The System: The Glory and Scandal of Big-Time College Football by Jeff Benedict and Armen Keteyian:
In the world of twenty-four-thousand-square-foot weight rooms and twenty-four-carat donors, there are few absolutes. But there is this: no mega-program can physically survive a dozen heavyweight fights a year. The players are just too young, the bodies too fragile, the depth chart too thin, to handle the load and still be fresh when it comes to crunch time late in the season. So a smart athletic director—in concert with his head coach—concocts a regular-season schedule peppered with a couple of patsies. More often than not the pain relief comes in the form of home games against lower-division opponents or “directional” schools. The various sacrificial lambs are lured to slaughter by so-called guarantees—payouts that run from a few thousand dollars to several hundred thousand or more.
Over the years these money games had served but a single purpose: the visitors take a beating, take the check and use the funds to help balance deep athletic department deficits. So if that means the Savannah States of the world become roadkill at Oklahoma State (84-0) or Florida State (55-0)—a combined score of 139-0—as they did in 2012, so be it. Or if Idaho State gets run through a 73-7 meat grinder at Nebraska, take heart in the news that the Bengals athletic department took home $600,000 for the mugging—or about 5 percent of its entire athletic department budget.