The College Football Playoff Selection Committee considers strength of schedule to be a significant factor iin the creation of its rankings, which determine the participants in the playoffs. Sometimes the difference between teams is how they scheduled outside their leagues. For example, Baylor Bears was left out of the first College Football Playoff in 2014 mostly because of a terrible nonconference schedule.

With that in mind, here is a conference-by-conference breakdown of this season’s nonconference schedules of the teams in the Power Five conferences. An overall ranking of the top 10 nonconference schedules can be found at the end.

Big Ten

The Big Ten has not been able to dethrone the SEC on the field, but there is one area of SEC dominance that now belongs to the Big Ten – scheduling home nonconference games. No league schedules more home nonconference games year in and year out than the SEC, and it’s rarely close, but this season, the Big Ten will play a whopping 81 percent of its 42 nonconference games at home. And that doesn’t count the LSU-Wisconsin game in Green Bay, which is considered neutral. Beginning with this season, Big Ten teams are playing one fewer nonconference game, and it appears that most teams cut road games.

You really can’t blame teams like Purdue Boilermakers and Illinois Fighting Illini for scheduling only home games. They need any advantage they can get. But what’s your excuse, Michigan Wolverines ? You too, Iowa Hawkeyes . Not only are the Hawkeyes playing only home games, but their toughest foe may be five-time defending FCS champion North Dakota State. In fact, the Bison are arguably better than any of the nonconference opponents of Indiana Hoosiers , Maryland

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