Note: This is the first post in the SSOS series. Check the main page by clicking the banner above to see the most recent SSOS numbers.
I have created a simple statistical method of measuring strength of schedule. I don’t like using just wins and losses for a couple of reasons. For one, a win over Louisiana-Monroe counts the same as a win over Louisiana State. Beyond that, just look at the Florida – LSU game. Florida led for 58:51 of that game, but in a wins and losses only system, Florida gets no credit for that.
So, I put everyone’s schedule into four different spreadsheets and filled in each team’s opponents’ rank in total offense, scoring offense, total defense, and scoring defense. I then calculated the average rank of each that each team has faced, then averaged those four averages to come out with a final strength of schedule number. Now that everyone has played 5 or 6 games, the sample size is large enough that most anomalies should be evened out by now.
As a side note, the rank for any I-AA team in any category is 120. I am using the official NCAA stats, and they include games against I-AA teams. I do not have the time to go through everyone’s games to subtract out all I-AA games from the stats and recalculate the categories. I also didn’t want to just lump all of Division I together like Jeff Sagarin does because I-AA teams play other I-AA teams almost exclusively, and the better I-AA teams would end up a lot higher than they should be. Instead, I just gave a blanket penalty to I-A teams for playing I-AA teams because they should know better.
For these purposes, Western Kentucky is still a I-AA team despite being a I-A provisional team. Here’s the top 25:
- Notre Dame
- Florida International
- East Carolina
- Ole Miss
- Washington State
- NC State
- Utah State
- Colorado State
- Oregon State
The whole, color-coded table in PDF format is here: 10-06-07.pdf
You would expect to see bad teams in the top quintile since they do tours of BCS leagues to get paychecks, and there are some of those with Marshall, Louisiana-Monroe, and the like. However, there are also four Pac 10 teams, three SEC teams, three Big 12 teams, two ACC teams, and one each from the Big East and Big Ten.
You would also expect to see BCS league teams in the bottom quintile since they are notorious for fattening up on cupcakes in the early season. To that end, we find five Big 12 teams, three Big Ten teams, three Big East teams, and one each from the Pac 10 and SEC. Those teams from the Pac 10 and SEC? USC and Vanderbilt. For all the complaining about SEC teams and their non conference scheduling, from a statistical standpoint, only Vandy has a deplorable schedule. It also shows that so far, Les Miles was right about USC having an easy road, though all of the Trojans’ toughest games are still ahead.
I then went through and arranged everything by wins and losses, and some surprising and not-so-surprising things surfaced. Of the eleven undefeated teams left, five have schedules in the bottom quintile, three in the fourth quintile, two in the third quintile, and only one – LSU – from the second quintile. Not only have everyone in the top quintile lost a game, but all have lost at least two games. I think that helps validate this method some. It also shows just how good LSU is for being undefeated against the 41st toughest schedule when the next highest unbeaten is Cal at 56, more than half a quintile below.
The worst schedule by far is Hawaii’s, with two division I-AA teams plus Louisiana Tech, UNLV, Idaho, and Utah State. There are about 9 SOS points separating Hawaii from the second-worst, UConn, and for reference, there are about 9 SOS points separating #30 Miami of Ohio (60.25) from #76 Rutgers (69.55). At least Hawaii was smart by putting Boise State and Washington at the end, because if the Warriors can beat those two teams, the voters will only remember those two games and not the 10 other wretched teams on the schedule and grant them spot in a BCS bowl, where they will likely get unceremoniously blown out.
Here are some more fun stats that come out of these numbers.
Average SOS by Record
This actually plays out how you would expect. The better the record, the worse the strength of schedule.
There is one buck to the trend, and that’s 2-loss teams ending up lower than you would think. Well, the category of two-loss teams includes a lot of BCS conference schools like Florida, Auburn, Kansas State, and Texas, who have played tougher schedules than some of those around them since they have had early-season in-conference tests. In other words, had they played easier schedules, they’d probably not have lost two games.
Total Average SOS for all 119 Teams: 66.48
3-1: Only Boise State is listed at 3-1 since the Broncos already had their bye week and their Sunday night game was not counted in this week’s stats. Their SOS is 71.85, as listed above.
SOS by Conference
Best Schedule: Stanford, 2nd overall, score of 42.45
Worst Schedule: USC, 108th, 79.60
Average SOS Rank: 42.4
Average SOS Score: 60.31
Best Schedule: Auburn, 5th overall, score of 46.92
Worst Schedule: Vanderbilt, 98, 61.91
Average SOS Rank: 44.25
Average SOS Score: 77.00
Best Schedule: NC State, 18th overall, score of 55.21
Worst Schedule: (tie) Boston College and Clemson, 95th, 76.04
Average SOS Rank: 61.00
Average SOS Score: 66.35
Best Schedule: Nebraska, 9th overall, score of 51.33
Worst Schedule: Kansas, 116th, 86.50
Average SOS Rank: 63.67
Average SOS Score: 68.38
Best Schedule: Minnesota, 12th overall, score of 53.88
Worst Schedule: Indiana, 107, 78.71
Average SOS Rank: 71.45
Average SOS Score: 69.28
Best Schedule: Syracuse, 19th overall, score of 66.63
Worst Schedule: UConn, 118th, 91.45
Average SOS Rank: 81.25
Average SOS Score: 73.76
As you can see, it’s roughly a dead heat between the Pac 10 and SEC for scheduling, so if any of you SEC fans out there catch any heat from Pac 10 fans or especially Big Ten fans about the SEC scheduling weak teams, you can now set them straight.