This probably won’t shock a single one of you, but there’s a pretty obvious trend that’s developed over the past twenty years in college football – top-25 teams don’t play each other as much as they used to. Two reasons for that:
… The primary reason for the decline has been conference expansion. In 1989, 25 teams were independent, including AP final Nos. 1, 2 and 3 and six of the top-25 overall. In 2009, only 3 FBS teams were independent, none of which were ranked. Additionally, there were 94 FBS vs. FCS games played last year, 17 involving AP top-25 teams. Only 50 such games were played in 1989, two by AP top-25 teams.
Translated, that means given a choice between a more competitive non-conference game and the chance to make more money by avoiding home-and-home deals, ADs have chosen the latter more and more frequently. Like I said, I doubt that’s much of a surprise to anyone.
(h/t Brian Cook)