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Counting Down The Top 10 Easiest 2014 Schedules For 'Power 5' CFB Schools

College football schedule-making, even before the BCS era, was always complex. Schools, when filling out the non-conference portion of their slates, do their best to put together a combination of winnable games and challenges. But because contests are often scheduled so far ahead of time, it's sometimes hard to predict whether an opponent will be up or down by the time the game rolls around.

There's also the conference schedule, which depending upon your league and the way the scheduling system works, can vary greatly from season to season. For the Big 12, which has 10 teams and forces every team to play each other, it's not much of an issue. But for a league like the SEC, which has 14 teams and an eight-game schedule, it can be a bit tricky.

Sometimes, your favorite team winds up playing a hellacious schedule, even if it wasn't looking that difficult on paper a few years before. Other times, it's the complete opposite. We've put together the 10 easiest schedules for teams in the power five conferences - the ACC, Big 12, Big Ten, SEC and Pac-12. A few teams on the list might even compete for a national title.

Next: No. 10 - Alabama >>>

10) Alabama

This needs a quick disclaimer: Alabama is so good and so well coached that no matter who it plays, its schedule would be considered "easy." This year's schedule also features three marquee matchups: Texas A&M, LSU and Auburn. However, outside of those three games, the Crimson Tide's schedule is actually pretty easy.

Among teams in power five conferences, the only team with an easier schedule based on its opponents' records from last year is the No. 1 team on this list. Alabama's 2014 opponents went 71-79 in 2013. Alabama's non-conference schedule shouldn't pose too many issues, its SEC road games are against less talented teams (except for arguably LSU), and its two toughest games are at home.

Aug. 30 vs. West Virginia in Atlanta
Sept. 6 vs. Florida Atlantic
Sept. 13 vs. Southern Miss
Sept. 20 vs. Florida
Oct. 4 @ Ole Miss
Oct. 11 @ Arkansas
Oct. 18 vs. Texas A&M
Oct. 25 @ Tennessee
Nov. 8 @ LSU
Nov. 15 vs. Mississippi State
Nov. 22 vs. Western Carolina
Nov. 29 vs. Auburn

Next: No. 9 - Colorado >>>

9) Colorado

It's been a rough go lately for the Buffaloes. While it'd be surprising to see them suddenly become a powerhouse program again, they should be able to navigate a tough-but-by-no-means-impossible schedule. Colorado's games against Oregon, UCLA and USC will all be losses, barring something wacky happening, but its non-conference schedule isn't too rough, nor is its conference schedule, outside of the three aforementioned games.

Given the team's lack of talent, nobody expects Colorado to do much of anything, but Mike MacIntyre's bunch has a favorable schedule and could get a surprise win or two.

Aug. 29 vs. Colorado State in Denver
Sept. 6 @ Massachusetts
Sept. 13 vs. Arizona State
Sept. 20 vs. Hawaii
Sept. 27 @ California
Oct. 4 vs. Oregon State
Oct. 18 @ USC
Oct. 25 vs. UCLA
Nov. 1 vs. Washington
Nov. 8 @ Arizona
Nov. 22 @ Oregon
Nov. 29 vs. Utah

Next: No. 8 - Vanderbilt >>>

8) Vanderbilt

This is going to be a tough year for Vanderbilt, as the team lost former coach James Franklin to Penn State and star wide receiver Jordan Matthews to the NFL. One thing that will help new head coach Derek Mason's Commodores is that their schedule sets up rather favorably.

While Vandy's SEC slate is tough, it's not impossible, as the team avoids Alabama, Auburn, LSU and Texas A&M. Its four out-of-conference games should be a cakewalk, as all four are at home against sub-par FBS opponents.

Aug. 28 vs. Temple
Sept. 6 vs. Ole Miss
Sept. 13 vs. Massachusetts
Sept. 20 vs. South Carolina
Sept. 27 @ Kentucky
Oct. 4 @ Georgia
Oct. 11 vs. Charleston Southern
Oct. 25 @ Missouri
Nov. 1 v. Old Dominion
Nov. 8 vs. Florida
Nov. 22 @ Mississippi State
Nov. 29 vs. Tennessee

Next: No. 7 - Oklahoma >>>

7) Oklahoma

The Sooners are so talented that they would be expected to roll over almost anyone en route to a Big 12 title and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Fortunately for Oklahoma fans, the team has a very manageable schedule and really only has to worry about a few specific matchups in 2014.

There are three games that are going to be huge challenges for the Sooners: Baylor, Oklahoma State and Texas. Oklahoma will host the Bears and the Cowboys, and its yearly showdown with the Longhorns is on a neutral field. Beyond that, the team has a favorable conference schedule and a relatively easy non-conference slate.

Aug. 23 vs. Louisiana Tech
Sept. 6 @ Tulsa
Sept. 13 vs. Tennessee
Sept. 20 @ West Virginia
Oct. 4 @ TCU
Oct. 11 vs. Texas in Dallas
Oct. 18 vs. Kansas State
Nov. 1 @ Iowa State
Nov. 8 vs. Baylor
Nov. 15 @ Texas Tech
Nov. 22 vs. Kansas
Dec. 6 vs. Oklahoma State

Next: No. 6 - Nebraska >>>

6) Nebraska

There are two games on Nebraska's schedule that are brutal: a trip to East Lansing to take on Michigan State, and a matchup in Madison with Wisconsin. There are also a few difficult-but-winnable ones -- like a home game against Miami and a trip to Iowa to close the season -- and a bevy of games that the Huskers should absolutely win.

