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Strength of Schedule

+9 HS
burger1124's picture
October 7, 2019 at 11:52am

So, I'm a gigantic stats nerd. Every week, I make my own rankings of all 130 FBS teams. The template is the preseason AP Poll, and then it gets adjusted based on how teams perform against the spread by a percentage, and tracks that performance across the season, moving teams up and down accordingly. I also make a "rank average" each week of the mean ranking for each team in my rankings, the AP, Coaches' Poll, SP+, Massey, and Sagarin. It ends up being a really nice document because it balances the human and computer polls quite well.

So using the average rank of each team, I decided to do a little experiment. I took the current top-10 teams (as listed in the AP) and averaged out the rank of every team on their schedule. So basically "Ohio State's average opponent this season would be ranked #55," or whatever.

As you can see below, Ohio State's strength of schedule is clearly the strongest of all top-10 teams:

  1. Ohio State - 48.90166666666667
  2. Oklahoma - 50.08333333333333
  3. LSU - 51.61083333333333
  4. Penn State - 53.47166666666667
  5. Georgia - 55.535
  6. Florida - 55.6675
  7. Notre Dame - 55.835
  8. Wisconsin - 57.04833333333333
  9. Alabama - 60.82416666666667
  10. Clemson - 65.14583333333333

But it gets better. If we only average out the rankings of the teams that have been played so far, the picture becomes even clearer:

  1. Ohio State - 54.735
  2. Clemson - 65.8
  3. Notre Dame - 69.418
  4. Alabama - 69.96
  5. Florida - 74.36166666666667
  6. Oklahoma - 76.4
  7. Penn State - 77.016
  8. LSU - 77.916
  9. Wisconsin - 78.15
  10. Georgia - 80.8

Meaning, Ohio State has played six teams that, on average, would be ranked around #55 out of the 130 FBS teams. (Some of these teams have played FCS opponents; in these cases, I used the Sagarin rating system to determine how those teams would be ranked if they were in FBS).

I think the second list is most telling, since we can expect the season-long list to fluctuate as the year goes on. There is a lot to glean from these numbers; for example, some of the team offense/defense statistics we've seen for teams like Georgia really need to be put in context. Even in today's 11W article about the Buckeyes' completeness, they mention that Georgia "stands out for its well-roundedness," but the numbers are significantly less impressive when you consider that they were achieved against competition that ranked, on average, 26 spots lower than an Ohio State opponent.

Furthermore, Clemson has actually played one of the stronger schedules thus far. Their problem is that the schedule doesn't get any more challenging the rest of the season.

When it comes to upcoming opponents for the Buckeyes, I'm a little less worried about Wisconsin and Penn State at this point than I have been. PSU has looked like an absolute juggernaut--until you realize that the teams they've played are 23 spots below an OSU opponent. 

This is really encouraging. The Buckeyes are dominating their opponents, who, taken as a collective whole, are better than any other team's opponents. Not only does this bode well for the future, but it gives fans hard data to use in countering the "ain't played nobody" argument.

This is a forum post from a site member. It does not represent the views of Eleven Warriors unless otherwise noted.

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