Some teams are simply doomed from the start, stuck with schedules that give them no hope of having a good season.
Those rough roads do give a rare perspective on the national championship chase. If the coaches of these teams don’t have votes in the USA Today poll, they probably should.
Here are six teams that have already run the gantlet:
San Jose St. (1-6)
The Spartans have played two FCS teams and only managed to beat one, spending the rest of the season getting batted around the Top 25. The nonconference slate was No. 7 Alabama, No. 10 Wisconsin and No. 9 Utah. When they finally got into Western Athletic Conference games, the first two were against Nevada, ranked No. 21 at the time, and No. 2 Boise State. The final tally: Bullies 214, Spartans 33.
Part of the plight of playing in the Mountain West Conference is this nasty combination: Because the league doesn’t have an automatic BCS bid and the loot that comes with it, members must play powerful nonconference opponents to generate revenue. The result is Wyoming played Texas and Boise State back-to- back in September, then No. 4 TCU and Utah in consecutive weeks in October.
Who doesn’t like a road trip to Las Vegas? Wisconsin started its season at UNLV with a 41-21 victory. The Rebels got into Mountain West Conference play early with a trip to Utah. October started with the traditional in-state rivalry game against Nevada, which was followed by a trip to West Virginia. Still to come, TCU.
Brigham Young (2-5)
The Cougars often schedule ambitiously, which becomes a problem in a rebuilding year such as this. The nonconference slate this season had Washington, No. 16 Florida State and Nevada. During the first seven weeks of the season, the Cougars have played only one team with a losing record – and lost that game at Utah State.
Iowa St. (3-4)
The Cyclones can’t avoid playing rival and 13th-ranked Iowa, but how could they have known that bringing Utah to Ames would have been so perilous? Final score: Utes 68, Cyclones 27. The next week, the ’Clones traveled to No. 3 Oklahoma and lost 52-0. Coming up, Texas this week, with Nebraska and Missouri down the road.
Washington St. (1-6)
When it comes to programs in BCS automatic-qualifying conferences, Washington State has been about as bad as it gets in recent years. The Cougars have been more competitive this season, though their only victory is against FCS Montana State. Nonconference road trips to Oklahoma State and SMU ended as expected: two losses and a combined score of 100-38. Since Pac-10 play started for the Cougars, they’ve faced USC, UCLA, No. 1 Oregon and No. 15 Arizona. This week: No. 12 Stanford.