Which team has the harder schedule in 2018? Ohio State or Alabama?
This past season, the final College Football Playoff spot came down to two power programs - one-loss Alabama and two-loss Ohio State. The Crimson Tide didn't win the SEC, but had only suffered a loss to rival Auburn on the road late in the season. The Buckeyes did win the Big Ten, but an ugly loss to Iowa made many question whether they were championship-caliber.
Obviously, the committee's actions were a big deal. The Crimson Tide was given the No. 4 spot and used it to eventually claim another national title. Ohio State wound up No. 5. The Buckeyes took care of USC in the Cotton Bowl, but fell short of the ultimate prize.
Scheduling matters a great deal in college football. One could argue that Ohio State got in the College Football Playoff in 2016 because it beat Oklahoma on the road. One could argue that it didn't in 2017 because it lost to Oklahoma at home.
Let's take a look at how the schedules stack up for the Buckeyes and the Crimson Tide next season. Both squads could be featuring new quarterbacks. J.T. Barrett has graduated at Ohio State, while Tua Tagovailoa may have taken over the starting spot from Jalen Hurts in the national title game.
Ohio State Opponent
at Ole Miss
at Penn State
at Michigan State
Alabama's schedule gets off to a more difficult start - as the Crimson Tide will have to take on a decent ACC program in Louisville in Orlando. The Buckeyes get Oregon State at home - they should roll.
Ohio State's big non-con game next year comes against TCU down in Texas. It's probably the hardest non-con game that either of the schools will play.
Alabama, per usual, will play eight SEC games and four non-con games. Their non-cons are a little lacking in 2018 - Louisville (neutral), Arkansas State, UL-Lafayette and The Citadel.
Ohio State will get nine Big Ten games, Pac-12 foe Oregon State, Big 12 program TCU and Tulane. The Buckeyes clearly have a worse schedule out of conference.
Alabama also avoids both Georgia and Florida from the SEC East next year. Ohio State avoids Wisconsin.
The verdict? Ohio State's schedule is probably harder. The Buckeyes have to take on TCU, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State and a potentially revived Nebraska team. Alabama has some decent matchups against Auburn, Texas A&M, Louisville and LSU, but it seems easier to navigate.