The Associated Press released its annual preseason poll on Aug. 19. No. 1 Clemson will only play two teams ranked in the AP Top 25, and No. 2 Alabama has three such teams on its schedule. Other teams aren’t so lucky. Here’s a ranking of the toughest schedules among teams in the preseason AP Top 10.
The Wolverines have their work cut out for them. They will face six preseason AP Top 25 teams plus Army, who won 11 games and forced Oklahoma into overtime last season. The worst of the Wolverines’ 2019 schedule is in late October when they face Penn State and Notre Dame in back-to-back weeks. No. 7 Michigan will also play host to No. 5 Ohio State, a team head coach Jim Harbaugh has yet to defeat in his four seasons at Michigan.
Besides a game against Texas, No. 6 LSU should be heavily favored in each of its first five games. Past those first five contests, the remainder of the Tigers’ schedule is brutal. With AP Top 25 teams such as Florida, Auburn, Alabama and Texas A&M on the list, it’s unlikely that LSU can finish the season unscathed.
3. Ohio State
The Buckeyes will face five preseason top-25 teams this year. Nebraska, who finished 4-8 last season, could be 4-0 by the time No. 5 Ohio State comes knocking on its door in week four. Ohio State’s playoff potential will be defined in the last two weeks of the regular season. With a home game against Penn State followed by an away game against Michigan, former Georgia quarterback Justin Fields and the rest of the Buckeyes will have their hands full.
In one of its hardest games all year, No. 3 Georgia will host Notre Dame four weeks into the season. The Bulldogs defeated the Fighting Irish by one point in their road matchup two seasons ago, but this year could be a different story. Later in the season, Georgia’s game in Auburn will be sandwiched between Missouri and Texas A&M — neither of which will be easy opponents. Last season, Georgia lost one regular season game against LSU before losing to Alabama in the SEC championship.
5. Notre Dame
It won’t be easy for the Fighting Irish to defend its unbeaten regular season in 2018. The team’s three toughest games will come on the road against Georgia, Michigan and Stanford, all preseason top-25 teams. Notre Dame’s home maup against Virginia won’t be a gimme either. Texas could arguably be put in the fifth spot with games against LSU, Oklahoma and Iowa State. However, the game against Oklahoma will be played in neutral territory and the matchup against the Cyclones is its only road game against a preseason top-25 team.