Since the first Associated Press poll in 1936, no team has ever won college football's national championship with two losses.
Is that about to change?"Today, it's not how many wins and losses you have, but who you played," Texas A&M Coach Jackie Sherrill said. "I don't think we'll have any more BYUs."
Sherrill was referring to Brigham Young's much-maligned 1984 schedule, the reason the Cougars were not unanimous as national champions despite a 13-0-0 record.
Soft schedules - and BYU was locked that year into eight supposedly soft games against fellow members of the Western Athletic Conference - may be going the way of the flying wedge. Few of the nation's top teams are even guaranteed of getting through this September with a perfect record.
"A lot of it is because of TV moving games," Sherrill said. "You don't see a bad game on TV any more."
CBS will start the season with the Florida State-Miami, Fla. game on Sept. 3. Miami won the 1987 national championship, Florida State finished second and both teams are expected to contend again. The original schedule had them playing on Oct. 29.
"This game is a natural with Florida State being picked so high (in the summer college football annuals)," Miami Coach Jimmy Johnson said. "And even before the publications came out, everyone knew they'd be one of the top teams in the country.
"It's a great scenario with us being the defending national champions, them being a high preseason pick and us playng a great game a year ago (Miami won 26-25)."
Not only must Miami open with its toughest opponent from 1987, the Hurricanes' second game is at perennial Big Ten power Michigan. Florida State has it just as tough. The Seminoles' third game is a visit to Atlantic Coast Conference champion Clemson, followed by a home game with Big Ten champ Michigan State. A 1-3 start isn't out of the question.
Oklahoma, which beat up on North Texas, North Carolina and Tulsa last September en route to an eventual No. 3 national ranking, has a different September song this time - North Carolina, Arizona and Southern Cal.
Syracuse, last year's fourth-ranked team, takes a September trip to Ohio State. And whoever drew up fifth-ranked LSU's schedule must secretly worship the Marquis de Sade. The Tigers' September slate consists of Texas A&M, Tennessee and Ohio State. For good measure, they begin October with Florida and Auburn. Only the A&M and Auburn games are at home.
Whatever happened to the days when Red Blaik's Army powerhouses opened with the likes of The Citadel, Lafayette, Villanova (five times), Davidson, Colgate, Furman (twice) and VMI? Blaik's opening-game record was 16-2, with 11 shutouts, including an 81-0 rout of Furman in 1955.
There still are some "patsy" openers - Arkansas-Pacific, Florida-Montana State, Georgia Tech vs. Tennessee-Chattanooga, Houston-Louisiana Tech, Mississippi State-Louisiana Tech, Navy-James Madison, Oklahoma State-Miami, O., Pitt-Northern Iowa, Southern Mississippi-Stephen F. Austin, Texas-El Paso vs. Mankato State.
Among those teams that figure to be highly ranked, the following can be reasonably confident of taking an unblemished record into October: Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Penn State.