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Ranking College Football's Top 25 Toughest Schedules for 2020

Ranking College Football's Top 25 Toughest Schedules for 2020

Ranking College Football's Top 25 Toughest Schedules for 2020

In a sport where non-conference agreements are brokered two decades into the future, uncertainty looming less than two months before college football's scheduled kickoff feels so unsettling. Indeed, the global COVID-19 pandemic has shrouded so much of our lives in the unknown, and it might dramatically alter the college football season. Until then, however, the schedules are made and we can proceed with what is known at present.

[Editor's note: This article was posted before the Big Ten and Pac-12 announced on Aug. 11 that each conference was postponing all fall sports, including football, with the intent to play in the spring. That is in addition to schedule adjustments previously announced by the ACC and SEC. As a result, the majority of the games mentioned below are no longer on the schedule and additional changes are likely.]

1. USC

Likely preseason No. 1 Alabama opens USC's brutal schedule, marking the first of three matchups pitting the Trojans against leading contenders for the College Football Playoff. Two are in the non-conference, including Notre Dame — the only such meeting at home. USC draws Alabama in Arlington, Texas, and must travel to Autzen Stadium to face Oregon. In addition, USC hosts Washington and Cal in Pac-12 crossovers and must travel to two-time defending divisional champion Utah.

2. Michigan State

Opening the season with a dangerous Big Ten crossover matchup against Northwestern sets the tone for a treacherous slate in Mel Tucker's debut campaign. The Spartans follow up with their three non-conference games, which include a road trip to BYU and home date against a talented Miami squad. Couple that with the always-difficult Big Ten East docket, which has Michigan State playing Michigan and Ohio State in consecutive weeks, and a road date with Iowa, and this is one of the more challenging schedules in the nation.

3. Oregon

Defending Pac-12 and Rose Bowl champion Oregon might be the conference's best hope for earning a College Football Playoff berth since Washington in 2016 — and if the Ducks make the field, they will certainly have earned it. Oregon opens the campaign against FCS juggernaut North Dakota State, the first of two marquee non-conference dates. The other? Perrenial national championship contender Ohio State. Add a conference crossover slate that includes Pac-12 South favorite USC, and Oregon's 2020 schedule is no duck walk.

4. Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech endured serious growing pains in Geoff Collins' first season as head coach. Year Two may not be any easier, with the Yellow Jackets drawing one of the toughest schedules in the nation. Clean Old Fashioned Hate caps the season, placing a playoff-contending Georgia bunch as one bookend on a season where the other is Clemson. In between is a date with UCF on six days rest, North Carolina and Virginia Tech as back-to-back road contests, and a late-season matchup with Notre Dame.