Phil Steele’s 2010 College Football Strength of Schedule Rankings

By Kevin Kelley -

Phil Steele has published his 2010 college football strength of schedule rankings. Iowa State has the toughest schedule in 2010, while Middle Tennessee has the easiest.

In 2009, South Carolina had the toughest schedule according to Steele. The Gamecocks finished the season 7-6 overall and 3-5 in the SEC. The easiest schedule in 2009? Kent State, and they finished 5-7 and 4-4 in the MAC.

Listed below are Phil Steele’s 10 toughest schedules for 2010 (complete list):

  1. Iowa State (2009 ranking: 61) – The Iowa State Cyclones have the toughest schedule in 2010 according to Steele. The Cyclones open the season with Northern Illinois at home on a Thursday night followed by a non-conference game at Iowa. Next is a matchup with Kansas State in Kansas City, followed by Northern Iowa at home. A grueling 6-game stretch is next: Texas Tech and Utah at home, at Oklahoma, at Texas and then Kansas and Nebraska at home. The Cyclones close out 2010 with a trip to Colorado and then home against Missouri.
  2. South Carolina (2009 ranking: 1) – The South Carolina Gamecocks had the toughest ranked schedule in 2009. This year they come in second. The Gamecocks open the season with Southern Miss at home on a Thursday night followed by an SEC contest at home against Georgia. After a home game against Furman, Carolina plays at Auburn, followed by an open date and then home against national champion Alabama. South Carolina later hosts Tennessee and Arkansas and travels to Florida and Clemson.
  3. UCLA (2009 ranking: 38) – The Bruins open the season at Kansas State. They also have non-conference games at home against Houston and at Texas. Pac-10 games include Oregon State, Stanford, USC, at Arizona State, at Oregon and at Washington.
  4. Mississippi State (2009 ranking: 4) – Mississippi State has the 4th toughest schedule for the 2nd straight year. The Bulldogs will host non-conference opponents Memphis and UAB and will travel to Houston. SEC games include Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, at Alabama, at Florida, at LSU and at Ole Miss.
  5. Minnesota (2009 ranking: 5) – The Golden Gophers’ schedule is also ranked the same as in 2010. They start the season at Middle Tennessee before hosting the USC Trojans and Northern Illinois. Big Ten games include Iowa, Ohio State, Penn State, at Illinois, at Michigan State and at Wisconsin.
  6. Oregon State (2009 ranking: 55) – The Beavers open 2010 with a tough game against TCU at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington, Texas. After an off week, they host Louisville and then travel to Boise State. Pac-10 games include Arizona State, California, Oregon, USC, at Stanford, at UCLA and at Washington.
  7. Washington (2009 ranking: 16) – Washington opens the season with three straight non-conference games: at BYU and then home against Syracuse and Nebraska. Pac-10 foes include, Arizona State, Stanford, UCLA, at Oregon, at USC and at Washington State.
  8. Miami (FL) (2009 ranking: 12) – After opening against FCS team Florida A&M, the Hurricanes travel to Ohio State, have an off week and then travel to Pittsburgh. Miami faces a tough ACC slate: Florida State, Maryland, North Carolina, Virginia Tech, at Clemson and at Georgia Tech. The Canes close the season at home against USF.
  9. Duke (2009 ranking: 58) – The Blue Devils host the national champion Alabama Crimson Tide. They also host Army and play at Navy. ACC games include Boston College, Miami (FL), North Carolina, at Georgia Tech, at Maryland and at Virginia Tech.
  10. LSU (2009 ranking: 21) – The Tigers open 2010 against North Carolina in the 2010 Chick-fil-A College Kickoff. LSU also hosts West Virginia and ULM in non-conference games. SEC contests include Alabama, Ole Miss, Tennessee, at Arkansas, at Auburn and at Florida.

A Big 12 school owns the toughest schedule, but the SEC and Pac-10 have three teams each in the The Top 10. The ACC has two schools, followed by the Big Ten with one.

