With a college football playoff looming next season, conferences are looking into improving schedules to give their teams a higher chance of making it. Not only would it look good on the team’s resume, but the entire resume of the conference could be debated when it comes to splitting hairs in early December. The Big Ten may be looking at teams in other bigger conference, but would it be good for the Iowa State Cyclones to take another team from the same conference?
Andrew Logue of the Des Moines Register reported that Illinois may be interested in picking up a team like Iowa State in their non-conference schedule. Back in February, Big Ten teams announced that teams will no longer play FCS opponents on the schedule with an official announcement coming at the end of April.
Assuming both schools can work out a schedule, and it’s feasible, the Cyclones will be playing the Iowa Hawkeyes every year. Considering 4-8 records aren’t an every season occurrence, that already brings the strength of schedule to a high level.
But adding a team like Illinois? It’s already a tough schedule for Iowa State, asking them to work through nine Big 12 opponents featuring two Oklahoma schools and four Texas schools. Bringing in two team from the Big Ten and facing top in-state FCS school Northern Iowa is too tall of order for the Cyclones to be a contender in the conference.
Lower-level conferences like Conference USA, the MAC, or Mountain West also need exposure. They would provide a better challenge for Iowa State just so they can work up to the Big 12. There’s already a lot of respect for some of those schools.
Bringing in another team from a top conference like the Big Ten adds a more intriguing matchup, but there’s simply not enough benefits for Iowa State. Not until they can at least contend for a championship in their own conference.