opponent that is 14-76 since 2006. Of Western Carolina’s last four wins — spanning three seasons — three are over Division II Mars Hill. Moreover, Alabama has played Western Carolina twice under Saban, defeating the school from Cullowhee, N.C., by a combined score of 101-6.
2. Savannah State at BYU (Nov. 22)
Scheduling as an independent can be tough for BYU, especially late in the season. And Savannah State has established itself as will to take a beating to keep funds coming into the athletic program. In the last two seasons, Savannah State has lost to Troy (66-3), Miami (77-7), Oklahoma State (84-0) and Florida State (55-0 in a game with a running clock). The Tigers, 4-41 the last four seasons, found another willing partner in BYU.
3. Western Illinois at Wisconsin (Sept. 6)
Wisconsin lands on the list by scheduling the least of the directional Illinois schools. First, there’s MAC power Northern Illinois. Even Eastern Illinois has been the home of quarterbacks Tony Romo and new England Patriots draft pick Jimmy Garoppolo. Western Illinois, on the other hand, has been mediocre in the Missouri Valley for a decade. The Leathernecks are 9-25 in the last three years.
4. Nicholls State at Arkansas (Sept. 6)
Bret Bielema needs all the help he can get, especially if Auburn’s up-tempo offense in the first game of the season extends Bielema’s winless start in the SEC. Still, we can’t excuse an SEC team for scheduling Nicholls State, a team that is 6-28 in the last three years and has endured six consecutive losing seasons. Only Miami’s game against Savannah State saved Oregon’s hosting of Nicholls State last season from being the most shameful game of 2013.
5. Presbyterian at NC State (Sept. 20)
At No. 231 in the 2013 Sagarin Ratings, Presbyterian is the lowest-rated team a major conference program will face in 2014. NC State was winless in the ACC last season, but the Wolfpack already loaded up on two teams new to the FBS level in Georgia Southern and Old Dominion. In other words, if this game took place a year ago, NC State would be facing three FCS teams.
6. Presbyterian at Ole Miss (Sept. 20)
Again, Presbyterian is a 3-8 team in only its fourth season removed from Division II. Ole Miss shouldn’t be playing this game, but the Rebels have a non-conference schedule that includes league title contenders from the Mountain West (Boise State in Atlanta) and Sun Belt (Louisiana-Lafayette). That’s why NC State should be more embarrassed by scheduling the same opponent.
7. Eastern Kentucky at Florida (Sept. 22)
Will Muschamp said he doesn’t want his team playing FCS opponents. That's fine, even if it is amusing since his team lost to an FCS opponent (Georgia Southern) last season. That doesn’t change he has Eastern Kentucky on the schedule in 2014. The Colonels are better than most of the FCS teams on this list, but Florida gets docked for having two of the worst FBS programs already on the 2014 slate in Idaho and Eastern Michigan.
8. South Dakota at Oregon (Aug. 30)
At least Oregon found an FCS opponent from within a 2,000-mile radius to clobber this time around. Since facing Portland State in 2010, the Ducks have faced Nicholls State, Tennessee Tech and Missouri State in its annual September exhibition. Still, Oregon scheduled the lesser of two schools in South Dakota. The Coyotes are 4-18 under former Wyoming coach Joe Glenn.
9. Idaho State at Utah (Aug. 28)
If this game were against Boise State, we’d look forward to it. If it were against Idaho, it would an almost-excusable game against an FBS team. Instead, Utah draws Idaho State, a team that is 9-59 in the last six seasons. Idaho State allowed at least 40 points in every game last season with the exception of a 38-5 win over Division II Black Hills State.
10. Weber State at Arizona State (Aug. 28)
Weber State was an unlikely victim of the Bobby Petrino fallout at Arkansas when John L. Smith left his post in Ogden, Utah, for Fayetteville before coaching a game. The Wildcats have gone 4-18 since, including a 222-36 margin against four FBS opponents (Fresno State, BYU, Utah and Utah State).
11. VMI at Bowling Green (Sept. 6)
Bowling Green is a bowl regular and the favorite in the MAC in 2014. The Falcons can do better than scheduling a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 1981.
12. Florida A&M at Miami (Sept. 6)
Miami will play two teams from Tallahassee. One team was the FBS champion. The other was ranked No. 227 in Sagarin.
13. Grambling State at Houston (Sept. 6)
The once-proud Grambling problem is dealing with a host of issues, culminating with a player walk-out in October. Only five teams were ranked lower in Sagarin last season.
14. Western Carolina at USF (Aug. 30)
This is the same lackluster FBS team Alabama faces in 2014. The difference between USF and Alabama is worth at least 13 spots in our shame rankings.
15. Elon at Duke (Aug. 30)
As long as David Cutcliffe puts competitive teams on the field at Duke, the less we’ll be able to look away from against against Elon, 5-18 the last two seasons.