The rest of the Top 25 in Phil Steele’s toughest schedule rankings are:

(11) Florida State, (12) Vanderbilt, (13) Washington State, (14) NC State, (15) Alabama, (16) Penn State, (17) Notre Dame, (18) Florida, (19) Auburn, (20) Colorado, (21) Illinois, (22) Oklahoma, (23) Texas A&M, (24) North Carolina, (25) UNLV

What do you think of Phil Steels’s rankings? Discuss them in the comments below.

Comments (30)

Tennessee should be in there somewhere they play Oregon Florida at LSU Alabama at UGA and at South Carolina

He’s got the Vols at 26. I’m guessing they got penalized for scheduling UT-Martin. Oregon, UAB and Memphis is a decent non-conference schedule.

Like most schedule ranking, Steele’s are fundamentally flawed as they fail to take into account quality of competition. They simply take into account opponents win loss when they, at a minimum take to the next level and account for opponents schedules as well.

I agree, most are flawed. In most cases there isn’t a concrete method for determining how a team will play months from now. Especially with the addition/subtraction of players and coaches.

Are you kidding me? I bought Steele’s magazine and I can tell you he is dead wrong

San Jose State,based on the talent on hand,has by FAR the roughest schedule

at Alabama
at Wisconsin
at Utah

mix in Boise State and Fresno State and thats a ballcrushing schedule from hell….

San Jose State? Really?

I’ll give you Bama, Wisconsin, and Boise. Maybe Utah. Fresno???

Then throw in Southern Utah, UC Davis, Nevada, NM State, Utah St, Hawaii, La Tech, and Idaho.

clearly. I don’t see how that’s not the hardest schedule in the nation!!! By far!!!!! hahaha.

I have to throw Alabama in there because everyone they play this year has a bye week before they play them.Add to the fact they are the reining champs and predicted to win it again and the target on their back is bigger than they are.For that reason,they should have the hardest schedule in the country.

Look at LSU. They play a tough SEC west schedule, plus Florida and Tennessee. Out of conference they open with North Carolina and later play West Virginia. No one has that type of schedule.

Sorry but I have to throw in my hat for the Wyoming Cowboys. They face Texas on the road, Boise St. at home and TCU again on the road. That’s 3 top 10 preseason teams in the first 6 weeks. Utah is a top 25 team, BYU could potentially break the top 25 as well. That’s a pretty brutal schedule for any team.

I totally agree! 5 of there first 6 games were all against top 25 teams, and let alone, at that time 3 of them were in the top 5! I understand there in the mtn west but for them to not be in the top 25 for toughest schedules is absolutely unreal.

iowa state plays 2 good teams how can u say they have the hardest schedule? are u retarded? imma clemson fan and our schedule is three times harder and bama and miami play like seven really good teams.

Really dude? Grow up there for real. What else do they need to prove to you? You obviously know little to nothing about college football.

Boise State plays NOBODY… Sure they dominate the teams they play, but that’s like varsity playin pee-wee teams. Of course they’ll win, but until they play a much rougher schedule, we can’t say for sure they are a truly awesome team and deserve a title shot. Roll tide!!

True, we cant say for sure that theyre deserving. but we also cant say that they arent AS GOOD. they may not deserve a chance, in that they havent battled like AQ teams, but they may very well be just as good fi not better then every other team in the country. Other then maybe having too rough a time against V-Tech and Ore-st, there is no evidence that they arent as good of a team. Nowhere along the line have they slipped up, they continue to beat every team they play. Unfortunately for them those teams arent consistently good enough for Boise to prove their worth. We wont know untill they schedule the absolute best teams in the country for their out of conference sched, or just join a different conference. That, or we get a !@#$!@# playoff system.