Aside from the game against Miami, Nebraska has an easy non-conference schedule, and it would be surprising if the Huskers weren't undefeated by the time they play Michigan State.

Aug. 30 vs. Florida Atlantic
Sept. 6 vs. McNeese State
Sept. 13 @ Fresno State
Sept. 20 vs. Miami
Sept. 27 vs. Illinois
Oct. 4 @ Michigan State
Oct. 18 @ Northwestern
Oct. 25 vs. Rutgers
Nov. 1 vs. Purdue
Nov. 15 @ Wisconsin
Nov. 22 vs. Minnesota
Nov. 28 @ Iowa

Next: No. 5 - Wisconsin >>>

5) Wisconsin

Wisconsin's season starts with a monster game against LSU in Houston, which should be an all-out war and one of the most hotly contested games of the college football season. Other than that, there aren't any games until the Badgers' late season matchup with Nebraska where Wisconsin won't be expected to win.

Following up the Nebraska game with a trip to Iowa City to take on the Hawkeyes will be tricky, but Melvin Gordon and the rest of the Badgers should be favored to win the contest. Of course, if they do run the table in the Big Ten, they'll have to win the league's title game to have a shot at playing in the inaugural playoff.

Aug. 30 vs. LSU in Houston
Sept. 6 vs. Western Illinois
Sept. 20 vs. Bowling Green
Sept. 27 vs. South Florida
Oct. 4 @ Northwestern
Oct. 11 vs. Illinois
Oct. 25 vs. Maryland
Nov. 1 @ Rutgers
Nov. 8 @ Purdue
Nov. 15 vs. Nebraska
Nov. 22 @ Iowa
Nov. 29 vs. Minnesota

Next: No. 4 - Virginia Tech >>>

4) Virginia Tech

The Hokies have an early season showdown in Columbus with Ohio State, but still, the schedule sets up in such a way that Frank Beamer could look at another season with double-digit wins. The team does have one tough stretch during conference play when four of its six contests are on the road, including a showdown at home against Miami thrown in the middle, but the team avoids Clemson and Florida State.

It also plays an FCS opponent (William & Mary) and a pretty bad Western Michigan team in the non-conference, and it would be shocking if the Hokies don't win both games.

Aug. 30 vs. William & Mary
Sept. 6 @ Ohio State
Sept. 13 vs. East Carolina
Sept. 20 vs. Georgia Tech
Sept. 27 vs. Western Michigan
Oct. 4 @ North Carolina
Oct. 16 @ Pittsburgh
Oct. 23 vs. Miami
Nov. 1 vs. Boston College
Nov. 15 @ Duke
Nov. 22 @ Wake Forest
Nov. 28 vs.Virginia

Next: No. 3 - NC State >>>

3) NC State

While NC State will likely struggle in year two of the Dave Doeren era, it may get a few wins with some help from the schedule makers. The Wolfpack will play two FCS teams and an Old Dominion side that is in its first year in the FBS during its out of conference schedule.

In the ACC, NC State has a brutal back-to-back of Florida State and a trip to Clemson, but other than that, it's not too bad. It will still be an uphill battle, as NC State just isn't talented enough to be competitive on a weekly basis, but it should improve on last year's 3-9 mark.

Aug. 30 vs. Georgia Southern
Sept. 6 vs. Old Dominion
Sept. 13 @ South Florida
Sept. 20 vs. Presbyterian
Sept. 27 vs. Florida State
Oct. 4 @ Clemson
Oct. 11 vs. Boston College
Oct. 18 @ Louisville
Nov. 1 @ Syracuse
Nov. 8 vs. Georgia Tech
Nov. 15 vs. Wake Forest
Nov. 29 @ North Carolina

Next: No. 2 - Iowa >>>

2) Iowa

The bad news for Iowa is that its final two games of the season -- home against Wisconsin and Nebraska -- are tough. The good news for Iowa is that there is a real possibility that the team is 10-0 heading into that game. No, like really.

The Hawkeyes managed to avoid Ohio State, Michigan State, Michigan and Penn State this year, and their non-conference is rather easy, even with a game against a tricky Ball State team early in the season.

Aug. 30 vs. Northern Iowa
Sept. 6 vs. Ball State
Sept. 13 vs. Iowa State
Sept. 20 @ Pittsburgh
Sept. 27 @ Purdue
Oct. 11 vs. Indiana
Oct. 18 @ Maryland
Nov. 1 vs. Northwestern
Nov. 8 @ Minnesota
Nov. 15 @ Illinois
Nov. 22 vs. Wisconsin
Nov. 28 vs. Nebraska

Next: No. 1 - ??? >>>

1) Duke

Duke's schedule is incredibly easy. If Duke's basketball team had a schedule similar to this, it would be expected to go undefeated - at least during the regular season. The Blue Devils managed to avoid Florida State and Clemson, and their toughest ACC game is a trip to Miami.

Their non-conference slate - Elon, Troy, Kansas and Tulane - is also incredibly easy. Last year, Duke was one of the best stories in America, and fortunately for David Cutcliffe's Blue Devils, their schedule sets up in a way that 2014 can be just as special.

Aug. 30 vs. Elon
Sept. 6 @ Troy
Sept. 13 vs. Kansas
Sept. 20 vs. Tulane
Sept. 27 @ Miami
Oct. 11 @ Georgia Tech
Oct. 18 vs. Virginia
Nov. 1 @ Pittsburgh
Nov. 8 @ Syracuse
Nov. 15 vs. Virginia Tech
Nov. 20 vs. North Carolina
Nov. 29 vs. Wake Forest

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