This Week’s SSOS

This week’s Statistical Strength of Schedule is brought to you by the letters U, F, T, um… T again, and the number 15.

I’ve got the new SSOS figures calculated for this week, and the BCS conference teams are definitely benefiting from more conference play. At least those who played conference games did. Overall conference numbers were better across the board. Now, I’ll go over the top 25, and look at who were the biggest risers and fallers.

As with last week, the SSOS score is taken by averaging all of each team’s opponent’s total offense, scoring offense, total defense, and scoring defense ranks, then averaging those together to come out with a final SSOS score. The top 25:

  1. Notre Dame, 35.21 points, no change in rank from last week
  2. Washington, 37.71, +1
  3. Stanford, 43.88, -1
  4. Florida Int’l, 46.50, +2
  5. Auburn, 46.68, NC
  6. Tennessee, 49.08, +2
  7. Syracuse, 49.18, +12
  8. East Carolina, 51.96, -1
  9. Utah State, 52.17, +12
  10. Oregon State, 52.18, +13
  11. Colorado, 52.50, +4
  12. Nebraska, 52.68, -3
  13. Washington State, 52.79, +1
  14. Mississippi, 53.29, -4
  15. UNLV, 54.64, +13
  16. Arizona, 54.86, +11
  17. Duke, 55.00, +3
  18. BYU, 55.21, -7
  19. Colorado State, 56.17, +3
  20. SMU, 56.67, +20
  21. LSU, 56.75, +20
  22. Akron, 57.00, -18
  23. Kansas State, 57.46, +3
  24. Marshall, 57.54, -11
  25. Wyoming, 57.96, +37

You can see the full list here: 10-13-07.pdf

Note: The Nevada – Boise State game from Sunday is not included as the official NCAA stats only include the games through Saturday, October 13.

Average SSOS by Losses

Again, we see that the undefeated teams have played by far the easiest schedules. USF is in the third quartile at 56, but every other unbeaten team is in the triple digits of easiest schedule: Ohio State is at 107, Arizona State is at 109, BC is at 113, Kansas is at 116, and Hawaii is dead last at 119. The gap between no losses and one loss has opened up from almost 7 points to almost 12 points.

Also, we see the 2-loss teams with a trend-breakingly difficult schedule average, but it’s for the same reason as last week: an unusual number of teams from BCS leagues find themselves sitting on two losses. Auburn, Tennessee, and Kansas State are all 2-losss teams in the top quintile of SOS, and six other 2-loss teams from BCS leagues are in the second quintile. Other than that, it’s a nicely downward-curved line showing that the more losses a team has, generally the more difficult a schedule they’ve played. I’d be interested to see if there’s another SOS measure that shows such a nice relationship as this one does. That very neat inverted parabola shape inspires confidence in me that this is an accurate method of looking at SOS.

Biggest Movers

This week’s top gainers:

  1. Wyoming, +37 in the standings, its opponent last week was New Mexico
  2. Nevada, +35, Fresno State
  3. Baylor, +34, Kansas
  4. North Carolina, +33, South Carolina
  5. San Jose State, +33, Hawaii
  6. Wisconsin, +33, Penn State
  7. Missouri, +31, Oklahoma
  8. UCF, +27, USF
  9. FAU, +26, Bye
  10. Michigan, +26, Purdue
  11. Oklahoma, +26, Missouri

Oklahoma and Missouri perfectly illustrate what can happen when two good teams play each other: they both dramatically improve each other’s SOS score. LSU and Kentucky did the same for each other, each moving up 20 and 15 spots respectively, only to a lesser degree since LSU and Kentucky both had played tougher schedules than OU and Mizzou.

This weeks biggest losers:

  1. North Texas, -42 spots in the standings, its opponent last week was UL-Monroe
  2. UTEP, -39, East Carolina
  3. Temple, -34, Akron
  4. Tulane, -33, UAB
  5. TCU, -29, Stanford
  6. Rutgers, -29, Syracuse
  7. Western Michigan, -25, Northern Illinois
  8. Miami (Ohio), -22, Bowling Green
  9. Toledo, -21, Buffalo
  10. Houston, -21, Rice

Remember kids, playing a U-L U-Pick ’em team can be disastrous to your strength of schedule. Arkansas State played the other half, UL-Lafayette, and fell 11 spots to 97th, but with a schedule already in the 80s, Ark State only had so much room to fall.

SOS by Conference

Total Average SOS for all 119 Teams: 65.54

Best Schedule: Washington, 2nd overall, score of 37.71

Worst Schedule: USC, 111th,80.04

Average SOS Rank: 32.00

Average SOS Score: 58.64

Best Schedule: Auburn, 5th overall, score of 46.68

Worst Schedule: Vanderbilt, 95, 60.51

Average SOS Rank: 39.92

Average SOS Score: 60.51

Best Schedule: Colorado, 11th overall, score of 52.50

Worst Schedule: Kansas, 116th, 84.21

Average SOS Rank: 48.91

Average SOS Score: 65.04

Best Schedule: Duke, 17th overall, score of 55.00

Worst Schedule: Boston College, 113th, 80.21

Average SOS Rank: 53.73

Average SOS Score: 65.95

Best Schedule: Minnesota, 26th overall, score of 57.96

Worst Schedule: Ohio State, 107, 77.29

Average SOS Rank: 61.80

Average SOS Score: 67.18

Best Schedule: Syracuse, 7th overall, score of 49.18

Worst Schedule: UConn, 118th, 86.83

Average SOS Rank: 74.71

Average SOS Score: 70.71

The Big 12 overtook the ACC for third place among the conferences, and the Pac 10 opened up a slightly larger lead over the SEC. Still, the Pac 10 and SEC are leaving everyone else behind in terms of SOS. These two conferences should remain in the lead since the teams in them will be playing each other the rest of the year and they are clearly the two best conferences in America.

Most Important Thing: Never trust a won/loss record; look inside it to see if its foundation is rock or sand, and then, and only then, create a poll. There is absolutely no reason for Ohio State to be ranked #1.

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2 Responses to This Week’s SSOS

  1. Amos says:

    I think this method might be slightly flawed, at least until nearly the end of the season. Because as it stands now if Team A is really bad, their opponent, Team B, is very likely to both score a lot of points on them and keep them from scoring a lot of points (and likewise yards). So among the 6-7 games Team B has played, one of them they were able to put up great stats, which as it stands is close to 15% of their games. It’s kind of natural for the bad teams to appear to have such a difficult SSOS, since each of their opponents is getting a boost in their numbers whenever playing the bad team. (Note: this also happens in the normal way of calculating SOS). Remember that if Notre Dame doesn’t know how to score anything, they’re opponents defensive numbers will spike making the teams seem better than they are.

  2. year2 says:

    It’s possible that one game could skew some numbers for a team, but there have been enough games by now that most of that has been evened out by other games.

    There are always going to be anomalies in strength of schedule ratings until all games have been played. I mean, UConn is not that good and hasn’t played anyone, but the Huskies are still 5-1 and count as such in a won/loss based rating.

    With statistics, things always improve with a larger sample set.

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