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College Football's Best Home Schedules for 2013


David Shaw

News this week that season ticket sales at Vanderbilt were down shocked anyone who’s been paying attention to the college football landscape.

The Commodores are enjoying their best run in decades at a time when the SEC is on top. They’ve recruited their share of top-100 recruits. And their coaching staff will never be accused of lacking PR savvy.

Yet season ticket sales at Vanderbilt are down. One theory is the lack of marquee home games for the ‘Dores. In a league full of top-25 teams, Georgia is the Athlon preseason top 25 team coming to Nashville. The next best team a Vanderbilt season ticket holder will see is Ole Miss. And after that Missouri or Wake Forest.

A good home slate for wins, perhaps, but not sizzle.

These teams won’t have Vanderbilt’s problem.

As the season nears, we took a look at the best home schedules in college football for 2013. We considered a few key factors: most important, which home schedule will be most beneficial for a team to accomplish its goals. And as more big-time non-conference games move to neutral sites or replaced altogether by easy wins, we considered which season ticket holders will get the most bang for their buck.


Sept. 7 San Jose State
Sept. 21 Arizona State
Oct. 5 Washington
Oct. 19 UCLA
Nov. 7 Oregon
Nov. 23 Cal
Nov. 30 Notre Dame

Stanford won’t have very many easy wins in Palo Alto this season, but it’s sure to be an entertaining ride. A Thursday night game against Oregon will be wild, but Stanford brings in three other Athlon top-30 teams (Arizona State, UCLA and Notre Dame). Then throw in another bowl team (Washington), a rivalry game (Cal) and a mid-major darling (San Jose State). Stanford may have the best defense in the Pac-12, and it will need to be on display in front of the home crowd.

South Carolina
Aug. 29 North Carolina
Sept. 14 Vanderbilt
Oct. 5 Kentucky
Nov. 2 Mississippi State
Nov. 16 Florida
Nov. 23 Coastal Carolina
Nov. 30 Clemson
South Carolina finally gets the break its been looking for with its schedule. In the past four seasons, the Gamecocks have faced LSU at home, in 2012 a Bobby Petrino-led Arkansas team on the road in 2011 and Auburn and Alabama in 2010. Carolina gets Georgia on the road, but the other serious SEC East contender (Florida) and two toughest non-conference opponents (North Carolina and Clemson) visit Williams-Brice Stadium.

Aug. 29 Indiana State
Sept. 7 Navy
Sept. 14 Bowling Green
Sept. 21 Missouri
Oct. 5 Penn State
Nov. 2 Minnesota
Nov. 9 Illinois
Nov. 30 Purdue

Indiana is a trendy pick to move into bowl contention this season, and the schedule is a big reason. The Hoosiers have eight home games, and only three of those are against FBS teams that finished last season with winning records (Penn State, Navy and Bowling Green). If Indiana can get its defense in order, this could be an opportunity to pick up key wins.

Aug. 31 Central Michigan
Sept. 7 Notre Dame
Sept. 14 Akron
Oct. 5 Minnesota
Oct. 19 Indiana
Nov. 19 Nebraska
Nov. 30 Ohio State
Michigan season ticket holders will get their money’s worth with Notre Dame, Nebraska and Ohio State visiting the Big House. The series with Notre Dame has been a back-and-forth affair, but the Wolverines have won six of the last seven in Ann Arbor. Ohio State, of course, is a different story.

Oklahoma State
Sept. 14 Lamar
Oct. 5 Kansas State
Oct. 19 TCU
Nov. 9 Kansas
Nov. 23 Baylor
Dec. 7 Oklahoma

Oklahoma State will face only one of Athlon’s top six Big 12 teams on the road, and the Cowboys have defeated that team, Texas, twice in a row in Austin. Oklahoma State gets Oklahoma, TCU, Kansas State and Baylor all in Stillwater.

Sept. 2 Florida State
Sept. 14 New Mexico
Sept. 28 Virginia
Oct. 19 Old Dominion
Nov. 9 Notre Dame
Nov. 16 North Carolina
Nov. 29 Miami

Pittsburgh’s first home schedule as an ACC program is a little reminiscent of the Panthers’ schedule as an independent — Florida State, Notre Dame and Miami. All three faced Pitt regularly in the ‘70s (Notre Dame has been on the schedule more or less continuously since the ‘60s.). Throw in ACC contender North Carolina, and Pitt could be upset central in the league.

Sept. 7 Texas
Sept. 21 Utah
Sept. 28 Middle Tennessee
Oct. 12 Georgia Tech
Oct. 26 Boise State
Nov. 16 Idaho State

One question when BYU went independent would be how the Cougars would get teams to visit Provo. BYU has only six home games, but the Cougars could do worse than having four of them against Texas, Utah, Georgia Tech and Boise State.

Arizona State
Sept. 5 Sacramento State
Sept. 14 Wisconsin
Sept. 28 USC
Oct. 12 Colorado
Oct. 19 Washington
Nov. 16 Oregon State
Nov. 30 Arizona

Arizona State has tough road trips against last season’s Pac-12 division winners in Stanford and UCLA plus a game against Notre Dame at Arlington. Facing its next toughest league opponents at home — USC, Washington and Oregon State — isn’t a bad trade. Arizona State won its last meeting at home against USC, has defeated Washington seven times in a row and is 18-4 all-time against Oregon State in Tempe. Catching Wisconsin at home early in the season probably isn’t a bad matchup either.

Sept. 7 Syracuse
Sept. 14 Western Michigan
Sept. 21 Maine
Oct. 5 Ohio State
Oct. 19 Minnesota
Nov. 15 Michigan
Nov. 23 Michigan State

If you’re an upset-hungry Northwestern team that has to face Ohio State and Michigan, may as well get both at home.

Aug. 31 BYU
Sept. 7 Oregon
Sept. 21 VMI
Oct. 5 Ball State
Oct. 19 Duke
Oct. 26 Georgia Tech
Nov. 2 Clemson
Nov. 30 Virginia Tech

Virginia might not be very good, but at least a season ticket holder will have a chance to see a few good teams come through Charlottesville, including two West Coast teams in ACC country. If the Cavaliers were a division contender, getting Georgia Tech, Clemson and Virginia Tech at home would be a major advantage.

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