7 min read

Winning Your Schedule

Winning Your Schedule

Every team in the MCLA has different goals for a season. For some teams, the goal is simply to have enough guys to finish the season without a forfeit. Some teams are looking to clear the hurdle of getting a bid to the National Tournament for the first time, and a minority of teams have their eyes set on winning a National Championship.

Depending on what your goal is, part of a coach's job is to build a schedule that will give you the best chance at reaching your goal.

If you are trying to get to Round Rock for the first time, that might not mean loading your schedule with top tier teams. You want a schedule that will get you enough wins to be well over .500 with a few midrange to top 10 teams sprinkled in. With the right schedule, you can be in a good spot to win an At-Large bid.

Some examples of teams this year that I think fit this schedule mold are UCSB, Florida State, Arizona State, Tennessee and a few others.

If your goal is to win the tournament the odds would say your best bet is to enter the tournament as a top 3 seed. In order to pull that off, you not only need to win almost every game, you need enough meat on your schedule to give the selection committee a reason to put you in the top spot.

Virginia Tech fits that mold this year. Based on the most recent poll Virginia Tech has played 2 Top 5 teams, 2 6-10 teams, 1 11-15 team, and 5 16-25 teams for a a total of 10 ranked games. East Carolina stands as their lone game against a non-ranked opponent.

This is sometimes more of an art than a science. Before the season you may line up what you believe is the perfect schedule only to have teams you expected to be top 10 drop all the way out of the rankings.

For example, Georgia ended up on the schedule of a lot of teams with tournament aspirations this year. They checked in at #5 in the preseason poll. They are currently unranked.

Boston College was Pre-season #9. They are now unranked.

Again, it's an art. Art with a little bit of luck.

When I put Virginia Tech at #1 in my poll it's not just because they've won most of their games, but they won their scheduling by a mile. No other contender has a schedule close to what the Hokies have put together.

This weekend they added wins over #5 Chapman (by 8) and #2 Utah Valley (by 7). They've atoned for the loss at Colorado.

The team that will likely be pushing them for number 1, BYU, beat unranked Boise State (by 10) and #21 Simon Fraser (by 5).

So let's dive into how I sorted out my ballot.

#1 Virginia Tech

No surprise here. I had them at #1 before they demolished 2 top 5 teams.

#2 BYU

They remain undefeated after a trip to Boise to take on Boise State and Simon Fraser. The Red Leafs stayed close with the Cougars heading into the 4th quarter down by 1, but BYU finished strong with a 4-0 4th quarter to bury SFU.

BYU's potential SOS took a hard hit this weekend with CU and UVU both dropping games. Their margin for error is pretty thin to stay a Top 4 team. The good news is, so far they haven't needed that margin.

#3 Texas

Texas easily dispatched Oregon 21-11. In what will likely be their last ranked game of the season, the Longhorns used a strong 1st and 3rd quarter to pull away from the Ducks to pick up their third straight ranked win.

Looking at the rest of their schedule, it's tempting to say Texas is a lock for Round Rock. One loss would hurt, but a loss to SMU probably keeps them in position for an AL bid.

#4 Chapman

UVU beats Chapam
Liberty beats UVU
Chapman beats Liberty

Those 3 teams were pretty tough to sort out this week, but I put Chapman at the top of the pile. Obviously, head-to-head comparison won't work to figure this out, so they stay ahead of UVU despite losing to the Wolverines.

Chapman has wins over #8, 11, 13, 18, 19, 24.

The Liberty win lets them have a top-tier quality win to hang their hat on, but with UVU dropping a bit, that loss will feel a bit worse.

#5 San Diego State

San Diego State is quietly wrecking everyone they play. Nobody is talking about them because they haven't played a ranked team since February 3rd (UCSB).

That changes this weekend as the Aztecs host Grand Canyon and #17 Arizona State. After the GCU game, every opponent on their schedule is ranked currently. We'll be talking about them more in the coming weeks, but I'm giving them a bump into the top 5 as a nod to their consistency and margin of victory for a kind of weak schedule so far.

