2016 College Football Strength of Schedule Rankings – Dec. 2

By Kevin Kelley -

With the playoff and bowls set to kick off in just a few weeks, college football strength of schedule is once again a major topic of discussion.

The NCAA publishes a strength of schedule ranking, but it is solely based on the winning percentage of the opponents that a team has played against. It’s not very scientific, so most people look to the various computer rankings.

One source, the Sagarin Ratings, was previously included in the BCS computer rankings and has been featured in USA Today since 1985. In those ratings, No. 1 Alabama has the 7th toughest schedule in the country.

Below are the Sagarin strength of schedule rankings for the College Football Playoff Top 25 (from Nov. 29) and also the Top 25 toughest schedules played overall.

Sagarin Strength of Schedule – CFP Top 25
*SOS ranking in parentheses.

1. Alabama (7)
2. Ohio State (15)
3. Clemson (47)
4. Washington (60)
5. Michigan (33)
6. Wisconsin (20)
7. Penn State (39)
8. Colorado (23)
9. Oklahoma (18)
10. Oklahoma State (59)
11. USC (5)
12. Florida State (13)
13. Louisville (66)
14. Auburn (17)
15. Florida (50)
16. West Virginia (30)
17. Western Michigan (118)
18. Stanford (9)
19. Navy (70)
20. Utah (35)
21. LSU (2)
22. Tennessee (40)
23. Virginia Tech (57)
24. Houston (75)
25. Pittsburgh (28)

Sagarin Strength of Schedule – Overall Top 25

1. Ole Miss
2. LSU
3. Oregon
5. USC
6. Arizona
7. Alabama
8. Arkansas
9. Stanford
10. Oregon State
11. California
12. Rutgers
13. Florida State
14. Michigan State
15. Ohio State
16. Syracuse
17. Auburn
18. Oklahoma
19. Kansas
20. Wisconsin
21. Illinois
22. Arizona State
23. Colorado
24. Duke
25. Iowa State

Comments (33)

i noticed that also, so obviously the computer was hacked by the russians and wikileaks will have the true SOS in order that is more accurate.

College football, the only sport where opinion carries more weight than performance and conference championships only mean a trophy for the case and nothing more. Too bad.

This list is generated by computer not by opinion. I suppose you could say who sets the computer progam up is opinion but its done long before any game is played.

Curious how a conference with 4 teams in top 7 (Big 10) has the number 2 SOS rank after playing the 3 same conference teams AND the number 9 SOS team?

Serious question why isn’t Ohio St. #1?

Phil, There is a difference between the tournament winner and the best team.

Do you think that, for purposes of illustration, an undefeated Boise State or Navy team is better than a one loss Alabama or Ohio State? Given how tough it is to play in the SEC or Big 10 conference each week and stay focused, I think there is no debate on the matter.

Now, let’s have a championship with the 8 or 16 best teams, without regard to record, but the best teams, and the winner will be the true best team.

Given the 120 or so teams in D1 football it is a given that there will be a huge difference between strength of schedule between the conferences and also the non affiliated teams. Undefeated does NOT always equate with undefeated.

Wisconsin schedule #20? What are these guys smoking? Alabama #7, played 3 cupcakes and no teams now ranked in the top 10.

Hmmm, the good ole cupcake game. You failed to mention that Wisconsin lost to The Ohio State & Michigan that are in the top 5 plus has beaten NO ONE else that is even ranked. Plus the Badgers played Akron & Georgia State, #20 sounds about right.

Consider: The first 12 bcs teams are entered into a playoff. The first 4 teams receive a bye in the first round. The bottom 8 teams play in the first round. The winners of the first round will play the top four in the second round. Then the remaining four teams play in the third round, and finally, the last 2 teams play. All games are bowl games.

Whoever put this ranking together doesn’t know what they’re talking about. #1 Alabama did not play one team that ended up ranked in the to ten. The highest ranked team they played was Auburn who ended up #14.. #2 Ohio State played four teams that ended up ranked in the top 10, (#5, #6, #7 and #10) beating three of them and losing by 3 points away to the fourth..

Playing Alabama wrecks you for the rest of the season. Kinda takes away your will to compete. Roll Tide.

But of those OSU opponents, how many of them had three cupcake games like Michigan and OSU had? Until there’s a real system in place that’s a hybrid Conference schedule and English premier soccer concept of relegation and promotion, there will never be consensus.

Washington played the worst OOC schedule of any team in the top 25. It’s a shame because there are several 1-AA powerhouse teams out west including Eastern Washington but the Huskies made a joke out of their schedule by playing scrimmages against Portland State, Idaho and Rutgers. FACT…that’s the most cowardice OOC schedule ever submitted to the committee and no school will ever offer one worse than that in a 4 team playoff.

So, Alabama, Michigan, and The Ohio State, who all played “cupcake teams”, by your metrics, do not deserve to be in the playoffs? And some I-AA “powerhouse teams” do? That is absurd, especially considering that at the time UW played Idaho (and Rutgers), they were in the top 25.
Your argument makes absolutely no sense. I could see an argument for…..USC, Western Michigan maybe, but Eastern Washington? Not a chance, and I love the Eagles …..

