I continue my team by team look at each schedule in the Big East.
Up today: Rutgers.
Nonconference schedule: The big test is going on the road to play what is going to be a nationally-ranked Arkansas team. The rest of the nonconference slate is pretty weak with games against Tulane, Howard, Kent State and Army. Rutgers will be favored to win four of those five games, and should go 4-1 at the very worst.
Conference schedule: I don't think the coaches were thrilled to find out they have to go on the road to play Arkansas the week after opening up Big East play at USF. The game against the Bulls is going to be absolutely critical in terms of starting off on the right foot, especially since Rutgers is going to be one of the favorites to win the league. Then they hit the road for a much more high-profile, national opponent. The final conference stretch is also pretty tough, with games at Cincinnati, at Pitt, then home to Louisville on a short week.
Good news: However you feel about the Arkansas game, it is terrific for the Scarlet Knights to have an opportunity to play a ranked SEC school, and get the return home next year. If the game against USF is moved to Thursday night, that would give a few extra days to prepare. The bye weeks are also spaced nicely -- right after Arkansas, and right before the final four games of the season. And getting Louisville at home to close out the year on national television clearly shows the faith that the Scarlet Knights may have their best shot yet at winning that first Big East title.
Bad news: The home schedule is boorrring. Now you see why athletic director Tim Pernetti wants financial relief from losing TCU. Howard, UConn, Syracuse, Kent State, Army and Louisville all come to town. Not exactly a Murderer's Row of college football's finest. The conference scheduling gods did not do Rutgers any favors, either, with the opener at USF, and then the three-game stretch against Cincinnati, Pitt and Louisville to close the season.
Best case: Rutgers will probably be favored to start the season 8-1. If the Scarlet Knights can go 2-1 at the worst in their final three games, they finish 10-2.
Worst case: The Scarlet Knights drop back-to-back games against USF and Arkansas, go 1-2 in the final three games of the season to go 8-4 and drop another game they shouldn't to finish 7-5.