The Perfect Combo: CFB teams with the easiest schedules and most returning

UH isn’t one of those listed, but two 2017 opponents are: USF and Memphis

3. MEMPHIS

2017 FBS Schedule Rank: 123

2017 FBS Returning Starter Rank: T25

Like FIU, only three of Memphis’ 2017 opponents went over .500 last season – Navy (9-5), Houston (9-4) and Tulsa (10-3). It is even more noteworthy given the Tigers’ membership in the American Athletic, considered to be a huge step up from C-USA in difficulty.

Memphis is tied for the second-most returning starters in the American. Nine are back on an offense that finished last season ranked No. 14 in the nation in passing. It includes quarterback Riley Ferguson, who was ranked No. 11 in the FBS in both total yards and touchdowns in 2016.

2. USF

2017 FBS Schedule Rank: 124

2017 FBS Returning Starter Rank: T9

USF’s schedule is only one degree easier than fellow American member Memphis’. Where the Tigers’ 2017 slate combined for a 64-84 (42.24%) mark, the Bulls’ went 63-85 (42.57%). Both play only three squads with a winning record in 2016.

USF also returns one additional starter, earning it a tie for the most in the AAC. Of the 16, seven are back on an offensive unit that finished No. 4 in the nation in scoring.

Like Oklahoma, the Bulls also received mention in ESPN’s premature Top 25 – coming in at No. 20. They may have the best combo for success in all of college football in 2017.

And the opposite

3. EAST CAROLINA

2017 FBS Schedule Rank: 3

2017 FBS Returning Starter Rank: T103

ECU doesn’t suffer from the same level of experience depletion as others on our list, but they get hit hard on schedule strength. The Pirates’ 2017 slate went a combined 98-59 (62.42%) last season, the third-best total in the FBS ranks.

East Carolina returns 11 starters from 2016 – again, while not tragic it’s the second-fewest in the American. It also ranks in the bottom 30% in the FBS. The biggest concern is the passing game, which loses its quarterback and top two receivers. The trio led an aerial attack that ranked No. 6 in yards in the FBS last year.

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