Michigan gets many home games because teams like getting their monetary share of the huge Michigan home crowd. Usually more cash than they get for their home games. Much the same for those teams that will play Notre Dame at home be it at Notre Dame or a few other places like Giant Stadium that Notre Dame designates as a home game, knowing their game will be nationally televised boosting revenue for the visiting team. Numerous so called big teams get more home games for out of conference games because of that.

The one outside team that got a major bowl, Western Michigan, had a SOS at 119 the last I looked and played no team in the top 40. In the end its about money and drawing power and 1AA teams have less drawing power than the teams that finished last in the Big 5 conferences. If Eastern Washington got a bowl game in Phoenix they would bring how many fans and how many locals would walk across the street to see them. Some of these lesser bowls will be played in stands half empty. Not good for the local economy where the games are played. Its always about money. How many can even know of an Eastern Washington football team.

Alabama like other SEC teams play 4 non-conference games (which is a joke). This year included USC and powerhouse teams Kent St, Western Kentucky, and Chattanooga. Yes, that is the schedule of the #1 team. 12 games and 1/4 are against small conferences.
Rule should be, a team can only qualify for the playoffs if they played two or less 1-AA teams.

Glad your not on the committee, you failed to mention the other top 3 teams.
Clemson- Struggled against TROY & played S.Carolina St then lost to Pitt.
OSU- played Tulsa & BG then lost to Penn St
Washington is the best- played Rutgers, Idaho & Portland ST, lost to USC
Whats the point about an undefeated Bama team that has a close OOC schedule to these schools?
Bama only played one FCS, where are you getting this “Rule should be, a team can only qualify for the playoffs if they played two or less 1-AA teams.”
SEC bashing is alive & well.

OSU wins popular vote and needs to go home with that, PSU wins conference and should be in the race and may be the only team that can stand with Bama.

You’re saying Penn State is the only team with a chance to beat Alabama? The same team that lost by 39 to Michigan…. c’mom man

Penn St would be underdogs to all 9 other top 10 teams if they played today, congrats on making it to the Rose Bowl though.

Lets see; OSU was UNEQUIVOCALLY better (according to Selection Committee rules) than any other team under consideration.
1. OSU did not win the Conference Championship
2. OSU did not play for the Conference Championship
3. OSU did not win their Division
4. OSU’s Conference Champion beat OSU in regular season
5. OSU was either tied with, or losing to, 3 teams at the end of regulation 60 minutes (Penn St, Wisconsin, Michigan).
6. OSU won one game because the other team (who had lost 7 out of 8 (Michigan St) had a failed conversion attempt (Point After Touchdown) that would have won the game.
7. OSU won 3 games either on the last play of the game or with under 6 seconds left in regulation.
Consider those 4 teams represent 25% of OSU’s schedule and the Committee says OSU is UNEQUIVOCALLY better than Penn St, a team that beat OSU and was Conference Champion.

Ohio State beat a team that beat Penn St. by 39pts. Ohio State lost 1 game, Penn State 2. Ohio State ranked higher all season. Ohio State did tie for the conference championship but because of tie breaker kept out of conference championship game. To have two teams with two losses (granted both with a loss out of conference) in the Championship game while a team with only loss stays home seems a tad ludicrous to me. Added to it that Ohio State finished way higher as to SOS. So better over all record and 15th vs 39th SOS, the right decision was made. Yeah Ohio State did beat Michigan in overtime, a Michigan team that beat Penn State by 39.

Not to mention that The Ohio State dominated the Penn St game in stats & if it wasn’t for a blocked FG by Penn St then they would’ve lost. Buckeyes are a more attractive team then Penn ST.

By your criteria and OSU’s “Body of Work,” if OSU had played in the Championship game and lost, they still would would have been selected by the Committee to the “Final Four” since they are clearly better than Wisconsin (and Michigan) plus all the other Big 10 teams have at least 2 loses (and for all the reasons you mentioned above). Clearly a Wisconsin victory in the Championship wouldn’t have mattered (by your reasoning) since OSU would previously defeated Michigan that had already defeated Wisconsin. I believe would accurately describe your current reasoning for OSU being the top team.
Bette yet, Maybe we should just not play any more games and just vote OSU as the overall top team. That would save a lot of anguish.
By the way, you mentioned “dominated,” you don’t think the OSU line was dominated by Michigan St and Michigan?
If OSU could just win the Conference title again, then these infantile discussions would not be taking place!

Michigan & Michigan St was not on the table, you said Penn St. OSU had a good lose (yes there are good loses) @ Penn St, OSU has a better resume then Penn St. Meanwhile Penn St got beat by 39pts to Michigan & lost to a mediocre Pitt team while the Buckeyes smashed Oklahoma in Norman, I think that’s one of the things that got them in among other things. There is a lot more then just saying if this & if that happened, a lot has to play itself out & it did. If Clemson lost to Va.tech do you actually think the Hokies should be in? I honestly don’t even believe Florida should be in if they had beat Bama.
The conference championship is something but not everything.