Ranking College Football's 10 Hardest Schedules, per ESPN's FPI

An early look at the most difficult schedules in college football as we approach a historic 2024 season headlined by conference realignment and an expanded playoff.
An early ranking of the most difficult schedules in college football ahead of a historic 2024 season.
An early ranking of the most difficult schedules in college football ahead of a historic 2024 season. / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

With the College Football Playoff placing more of an emphasis on playing good teams as a condition of making the postseason, putting together a quality schedule remains hugely important for teams that want to play for the national championship.

But not all schedules are created equal. And looking over the recent college football rankings and strength of schedule models revealed by ESPN's Football Power Index for the 2024 preseason, let's just say the SEC is a good place to play football if you want to be tested.

Related: College Football HQ ranks the 10 hardest schedules in 2024

Read More: ESPN reveals 2024 college football rankings

Nine out of the 10 most difficult schedules reside in that conference, and that includes the two football superpowers that will join the league in its historic realignment this season.

Ranking College Football's 10 Hardest Schedules, per ESPN's FPI

10. Texas

Texas' schedule: vs. Colorado State, at Michigan, vs. UTSA, vs. UL Monroe, vs. Mississippi State, vs. Oklahoma, vs. Georgia, at Vanderbilt, vs. Florida, at Arkansas, vs. Kentucky, at Texas A&M ... Tough road games for the Longhorns, including against college football's defending champs, but at least Georgia comes to the Forty Acres.

9. Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech's schedule: vs. Florida State, vs. Georgia St., at Syracuse, vs. VMI, at Louisville, vs. Duke, at North Carolina, vs. Notre Dame, at Virginia Tech, vs. Miami, vs. NC State, at Georgia ... Tech faces not just the class of the ACC this season, save Clemson, but also two likely highly-ranked teams in the Bulldogs and Irish.

8. Tennessee

Tennessee's schedule: vs. Chattanooga, vs. NC State, vs. Kent State, at Oklahoma, at Arkansas, vs. Florida, vs. Alabama, vs. Kentucky, vs. Mississippi State, at Georgia, vs. UTEP, at Vanderbilt ... A tough early non-con game for the Vols and their promising offense, but can the secondary hold up against a brutal midseason stretch against SEC rivals?

7. Oklahoma

Oklahoma's schedule: vs. Temple, vs. Houston, vs. Tulane, vs. Tennessee, at Auburn, vs. Texas, vs. South Carolina, at Ole Miss, vs. Maine, at Missouri, vs. Alabama, at LSU ... A tough SEC debut for the Sooners, especially in the latter half of the year including 2 out of 3 games on the road.

6. Alabama

Alabama's schedule: vs. WKU, vs. USF, at Wisconsin, vs. Georgia, at Vanderbilt, vs. South Carolina, at Tennessee, vs. Missouri, at LSU, vs. Mercer, at Oklahoma, vs. Auburn ... Kalen DeBoer's debut with the Tide features major SEC tests and a huge litmus test at home against the Bulldogs.

5. Auburn

Auburn's schedule: vs. Ala. A&M, vs. Cal, vs. New Mexico, vs. Oklahoma, at Georgia, at Missouri, at Kentucky, vs. Vanderbilt, vs. UL Monroe, vs. Texas A&M, at Alabama ... Five games at home to start out before three tough road dates and then closing against the Aggies and on the road in the Iron Bowl.

4. Kentucky

Kentucky's schedule: vs. Southern Miss, vs. South Carolina, vs. Georgia, vs. Ohio, at Ole Miss, vs. Vanderbilt, at Florida, vs. Auburn, at Tennessee, vs. Murray State, at Texas, vs. Louisville ... Two of the SEC's best teams come early on UK's schedule before dates on the road to the Gators, Vols, and Longhorns.

3. Georgia

Georgia's schedule: vs. Clemson, vs. TN Tech, at Kentucky, at Alabama, vs. Auburn, vs. Mississippi State, at Texas, vs. Florida, at Ole Miss, vs. Tennessee, vs. UMass, vs. Georgia Tech ... A much harder slate this time around for the Bulldogs, who play four tough opponents away from home, and all against likely highly-ranked opposition.

2. Mississippi State

Mississippi State's schedule: vs. Eastern Kentucky, at Arizona State, vs. Toledo, vs. Florida, at Texas, at Georgia, vs. Texas A&M, vs. Arkansas, vs. UMass, at Tennessee, vs. Missouri, at Ole Miss ... Jeff Lebby steps in as Bulldogs head coach facing a brutal second-half SEC schedule.

1. Florida

Florida's schedule: vs. Miami, vs. Samford, vs. Texas A&M, at Mississippi State, vs. UCF, at Tennessee, vs. Kentucky, vs. Georgia, at Texas, vs. LSU, vs. Ole Miss, vs. Florida State ... There isn't a tougher second-half schedule in college football than this murderer's row of games, a stiff test for head coach Billy Napier and his fragile tenure in the Swamp.

-

More college football from SI: Top 25 Rankings | Schedule | Teams

Follow College Football HQ: Bookmark | Rankings | Picks


Published
James Parks

JAMES PARKS

James Parks is the founder and publisher of College Football HQ. He previously covered football for 247Sports and CBS Interactive. College Football HQ joined the Sports Illustrated Fannation Network in 2022.