#6 Utah Valley

UVU had a rough trip to the East Coast, and they dropped several spots because of it. The Liberty game stings for the Wolverines. UVU was ahead by as much as 6 before the Flames mounted a second-half comeback to steal the game from UVU.

Two days later they ran into the Virginia Tech buzzsaw. Technically the game was an "upset" as the #4 Hokies won by 7.

The trip marked the end of out-of-conference play for the Wolverines. They now set their sights on Colorado and CSU before a regular-season finale against BYU.

#7 Liberty

It's probably too much to say that the UVU win saved their chances at an At-Large bid, but it felt like a split this weekend was a must. They pulled it off with their come-from-behind victory over Utah Valley.

A win against Chapman would have vaulted the Flames into the Top 5, but they weren't able to hold the Panthers in check in the second half.

With games against Clemson and James Madison left on their schedule, they probably won't have a chance to make a huge splash until the ALC conference tournament, but they've set themselves up nicely if they can pull off the improbable upset over the Hokies. A top 4 seed wouldn't be out of the question.

#8 South Carolina

Not much to add from last week here. They smoked Alabama 12-3. Still better than their ranking, in my opinion.


The Gauchos went to Colorado and won at least 1 game. By the time you are reading this they may have beat Colorado State (which would keep them right here) or lost (and would, obviously, drop).

The Colorado win gives the Gauchos 2 top top-15 wins, which sets their floor pretty high. The Cal Poly game in a few weeks got a lot more interesting after the Mustangs upset Cal last week.

With some losses in front of them, they could end up in the top half the bracket for Round Rock if they can win out.

#10 Georgia Tech

Georgia Tech was idle this week. Not much to add from last week.

#11 Colorado

Not a huge drop for the Buffalos, which is expected, losing to a team ranked 1 spot above you.

The Buffs have the best win in the MCLA this year, but they need more to solidify an At-Large resume. Right now they are teetering on the edge of .500 with a 4-3 record. They need some wins in conference play.

#12 James Madison

I have to admit, I'm not a believer in the Dukes. I called out that West Virginia might be a closer game for JMU, but it wasn't. They easily defeated the Mountaineers. With a single loss against Virginia Tech, there really isn't anything to say we shouldn't have them Top 15. With Georgia making a comeback after defeating Tennessee this weekend they may end up with a second-ranked win, but 12 feels too high for who I think they are.

They have a chance against Liberty to prove me wrong.

#13 California

Cal picked up a conference win over Nevada. Not much to write about for the Bears this week.

#14 Tennessee

The Volunteers climbed the polls on the back of an undefeated season. Their winning streak was spoiled on a rainy day in Knoxville to Georgia. I think poll voters were reluctant to move the Volunteers up and are going to be quick to drop them down. I don't know if that's totally fair, but losing to Georgia by NINE doesn't inspire a ton of confidence moving forward.

#15 Florida State

FSU beat South Florida 17-4. Not much to learn there yet, but still in striking position for an At-Large come May.

#16 Arizona State

Idle this week. A lot of opportunity for ASU to climb in conference play. Chapman and SDSU on back-to-back days is going to be a tough test for the Sun Devils.

#17 Florida

Florida picked up their first top 25 win with a 5-goal win over Auburn. Georgia winning should also help boost their resume. They also clawed their way back to .500

#18 Simon Fraser

The Red Leafs went 2-1 on their Boise trip, taking down Utah and Boise State while hanging tight with BYU for most of the game.

They should climb an extra spot in the poll for this tweet.

#19 Cal Poly
#20 Auburn

Auburn had a chance to solidify themselves in the top 20 against Florida, but they weren't able to pull off the win. I don't know that they will drop a lot, but they also probably won't climb.

#21 Oregon

Oregon needed to at least play Texas tight. Their schedule has been weak to this point, and it's not getting much tougher. It looks like the PNCLL is going to be a 1 bid conference.

#22 Northeastern
#23 Arizona
#24 Indiana
#25 Georgia

Welcome back to the Top 25, Georgia. It feels strange to have them right next to undefeated Indiana, but they've played a tough schedule, and they are one of the few teams this low with a Top 15 win now.