Adding it up
Averaging the USA Today rankings, MU's would-have-been foes averaged just better than 88th. The post-realignment schedule averages 86th, and that could go higher with 38th-or-better Tulsa.
Another way to look at it: MU's schedule gets a near-even swap by losing UTEP, Tulane and Memphis and gaining UTSA, FAU and FIU. MTSU could be clearly better than SMU; Tulsa could be a smidge better than UCF.
Southern Miss almost has to be better, UAB could very well improve, as could already-potent ECU.
So let the questions begin: Does MU's schedule look weaker, or surprisingly a bit stronger? And how will that schedule look four months from now?
And the final question: How easy will the Herd (40th USA Today, Steele's pick for America's most improved) make said schedule appear?
Reach Doug Smock at 304-348-5140, dougsm...@wvgazette.com or follow him at twitter.com/dougsmock.
WEAKER OR NOT?
Following is a comparison of Marshall's 2013 Conference USA schedule with the list of opponents from the 2009 season. Under C-USA's old scheduling rotation, MU would have played the same foes as it did in 2005 and 2009.
Rankings cited are those from USA Today's 1-through-124 list, which is still being unveiled one team at a time. Tulsa's ranking has yet to be unveiled, but will be in the top 38.
(Repeated from 2009)
At Central Florida (42)
East Carolina (50)
Southern Miss (82)
At Tulane (109)
At Texas-El Paso (112)
At Memphis (116)
"New" 2013 schedule
Oct. 5 - Texas-San Antonio (119)
Oct. 12 - at Florida Atlantic (111)
Oct. 24 - at Middle Tennessee (79)
Nov. 2 - Southern Miss (82)
Nov. 9 - UAB (91)
Nov. 14 - at Tulsa (top 38)
Nov. 23 - at Florida Int'l (118)
Nov. 29 - East Carolina (50)
Average: 86 (or lower)
NOTE: Marshall's USA Today ranking is 40.