One of the criticisms of the Bowl Championship Series — and there are many — is that it discourages teams from playing competitive non-conference schedules.
One loss can put a team’s national championship aspirations in jeopardy. With the notable exception of LSU in ’07, two losses can end them.
Why, then, should teams play legitimate opponents outside of conference play? In the 1990s, Kansas State would play a ridiculous collection of non-conference cupcakes yet often was in the thick of the national championship picture in November.