The Big East and UC released their football schedule this afternoon. In case you haven't seen it yet, here's the breakdown:
- Sat. Aug. 31: PURDUE
- Sat. Sept. 7: at Illinois
- Sat. Sept. 14: NORTHWESTERN STATE (La.)
- Sat. Sept. 21: at Miami (Ohio)
- Sat. Oct. 5: at South Florida
- Fri. Oct. 11: TEMPLE (ESPN/ESPN2)
- Sat. Oct. 19: CONNECTICUT
- Wed. Oct. 30: at Memphis (8 p.m., ESPN2)
- Sat. Nov. 9: SMU
- Sat. Nov. 16: at Rutgers
- Sat. Nov. 23: at Houston
- Thu. Dec. 5: LOUISVILLE (7:30 p.m., ESPN)
Three observations regarding the schedule:
1) Obviously, a wide variety of days of the week for the game. Luckily no Tuesday games, so #MACtion still has that market cornered. UC will play a game on Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday this year. Of course, last year they played on each of those days except for the rare Wednesday game.
It's rare even within the Big East this year, UC at Memphis is the only Wednesday game for a Big East team all year. While far from ideal, it's actually not a bad deal because it comes around a bye week, so Tommy Tuberville will have a week-and-a-half to prepare for both Memphis and the next week at home against SMU.
2) He'll also have two weeks to prepare for what could be the game of the year in the Big East, hosting Louisville on Thursday to close the regular season. Three of the last four years the Big East title has come down to a game the final week of the season and there's a chance this could be the latest incarnation.
Louisville will be the unanimous favorite to win the league, but a UC team returning its quarterback, all five starters on the offensive line and playmaker Ralph David Abernathy IV shouldn't be far behind.
Plus, UC-Louisville in what could be the final Keg Of Nails game for a while, will be the best rivalry games this conference owns next season. Understand, there's a reason the conference put the KON in that slot.
3) I'd argue the four toughest games of the season come at the beginning and end of the season. As was already know, the first two weeks of non-conference play were going to be more difficult. Starting with a B1G doubleheader home against Purdue and at Illinois.
Of course, Illinois was 2-10 last season and didn't beat a single BCS conference team. Their only wins came against Western Michigan and Charleston Southern. They nearly beat Purdue, who finished 6-7 overall and 3-5 in conference.
Two close the season, games against the conference's top two teams last year, Rutgers and Louisville, sandwich a trip to Houston. Those should be the two most anticipated games of the conference season. That leaves a very winnable seven-game stretch in the middle of the season where UC could make a name for themselves with an early B1G sweep.
I want to hear from you! Send any questions, comments or your own schedule observations to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Twitter @pauldehnerjr.