|Daily Blog •July 3, 2013|
Who Plays the Toughest Schedule in 2013?
The question arises each year, “who plays the toughest schedule?” 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 opponent’s records from the PREVIOUS season. Let’s look at a couple of examples. Last year, I had Florida as my surprise winner of the SEC East and they wound up going 11-1 in the regular season. I also had UCF as one of my top non-BCS teams and they finished with 10 wins. However, if you used the NCAA method you only got credit for playing two teams who were a combined 12-13 in 2011.
Two years ago, I had Houston in my Top 25 and they finished 13-1 and ranked #18. I also had Georgia and Clemson on my Most Improved Teams List and counted them as a ranked team for the upcoming schedule and they finished the regular season ranked #12 and #21. If you used the NCAA method you only got credit for playing 3 teams with losing records (all below .500 in ‘10).
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!
The second flaw is basing it on pure overall records. If a team played an FCS school that was 11-1 in 2007, that counted 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 obviously had Bama ranked as a MUCH tougher team than any FCS foe.
Another great example came from last year. In 2011, Ohio St went 6-7 and any team FCS team that had a winning record in 2011 would have counted as a tougher game in the NCAA method than facing a Buckeyes team who would go to be the only school in the country to finish the season unbeaten in 2012.
Now let’s turn our attention to 2013. This year I again decided to see what the NCAA method would come up with for toughest opponent’s faced, which I always list in the magazine. Below is a chart of all 126 teams and the combined 2012 opponents’ records. It is ranked in order of highest % of opponent wins (or toughest schedule) to lowest % of opponent wins (or easiest schedule).
Again this is the NCAA's method and not MINE!
NCAA Method (Opponent Win % from 2012)
|Rk||Team||Foe Wins||Foe Losses||Foe Win %|
|55.||San Diego St||82||70||53.9%|
|61.||San Jose St||81||71||53.3%|
|111.||New Mexico St||68||83||45.0%|
Below are my rankings for the nation’s toughest schedules this year. These rankings take two major factors into account. The first is my 9 sets of Power Ratings. This ensures that an FCS team is rated much lower than USC and Virginia Tech, two teams that finished just 7-6 last year! The second factor is the amount of home and away games played.
The toughest schedule this year according to my rankings belongs to Florida while the easiest belongs to Old Dominion.
Phil Steele's 2013 Toughest Schedules
|6||Iowa St||48||Wake Forest||90||Central Michigan|
|9||Kentucky||51||Penn St||93||Utah St|
|13||Notre Dame||55||Clemson||97||Western Michigan|
|25||Kansas St||67||Ohio St||109||ULM|
|26||Washington St||68||Memphis||110||South Alabama|
|28||Texas A&M||70||Idaho||112||Arkansas St|
|29||Michigan||71||Akron||113||New Mexico St|
|30||Texas Tech||72||Colorado St||114||Rice|
|31||Arizona St||73||Tulsa||115||Bowling Green|
|32||Oklahoma St||74||Buffalo||116||Ball St|
|33||Mississippi St||75||San Diego St||117||Army|
|36||Boston College||78||UTSA||120||Louisiana Tech|
|37||Oregon St||79||Kent St||121||Louisiana|
|39||Vanderbilt||81||San Jose St||123||Texas St|
|41||Georgia Tech||83||Eastern Michigan||125||Georgia St|
|42||North Carolina||84||Miami, Oh||126||Old Dominion|
Let’s pick out 2 teams to show you the flaws of just using last year’s overall opponent records. Based on 2012’s opponent records Georgia St has the #41 toughest schedule while Virginia Tech takes on an easy #99 slate. Virginia Tech’s “cupcake” #99 schedule features 5 road trips vs BCS foes including Top 20 caliber teams in Alabama and Miami, Fl. They also play 2 of their games vs non-AQ teams against the likes of Marshall and East Carolina, which are two of the toughest teams in CUSA this year. Georgia St’s much “tougher” slate includes 3 games against FCS competition and while they do play West Virginia (much weaker this year) and Alabama, their other 7 games against FBS teams are all SBC tms. Overall, VT plays 9 games against BCS teams with the possibility of playing as many as 4 ranked teams while Georgia St plays just 2 BCS teams and only one of those teams will be ranked (Alabama). Do you really think Trent Miles would trade schedules? My strength of schedule has Virginia Tech at #59 and Georgia St’s at #125.
Here are the teams with the biggest discrepancy in the two methods of determining toughest schedule and you can check out each team’s schedules to see which method you think is better. I list the difference in rankings between the two in ( )’s. Most UNDERRATED schedules (teams that face a tougher slate than the NCAA’s % rankings): 1. Alabama (64) 2. Oregon (54) 3. Texas (47) 4. UCLA (45) 5. Virginia Tech (40) 5. Vanderbilt (40) 7. Arizona (38) 8. West Virginia (37) 8. Washington St (37) 10. Ohio St (35).
Here are the Most OVERRATED Schedules (teams that face an easier slate than the NCAA’s % rankings): 1. Georgia St (84) 2. Akron (65) 3. Eastern Michigan (63) 3. UNLV (59) 3. Houston (51) 6. Air Force (50) 7. Memphis (49) 8. NC State (41) 9. Colorado St (35) 10. South Alabama (31).
So which method do you think is better?
Only 57 Days Until the First College Football Game!!!