July 24, 2024
College Football’s 13 Hardest Schedules for 2023 Contenders | News, Scores, Highlights, Stats, and Rumors
Marvin Harrison Jr.

Marvin Harrison Jr. Set Number: X164268 TK1

Texas Longhorns

The Texas Longhorns finished 8-5 last season, which was an improvement from Steve Sarkisian’s 5-7 mark in 2021. The next step the Longhorns can take in 2023 is competing for a Big 12 title.

To do that, Texas will have to get through a pretty tough road schedule. The most challenging game looks like it’ll come in Week 2, when the Longhorns have to go on the road to face Alabama in Tuscaloosa on Sept. 9.

The Tide beat the Longhorns 20-19 in Austin last season, and Bama hasn’t lost a non-conference game at home since Louisiana-Monroe upset the Tide in Nick Saban’s first season at Alabama in 2007.

But the road tests don’t stop with just Alabama. Texas also has to go on the road to play Baylor on Sept. 23 and plays at new Big 12 opponent Houston on Oct. 21. Baylor has won the last two straight against Texas at home in 2019 and 2021.

In November, the Longhorns have back-to-back road trips to TCU and Iowa State. TCU beat Texas 17-10 in Austin last season, and Iowa State has won the last two games in Ames against Texas.

Ohio State Buckeyes

Ohio State made it into the playoff last year despite losing to Michigan. As it enters 2023, it’ll have to replace quarterback C.J. Stroud while navigating a tough road schedule.

The Buckeyes open the season with a Big Ten opponent on the road, playing the Indiana Hoosiers on Sept. 2. Although Indiana has had back-to-back losing seasons, opening on the road against a conference opponent is challenging for any team.

Following two home games against Youngstown State and Western Kentucky, the Buckeyes go on the road to play at Notre Dame on Sept. 23. It’ll be a matchup with playoff implications for both teams, with the Irish having the advantage of playing this one at home.

In October, Ohio State will go on the road to play Purdue. These two don’t play each other often, but the Buckeyes beat Purdue 59-31 in 2021. The last time this one was played in West Lafayette in 2018, the Boilermakers upset then-No. 2 Ohio State 49-20. The Buckeyes close out October with an Oct. 28 road trip to Wisconsin, then open November with a trip to Rutgers on Nov. 4.

Last but certainly not least, Ohio State travels to Michigan on Nov. 25. This is the Buckeyes’ most important game on the schedule each and every season, and it usually decides who wins the Big Ten East. The Wolverines have won the last two straight in this monumental rivalry. If Ohio State drops a third straight, it’ll be the first time since the mid-1990s.

LSU Tigers

LSU will look to repeat as SEC West champions in 2023, but it will have a tricky schedule for Brian Kelly’s Year 2 in Baton Rouge. It starts Week 1 against Florida State at a neutral site in Orlando, but there’s no question the Noles will have an in-state crowd advantage.

To round out September, the Tigers have to go on the road to play Mississippi State on Sept. 16 and play at Ole Miss on Sept. 30. Between the two games is a home game against Arkansas on Sept. 23. All three games are must-wins for the Tigers’ chances at repeating as division champions.

On Oct. 7, LSU travels to Missouri. This looks like a possible trap game for LSU, even though it won’t directly impact its SEC West standings too much. Missouri kept things close against Georgia last season, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Mizzou does the same against LSU.

Following two home games against Auburn and Army, LSU gets a much-needed bye on Oct. 28. Then on Nov. 4, the Tigers go on the road to play Alabama. Aside from LSU’s 2019 victory in Tuscaloosa, the last time the Tigers won at Bama came in 2011.

Texas A&M Aggies

The Aggies had an unexpected 5-7 season in 2022, the first losing season for Texas A&M since 2009. Jimbo Fisher will be eager to prove last year was just a blip, but the Aggies’ schedule might make that a bit harder to do.

In Week 2, the Aggies go on the road to play Miami. Texas A&M then has three home games against Louisiana-Monroe, Auburn and Alabama, with its annual game vs. Arkansas at AT&T Stadium on Sep. 30 wedged between its tilts against the Tigers and Crimson Tide.

The Alabama game will be tough for the Aggies, even with that game being at home. The last two games in the series have been decided by a combined seven points. After that, TAMU goes on the road to play Tennessee on Oct. 14. The Vols finished 11-2 last season, and didn’t lose a game at home in 2022.

In November, Texas A&M goes on the road to Ole Miss on Nov. 4—Rebels head coach Lane Kiffin is 2-0 against Fisher. For their last game of the season, the Aggies go on the road to play LSU.

We’ll see how Fisher’s team holds up with a difficult schedule. If TAMU has another losing season, we could see Fisher’s seat get even hotter.