1. Alabama should have been higher up there. They play in the SEC, and for their last 6 conference games the team they play has a bye week before. They also have the target of being the team to beat and should draw everyone’s best game.
2. Boise State is not a joke, anyone who doesn’t realize the genius of a team that wins EVERYTHING is a moron. They do not have a strong schedule, but they find ways to win every single game, including their bowls against “better” teams. No matter how “good” a team is, if they find a way to win EVERY game they are the best.
3. Iowa State definitely has the hardest schedule, if you want to move someone else onto this list and have a good point, sure, but anyone who doesn’t think Iowa State should be #1 on this list has 0 knowledge of college football.
3b. IOWA has a hard schedule but should go 10 and 3, a “neutral site” game against KANSAS STATE who should go 10 and 3, TEXAS TECH who is under a new coach and not at it’s top game but should go 9 and 4 at the worst, UTAH has a weak schedule but will be going 12 and 1 with 2 top 25 wins and the bowl win, @ OKLAHOMA who will go 12 and 2 in the Big 12, @ TEXAS who are young, but will go 9 and 4 at the worst, NEBRASKA who will go 13 and 1 and win the Big 12, @ COLORADO is still a road game and will go 8 and 5, and then bring in MIZZOU (who will go 11 and 2) to close out the season. That is a ridiculously hard schedule. 7 of them will have 9+ wins in the Big 12, and Iowa and Utah will have 10 and 12 wins respectively with significant challenges on their schedule. Iowa state by far has the hardest schedule.
4. Cory you are a moron.

Nice predictions. You need all those teams to win out to match your predictions other than Utah. And I love how you’re giving all of them bowl wins, not knowing at all who they will play. I think you’re the moron, not Cory.

Tennessee, first they play in sec, the best conference, second they played soon to be national chapions Oregon and finally south Carolina has not got the 2nd best in the nation

Alabama by far has the toughest schedule of any college team. They play 5 games against SEC teams who are coming off of bye-weeks. Show me another team in any level of football who is playing a schedule like that. Even if the teams are not in the top 25, it is still the SEC, no other conference has the upsets every year that the SEC has, so the toughest schedule every year should be from the SEC.

the pac ten consistently has crazy upsets. i think that the SEC has the most strength at the top, but the PAc ten is sometimes deeper. this year a number of teams have struggled, but last year, and i expect, next year, there will be incredible depth. Wash state is consistently crap. but they have definitely been competitive this year against good teams, and i expect growth from them. Calis an upset machine at home and just got the 15th ranked recruiting class. Ucla is still rebuilding but has some random and very quality wins this year against texas and Houston. Washington went 5-7 last year, Keith price played well against oregon, and their running game is getting going fast. with sarkesian at the helm i expect a very solid team out of washington, soon. USC… is USC. regardless of kiffen, sanctions, their shit defense.. anything, theyre always going to be USC. and just pulled in another amazing class. OREGON IS A BEAST. Oregon state is solid. Arizona state is solid. Arizona is solid. THE WHOLE CONFERENCE COMPETES. ITS UNDENIABLE. PAC 10 = deepest conference. oh and we just added utah, so that should add some talent

Arkansas after this season is all said and done will have played 10 bowl teams…how many other schools besides maybe bama can say that?

I’m a Razorback fan, I notice that 6 teams that the Hogs play are listed in your top 25 list,how is it that they get no mention on your ranking?

On the other end of the spectrum, Auburn has had the easiest schedule in the SEC, and a much easier schedule than any national championship contender should have. That explains a lot of their success this season (that and their criminal quarterback). They played a total of only 4 road games, and they won 3 of those by 3 points or less. Of course, it’s always difficult for an SEC team to win every regular season game, but ANY of the 6 ranked SEC teams could have an undefeated season with a schedule like Auburn’s. If Oregon and Auburn play for the national championship, Oregon will destroy them.

what about n.d? every team but one is bowl eligible that they played. they played stanford,michigan,mich st,utah.usc,at boston college and pitt. not saying top ten but where do they fall.

Where’s Bama?! They had a really rough schedule this year. Every team they played had a bye-week right before it! Plus, with them winning the championship last year, every team knows they have to play their best to beat them, placing a big target on their backs. I think there should be more SEC teams on here in general, all of them play some of the best teams in the country. I know LSU played at least 5 of the teams that ended up being in the top 25, and how many did teams TCU play? Hardly any, if none!! TCU just bothers me the most, every week they just breeze on by playing horrible teams, and LSU and Bama, both good teams, lose a couple because they’re playing the top teams in the country, and drop on down the rankings, behind TCU. So what if they’re undefeated? Every team in the SEC would be too if they had schedules like that…

Trying to find access to current strength of schedule rankings; can you suggest a resource or do you have updated rankings to date available? Thnx for your Insight.