This Week’s SSOS

Welcome EDSBS visitors, and thanks Orson for the link. Statistical Strength of Schedule (SSOS) has become a weekly feature of mine, and you can read the rationale and about how it’s calculated here.

The effect of conference play on BCS league teams is becoming readily apparent. Only 4 teams – Notre Dame, FIU, Utah State, and Colorado State – remain in the top quintile who do not play in BCS leagues, and Notre Dame plays almost nothing but BCS teams.

Before we dive into the numbers, I just want to highlight the Big 12. It’s been getting a lot of respect lately for having Kansas, Oklahoma, and Missouri at the top of the BCS standings. Well, no conference is quite as Jekyll and Hyde when it comes to scheduling as the Big 12. It has 7 teams in the top 36, but the remaining 5 teams are 70th or worse. That bottom 5 includes, not surprisingly, Missouri (70), Oklahoma (88) and Kansas (114). It’s big difference when you compare to #1 and #2, when LSU comes in at 28 and Oregon comes in at 18.

Enough preliminaries, time for the top 25:

  1. Notre Dame (NC)
  2. Nebraska (+1)
  3. Washington (+1)
  4. Colorado (-2)
  5. FIU (NC)
  6. Duke (NC)
  7. Syracuse (+5)
  8. Oklahoma State (+14)
  9. Utah State (+8)
  10. California (+15)
  11. Stanford (-3)
  12. Tennessee (+16)
  13. Baylor (+10)
  14. Maryland (+16)
  15. Iowa State (-4)
  16. Colorado State (NC)
  17. Auburn (+2)
  18. Oregon (-8)
  19. Ole Miss (-4)
  20. South Carolina (+18)
  21. Texas A&M (+7)
  22. Kentucky (-1)
  23. Washington State (-16)
  24. Florida (+5)
  25. USF (-16)

Full list: 11-10-07.pdf

SSOS by Losses

A continuing theme this year is the undefeated teams having extremely weak schedules relative to everyone else, and that, um, continues this week. Something I find interesting is that from 1 loss to 7 losses, everyone is roughly even. The 3 loss teams are slightly low, but it’s basically random. So, unless you have an exceptionally weak or exceptionally strong, your schedule doesn’t affect how many losses you rack up. This trend is a lot more pronounced in the average rank versus losses chart.

Average SSOS Rank versus Losses

The dropoff after 7 losses is quite dramatic, and the tougher schedules of the 3 loss teams are quite visible. Tennessee, Kentucky, and Florida lead the way for the three loss teams with their top quintile schedules, followed by USF from the Big East and Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan and Penn State from the Big Ten with their second quintile schedules.

Still, though, I have a hard time getting over just how easy of a time that Kansas and Hawaii have had it this season. They’re 114th and 119th, and Hawaii is 10 SSOS points worse than #118 Boise State. Of course the fact that BSU and Hawaii are the bottom two teams says a lot about the quality of the WAC this season.

Biggest Movers

This week’s top gainers:

  1. Wake Forest (+30) played Clemson last week
  2. UConn (+29) Cincinnati
  3. Louisville (+29) West Virginia
  4. Louisiana Tech (+23) LSU
  5. Cincinnati (+22) Connecticut
  6. TCU (+21) BYU
  7. Army (+20) Rutgers
  8. Fresno State (+20) Hawaii
  9. UCLA (+20) Arizona State
  10. Temple (+19) Penn State

This is the first time I’ve seen where two teams that played each other the past week end up in this category. Last week, there were several returning opponents from the week before that; this week, only Rutgers is repeated from last week.

The farthest fallers:

  1. Georgia Tech (-29) Duke
  2. UL-Monroe (-26) Grambling (I-AA)
  3. New Mexico (-26) Colorado State
  4. San Jose State (-26) New Mexico State
  5. New Mexico State (-25) San Jose State
  6. Oklahoma (-21) Baylor
  7. UNC (-20) NC State
  8. Air Force (-19) Notre Dame
  9. Rutgers (-19) Army
  10. UTEP (-19) Tulane
  11. Virginia (-19) Miami (FL)

It amuses me to no end that Notre Dame and Miami are this big of a drag on someone’s schedule. It also surprises me that this late in the season one game can still make this much of a difference. NMSU and SJSU make it a double of teams that played each other being together on these mover lists. What was it I was saying about the WAC being bad this year?

SSOS by Conference

Total Average SSOS for all 119 Teams: 63.86

Best Schedule: Tennessee, 11th overall, score of 53.43

Worst Schedule: Arkansas, 95th, 70.48

Average SOS Rank: 33.08

Average SOS Score: 58.43

Best Schedule: Washington, 3rd overall, score of 48.70

Worst Schedule: USC, 86th, 68.95

Average SOS Rank: 35.20

Average SOS Score: 58.45

Best Schedule: Nebraska, 2nd overall, score of 46.05

Worst Schedule: Kansas, 114th, 77.28

Average SOS Rank: 46.00

Average SOS Score: 60.17

Best Schedule: Syracuse, 7th overall, score of 50.58

Worst Schedule: Pittsburgh, 68th, 65.28

Average SOS Rank: 46.25

Average SOS Score: 60.81

Best Schedule: Illinois, 33rd overall, score of 58.82

Worst Schedule: Northwestern, 71st, 65.82

Average SOS Rank: 48.45

Average SOS Score: 61.83

Best Schedule: Duke, 6th overall, score of 50.05

Worst Schedule: Boston College, 101st, 71.50

Average SOS Rank: 58.17

Average SOS Score: 63.18

The Big East actually passed the Big Ten, the ACC is alone at the bottom, and the SEC took back the complete title this week by .02 SSOS points. The Big Ten’s campaign of blandness – having no one in the top, fourth, or bottom quintile – continues but is not doing the league any favors.


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