Strength of schedule (SOS) is a component of college football that spurs much debate. With the 2011 college football regular season completed, let’s take a look at the final SOS rankings from several resources.
There are several sources for strength of schedule, including four of the six BCS computer components and the NCAA itself. Note that these rankings are for schedules played and will differ from preseason rankings.
For comparison purposes, the preseason Top 10 strength of schedules from both Phil Steele and The Sporting News are listed first. Click the title to view the complete rankings for each source:
PRESEASON STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS
- (1) Colorado, (2) Iowa State, (3) Baylor, (4) Oregon State, (5) LSU
(6) Boston College, (7) USC, (8) Washington, (9) Auburn, (10) Miami, FL
Colorado’s schedule was ranked preseason number one by Phil Steele primarily due to games against Ohio State, Oregon, Stanford and USC. They also had to play California in a non-conference game. After the season played out, the Buffaloes did not end up in the Top 10 in any of the final SOS rankings.
Iowa State’s final schedule strength was ranked 2nd by Sagarin, 5th by Anderson & Hester, 6th by Colley and 7th by Massey. The Cyclones faced a gauntlet of tough teams including Baylor, Connecticut, Iowa, Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas A&M.
Baylor’s final SOS was ranked in the Top 10 of four of the BCS computer polls. Their schedule included games against Kansas State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, TCU, Texas and Texas A&M.
Oregon State, Boston College, USC, Washington and Miami (FL) did not appear in the Top 10 of any of the final SOS rankings. LSU was 1st (NCAA and Kenneth Massey) while Auburn was 4th (NCAA) and 10th (Colley Matrix).
- (1) LSU, (2) Pittsburgh, (3) Colorado, (4) Miami, FL, (5) Ohio State
(6) Florida State, (7) Georgia, (8) UCLA, (9) USC, (10) Clemson
LSU’s final strength of schedule was ranked first in the NCAA ranking and first in Kenneth Massey’s ratings, but was not in the Top 10 of A&H, Colley or Sagarin. The Tigers played a tough non-conference slate including games against Oregon in Arlington and at West Virginia. In the SEC, LSU faced teams such as Alabama, Arkansas and Georgia.
Pittsburgh’s preseason SOS was ranked 3rd, but didn’t end up in the Top 10 of any index. The Panthers’ schedule strength suffered from a down year in the Big East and a lackluster year by two of their big name non-conference opponents: Iowa and Utah.
The 3rd through 10th ranked schedules in The Sporting News rankings did not finish in the Top 10.
FINAL STRENGTH OF SCHEDULE RANKINGS
NCAA (vs. FBS & FCS)
- (1) LSU, (2) Tennessee, (3) Alabama, (4) Auburn, (5) Penn State
(6) Minnesota, (7) Oklahoma State, (8) Kansas, (9) Nebraska, (10) Clemson
This NCAA ranking is based solely on the winning percentage of past opponents and future opposition (bowl opponent). LSU’s opponents have 16 more wins and 3 fewer losses than 2nd place Tennessee. Tennessee, Minnesota and Kansas did not qualify for bowl games, therefore they have no future opposition.
Anderson & Hester (BCS)
- (1) Kansas, (2) Texas A&M, (3) Texas, (4) Oklahoma, (5) Iowa State
(6) Baylor, (7) Missouri, (8) Texas Tech, (9) Oklahoma State, (10) Ole Miss
Anderson & Hester’s strength of schedule rankings are dominated by Big 12 teams, with 9 of the 10 members appearing in the Top 10. Ole Miss holds the 10th spot.
Colley Matrix (BCS)
- (1) Kansas, (2) Oklahoma, (3) Texas A&M, (4) Texas, (5) Oklahoma State
(6) Iowa State, (7) Baylor, (8) FCS Group 3 ??, (9) Missouri, (10) Auburn
The Top 10 of the Colley Matrix is also dominated by the Big 12. Auburn holds the 10th spot with FCS Group 3 in 8th. See Colley’s site for an explanation of FCS Groupings.
Jeff Sagarin (BCS)
- (1) Kansas, (2) Iowa State, (3) Texas A&M, (4) Texas, (5) Oklahoma
(6) Oklahoma State, (7) Missouri, (8) Baylor, (9) Texas Tech, (10) Kansas State
Continuing a pattern, Big 12 teams occupy the entire Top 10 in Sagarin’s strength of schedule ratings. Kansas is ranked 1st, as they were in Anderson & Hester and the Colley Matrix. The Jayhawks’ non-conference slate included Northern Illinois (MAC Champions) and at Georgia Tech.
Kenneth Massey (BCS)
- (1) LSU, (2) Alabama, (3) Oklahoma, (4) Texas A&M, (5) Oklahoma State
(6) Texas, (7) Iowa State, (8) Oregon, (9) Arkansas, (10) Baylor
The top two teams in the BCS standings, LSU and Alabama, have the top two spots in Kenneth Massey’s ratings. Big 12 teams occupy six spots in the Top 10, while Oregon comes in at 8th and Arkansas at 9th.