|Daily Blog • Friday, March 30th|
The MAC officially announced their 2012 schedules yesterday which now completes the 2012 schedules for all the 124 FBS teams. You can find your favorites team's schedule here. Immediately I wanted to get a calculation on who plays the toughest schedule according to last year's win/loss records which is the way the NCAA figures who will play the toughest schedule in 2012. This is NOT my method and the NCAA will probably officially release these calculations in a week or two but I wanted to get a jump start on the information.
At the beginning of the season, the NCAA usually releases a rating of each team’s schedule based on their opponents’ win/loss record from the previous season, This is a good method but it does have its obvious flaws.
The first flaw is basing the ratings on opponents records from the previous season. Let’s look at a couple of examples. At the start of 2007 I had Illinois rated as one of the top teams in the Big Ten and they went on to knock off #1 Ohio St and play in the ROSE Bowl. My ratings had them as an above avg opponent at the start of the year and they finished the regular season #13 (AP). Using 2006’s record as the criteria for determining the strength of an opponent’s schedule, however, you would count them as a 2-10 team! In 2008, I had teams like Ole Miss and Minnesota on my Most Improved Teams List meaning I thought they were bowl caliber but using the previous year’s record you would have counted them as 3-9 and 1-11 teams (both made bowls, Ole Miss finished #14). On the flip side of the coin, Notre Dame was in an obvious rebuilding year in ’07 yet was still counted as a 10-3 team if you based strength of schedule on 2006’s record and they were far from a January bowl team in 2007 at just 3-9!
The second flaw is basing it on pure overall records. If a team plays an FCS (IAA) school that was 11-1 in 2007, that counts as a MUCH tougher game in the NCAA ratings than facing a team like Alabama who was 7-6 in ‘07 but #1 at the end of ‘08 regular season! My ratings had Bama ranked as a much tougher team than any FCS foe. To give you an example from 2002, my ratings foresaw that teams playing Kansas St were facing a Top 10 team based on my preseason ratings. The NCAA strength of schedule ranking rated a game against Kansas St as just a game vs a 6-6 opp (2001 record). Kanas St finished #7 AP for 2002 and walloped their opp’s by an avg of 45-12, not exactly numbers from a typical middle-of-the-road opponent.
On the flip side let’s look at 2009’s Ball St team. They were in an obvious rebuilding year and my power ratings had them only winning 2 or 3 games. My methods gave teams credit for a weak foe when facing Ball St but basing it on the previous year’s record, teams were given credit for playing a 12-2 team which is what they finished in 2008! That is a MAJOR flaw!
Here are the NCAA rankings for 2012’s Opponent Winning % which I am proud to say have not yet been released.
NCAA Method (Opponent Win %)
Plyd in Bowls
|84||SAN JOSE ST||72||75||48.98%||5||5|
|93||NEW MEXICO ST||70||77||47.62%||5||5|
|117||SAN DIEGO ST||66||84||44.00%||5||5|
According to this method Texas A&M will play the toughest schedule in the country this year as they jump to the SEC with games against LSU and Alabama. Also keep in mind they play FCS Sam Houston St who went 14-1 last year which helps their win % here. The Big 12 adds two teams in TCU and West Virginia who both won at least 10 games last year which helped the conference place five teams in the top 10 as they will play all nine conference opponents. Finally, Notre Dame has a daunting schedule this year with six opponents having won 10 games or more last year! At the bottom of the rankings is Navy as they play just three teams who had winning records last year including their first two opponents Notre Dame and Penn St.
When I release my 2012 toughest schedules in this year's magazine, they take two major factors into account. The first are my 9 sets of Power Ratings. This ensures that an FCS team is rated much lower than Ohio St a probable Top 20 team that finished with a losing record last year! The second factor is the amount of home and away games played. As an example, this year some teams will have as many as 8 home games, while others play as many as 8 on the road.