SEC football strength of schedule: CBS Sports ranks 14 schedules from 1st to worst
It’s already early June, which means college football is (hopefully) just around the corner.
Players are starting to return to campus following the outbreak of the coronavirus this spring. Multiple scheduling options are still on the table for the 2020 season, but all indications are that some sort of season will happen.
Will it involve fans in the stands? That’s left to be determined and could vary based on state. Thankfully, decision-makers have about 3 full months to make those crucial choices.
CBS Sports’ Tom Fornelli ranked the SEC’s 14 schedules for the upcoming season, and his methodology is below.
Methodology: I rank all 130 teams using use a statistical model that judges teams based on their performances in games. My opinion plays no role in it. History often gives us the best glimpse into the future, so I use rankings from the previous seasons to get an idea of how good any given team can expect to be in the next season. Teams are then given a weight that coincides with their past performance, and these weights are applied when going through each team’s schedule.
I then add or subtract additional weights based on where and when the game is being played. Road games are more difficult than home games, for example, and playing a Thursday night game after playing the previous Saturday adds a degree of difficulty. Playing eight straight weeks without a bye does, too.
After inputting all of this information, a number is produced that shows a team’s projected strength of schedule. One thing to keep in mind before you go through these rankings is that the best teams in a conference are at somewhat of a disadvantage compared to their conference mates as they do not get to play themselves. That naturally hinders its SOS against the other programs in the conference that do face it. Conversely, the worst team doesn’t play itself, and that impacts the floor of its SOS projection.
What do the scores mean? The overall score is the team’s SOS compared to the average SOS of all 130 FBS teams. For example, 21.34% is better than average. A negative score indicates below average. Colorado (39.19%) will enter 2020 with the toughest projected schedule among Power Five teams, while Syracuse (-6.40%) will have the easiest. The conference score is the same principle, but it is strictly in relation to the average score of the schedules within that team’s conference.
Fornelli’s methodology ranked Arkansas with the most brutal schedule in the SEC. That’s not great news for Sam Pittman and company, but things can’t get much worse from the Chad Morris era. Hopefully, it won’t get worse before it gets better.
The most favorable schedule in the SEC? According to Fornelli, that would be the Gators, and it’s safe to say that Florida State being down hurt the Gators’ strength of schedule. Florida will also play only 4 true road games in 2020.
Below are CBS Sports’ strength of schedule rankings:
1. Arkansas Razorbacks
2. Tennessee Volunteers
3. Vanderbilt Commodores
4. South Carolina Gamecocks
5. Ole Miss Rebels
6. Alabama Crimson Tide
7. Auburn Tigers
8. Mississippi State Bulldogs
9. LSU Tigers
10. Kentucky Wildcats
11. Georgia Bulldogs
12. Texas A&M Aggies
13. Missouri Tigers
14. Florida Gators