Strength of schedule: 2018 mid-season rankings

By Kevin Kelley -

We’ve reached the mid-point of the 2018 college football season, which means it’s time to review the strength of schedule rankings (SOS) as they stand now.

There are several sources for strength of schedule, including several computer components. Note that these rankings are for strength of schedule to date and will differ from preseason rankings.

For comparison purposes, we will use Phil Steele’s preseason strength of schedule rankings. Click the title to view the complete rankings for each source.

Preseason Strength of Schedule Rankings

Phil Steele

  1. UCLA
  2. Purdue
  3. Michigan
  4. Oregon State
  5. Florida State
  6. Nebraska
  7. Arizona State
  8. Texas
  9. Maryland
  10. LSU

The UCLA Bruins, currently 1-5 overall and 1-2 in the Pac-12, topped Phil Steele’s preseason list. The Bruins have remaining games at home vs. Arizona, Utah, USC, and Stanford and on the road at (12) Oregon and Arizona State.

Mid-Season Strength of Schedule Rankings

Anderson & Hester

Anderson & Hester’s strength of schedule rankings are led by the SEC with four teams and the Big 12 with three teams in the Top 10. The Pac-12 follows with two. South Carolina has played the toughest schedule according to this computer index.

  1. South Carolina
  2. UCLA
  3. Iowa State
  4. Stanford
  5. Vanderbilt
  6. TCU
  7. Oklahoma
  8. Nebraska
  9. LSU
  10. Florida

Colley Matrix

UCLA tops the strength of schedule rankings in the Colley Matrix. The Bruins are second in Anderson & Hester and Sagarin (see below). UCLA is followed by FCS Group 10 and Stanford. See Colley’s site for an explanation of FCS Groupings.

  1. UCLA
  2. FCS Group 10
  3. Stanford
  4. South Carolina
  5. LSU
  6. FCS Group 14
  7. Iowa State
  8. Nebraska
  9. FCS Group 12
  10. Texas A&M

Jeff Sagarin

Jeff Sagarin has the Iowa State Cyclones ranked first. UCLA comes in second and is ranked in the Top 6 of four of the computer rankings.

  1. Iowa State
  2. UCLA
  3. Nebraska
  4. Missouri
  5. South Carolina
  6. LSU
  7. Minnesota
  8. Northwestern
  9. Tennessee
  10. Stanford

Kenneth Massey

Iowa State tops the strength of schedule rankings in the Massey Ratings, followed by Nebraska and Missouri. This index also ranks Texas 8th and Michigan State 9th, two teams that don’t appear in the Top 10 of the other computer indexes.

  1. Iowa State
  2. Nebraska
  3. Missouri
  4. South Carolina
  5. LSU
  6. UCLA
  7. Northwestern
  8. Texas
  9. Michigan State
  10. Stanford

Billingsley Rankings

Billingsley is the only computer index to rank LSU’s schedule as the toughest. They also rank UCLA’s schedule 19th, whereas every other index has the Bruins in the Top 6.

  1. LSU
  2. Iowa State
  3. Vanderbilt
  4. Pitt
  5. Texas A&M
  6. Notre Dame
  7. BYU
  8. Washington
  9. South Carolina
  10. Stanford

Just looking at each of the rankings, UCLA and Iowa State have played the toughest schedule in the eyes of the computer indexes. UCLA’s 2018 schedule was ranked 1st and Iowa State’s schedule was ranked 17th in Phil Steele’s preseason rankings.

According to the Sagarin ratings, here are the top 10 divisions in schedule strength:

  1. SEC West
  2. Big Ten East
  3. SEC East
  4. Big 12
  5. ACC Atlantic
  6. Pac-12 South
  7. Pac-12 North
  8. Big Ten West
  9. ACC Coastal
  10. MWC Mountain

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Comment (1)

The Catherwood Rating System, which varies from all the above in that it considers the ENTIRE schedule for the season, regardless of if the teams have played yet or not, has the following Top-10 list of Strength of Schedule rankings:

1. UCLA
2. Louisville
3. Texas A&M
4. Oregon St
5. Florida St
6. Pitt
7. Nebraska
8. Purdue
9. Clemson
10. South Carolina