Idaho State Waters Down NU Schedule
By most any measure, Nebraska will play one of the tougher schedules in the country in 2012. Still, the Huskers aren't getting a ton of attention for their schedule nationally, and it's not hard to figure out why. Facing Michigan, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, Michigan State, Iowa and Northwestern is as tough an in-conference draw as you can get outside the SEC. While not household names, Arkansas State and Southern Mississippi are about as much competition as you can find outside a BCS conference. UCLA may not be the toughest out in the Pac-12, but they do have talent and get to play at home. But throw in Idaho State and all of a sudden a strong schedule looks a whole lot weaker. That's right Minnesota, it's not your fault.
The NCAA ranks strength of schedule simply on the basis of wins and losses. Playing a good FCS school doesn't hurt you in that ranking. Too bad Idaho State is not a good FCS school. They've won just three games in two years. You wonder if some high schools in Texas might take them to the woodshed. So certainly, NU should gain no status for playing ISU. Still, the Huskers are 14th nationally in those rankings and tops in the Big Ten.
Phil Steele does his own strength of schedule rankings, intending to factor in both that FBS schools are usually better than FCS squads, that some teams will be much better than they were a year ago (and some much worse), and the fact that road games are tougher to win than home games. In his rankings, Nebraska is 25th in strength of schedule. You can imagine how much better things might look if instead of ISU the Huskers were playing a lower tier FBS school like Utah State that went 7-6 a year ago. Who ever thought Utah State could boost your strength of schedule?
So maybe NU won't face a murderer's row top to bottom. Maybe Nebraska's contest against Idaho State will resemble Billy Madison playing dodge ball. The Husker schedule still provides plenty of challenges, even with an extra bye week built in.