Strength of Schedule: Dead Horse Beaten Edition

ziplock007's picture
August 16, 2014 at 2:00 am

Schedules Matter.

The FBS division: 125 teams, 12 regular season games.

Harder Schedules are Harder:

For example, last year both LSU & Ball State finished 10-3.  Which team is better?  
Football seasons are brutal.  Tough schedules have a higher accumulation of collisions bringing about injuries and fatigue.  
Last year Georgia opened with Clemson on the road, lost a nail-biter by 3 and dropped from 5 to 12 in the polls.  Oregon clobbered FCS Nichols State and leapt from 3rd to 2nd in the polls.  Nichols State went 1-10 in 2012 against FCS competition; this was the test that boosted Oregon's poll standings.
Am I wrong, but wasn't Georgia's performance more impressive?
Georgia's idiotically scheduled Clemson, South Carolina (win), and LSU (win) in the first five weeks.  The aggregate of violence led to a slew of injuries and a disappointing season.

Easier Schedules Are Easier:

Source - Phil Steele:
Phil Steele made some interesting points regarding how easy a schedule is and how well a team does.  While it's common sense, it's interesting to note that champions get there the easy way.  Someone needs to tell Georgia.
Alabama has the EASIEST of all SEC schedules. And, "The only time Alabama missed out on a BCS appearance in the past four seasons was also the same year its schedule was the most difficult"

And, championship bound FSU had their, "2013 schedule at No. 64 coming into last season. That was No. 13 in the ACC and on par with UConn at No. 63 and Temple at No. 65."
Speaking of ACC, remember when Duke was an FSU victory away from a Division Title? "Which ACC team had the easiest schedule coming into 2013? Well, that was Duke, which ended up going 10-4, the most wins in the history of the program."

Easier Schedules Have always been Better:

1915 A.D.
Back in the days of Woodrow Wilson, a European War (America hadn't joined WWI yet), and no Breaking Bad, the deep south had the SIAA Conference (Southern Intercollegiate Athletic Association).
Vanderbilt finished the season 7-1, whilst Georgia Tech finished 7-0-1.  They didn't play head to head; but GaTech clearly had the tougher schedule compared Vandy's wins over the likes of Henderson State, Sewanee, Cuberland, and Southwestern.  Because of no head-to-head contest, Newspapers voted Vanderbilt conference champions.  Why?  They had a higher point differential.

Easier Schedules are more rewarding... Even for OSU

Nearly 100 years later, I still don't understand the notion of tough football schedules.
Back in 2005, I remember, before the season, wondering "Why did OSU and Texas schedule each other?"  Defeating Texas would put them on the road to a national title, but so would a lackluster 17-6 win over Idaho.
OSU lost to Texas by 3 points and fell out of title contention. 2005 is possibly Tressel's greatest ever had; but, they lost a nailbiter.  Still riding on the low, they lost another battle two weeks later at PSU.  Had OSU scheduled, say, Idaho they may have played for the national title.

2007: Two years later a Boeckman led OSU was without Ginn, Troy Smith, Gonzalez, Pittman.  It was one of Tressel's weakest teams, but somehow a toiletesque non-conference slate (Youngstown state, Akron, a 4-9 Washington, and Kent State) and 7-1 in a weak B1G yielded a National Title Shot.

Voters Still Don't Get It:

Oh Wisconsin: Last September an eventual 10 win Pac-12 squad bested them on the road at night (three time zones away) via officiating incompetence.
Pac-12 Manned Up: The officiating was so errant, the Pac-12 actually admitted fault.  A rare occurance in major sports.
Aftermath: Arizona State, previously unranked, sprang to 23rd in Coaches & AP Poll.  Wisconsin trekked into the desert 18th & 20th in the Coaches and AP poll, but frustratingly dropped to 24th in the Coaches poll and Unranked in the AP poll.  
Unranked due to a close loss, on the road game, at night, where Pac-12 officiating admitted incompetence.

Yeah, there's rumblings the playoff committee will entertain a revolutionary notion of factoring SoS.  But, voters haven't figured it out since WWI, 2014 is no different.

Big 10 Strength of Schedules

From Phil Steele:

1  (19) - Rutgers
2  (23) - Minnesota
3  (26) - Indiana
4  (36) - Ohio State
5  (38) - Illinois
6  (39) - Maryland
7  (43) - Purdue
8  (45) - NorthWestern
9  (50) - Michigan State
10 (51) - Nebraska
11 (53) - Michigan
12 (54) - Penn State
13 (70) - Iowa
14 (72) - Wisconsin

Seriously, look at Iowa's schedule.  You'll laugh because laughter will prevent you from crying. Save the tears for Wisconsin if they beat LSU in the opener; they'll be on easy street to the B1G Title Game.

Duke has a SoS ranked #79 out of 128: The lowest of all the Power 5.  The 2nd & 3rd lowest?  Yep, Iowa and Wisconsin.

Every coach talks the talk about challenging non-conference opponents and tough divisional cross overs... but, Bama (whose permanent divisional cross over is Unranked Tennesee) and FSU know better.

It would be a ratings bonanza if OSU tested their prowess against Bama and Oklahoma every September... but until voters wise up, why not schedule 4 games against Idaho?  You won't be intrigued, but you won't care come playoff time.

Fun Trivia Fact:
The highest non Power 5 SoS is SMU @ #41.  If they get 6 or 7 wins, they're basically a middle of the pack B1G team.

ps--Can someone explain to me why OSU closes out both 2015 & 2016 with MSU, Michigan, and then a potential B1G Title Game... Wisconsin is lovin' it.

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