ESPN FPI projects 2023 college football strength of schedule rankings

By Kevin Kelley -

ESPN Stats & Information has posted their 2023 Football Power Index (FPI), which includes college football strength of schedule rankings.

The ESPN FPI defines their strength of schedule as the “rank among all FBS teams of remaining schedule strength, from perspective of an average FBS team.”

According to the preseason ESPN FPI, the Ole Miss Rebels have the toughest schedule for the 2023 season. The 2023 Ole Miss football schedule includes home games against Georgia Tech, LSU, Arkansas, Vanderbilt, Texas A&M, ULM and Mercer and road games at Tulane, Alabama, Auburn, Georgia, and Mississippi State.

The Minnesota Golden Gophers are second in the ESPN FPI rankings, and they are followed by the Florida Gators, Maryland Terrapins, and Auburn Tigers.

The SEC leads the ESPN FPI strength of schedule rankings with 12 teams in the Top 25. The SEC is followed by the Big Ten with ten teams, while the ACC, Big 12, and Independents each have one team in the Top 25.

According to the FPI, the reigning national champion Georgia Bulldogs have the 31st toughest schedule next season. TCU, the runner-up, has the 38th toughest schedule.

Below are the top 25 toughest 2023 college football schedules as ranked by the ESPN FPI. To view the full list of rankings, head over to ESPN and check out the “REM SOS” column.

1. Ole Miss
2. Minnesota
3. Florida
4. Maryland
5. Auburn
6. Arkansas
7. Michigan State
8. Tennessee
9. Rutgers
10. Indiana
11. South Carolina
12. Texas
13. Kentucky
14. Penn State
15. LSU
16. Texas A&M
17. Purdue
18. Alabama
19. Notre Dame
20. Missouri
21. Michigan
22. Georgia Tech
23. Ohio State
24. Mississippi State
25. Wisconsin

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Comments (6)

+ WVU has to travel the most in the B12 Conference.

Travel takes an empirical Toll in all physical, mental & emotional areas of Sports.

See Dick Harmon, BYU Sports Journalist article @ “sports, college football, college basketball”
Feb. 13, 2023
“One challenge that shouldn’t be overlooked when it comes to the new-look Big 12 and Big 10”

Clearly this ranking over values the top teams in the SEC and Big 10 as nearly all the teams on it are in those two conferences and the few non-SEC/non-Big 10 teams on there play a top SEC or Big 10 team. There is no team from the Pac 12 even though 5 Pac 12 teams were in the top 25 at the end if last year and Colorado plays an all FBS (11 P5 including TCU) schedule.

In reality there are two types of strength of schedule that really matter.

1. Difficulty getting bowl eligible (which this ranking seems to be)
2. Difficulty making the college football playoff – how many top 5 opponents.