Steele’s preseason strength of schedule rankings

He’s posted them over at the Orlando Sentinel’s college football blog.  I prefer his methodology to that of the NCAA’s, which merely ranks opponents according to their won-loss records for the prior season.  As Steele notes,

… in my toughest schedule ranking LSU, which was 8-5 last year and is a Top 10 team, is graded by their 2009 power rating and not last year’s 8-5 record. Using the NCAA method a team like Utah that was 13-0 last year but has just 12 returning starters is graded as a much tougher opponent due to last year’s record. Also a IAA (or FCS) team with a winning record from last year is graded to be a much tougher opponent than a team such as Illinois which was 5-7 last year, but is a team I think will be in a Jan bowl. Also Michigan is a legitimate bowl squad this year but you only get credit for playing a weak 3-9 team using last year’s record.

Anyway, here’s how the SEC schools show in his rankings:

  • South Carolina – 1
  • Mississippi State – 4
  • Arkansas – 6
  • Georgia – 7
  • Tennessee – 9
  • Auburn – 15
  • LSU – 21
  • Vanderbilt – 23
  • Florida  – 34
  • Kentucky – 52
  • Alabama – 68
  • Mississippi – 77

Mississippi is getting a lot of slack for its schedule – not without reason, mind you – but it looks like if Alabama can get past its opener with Virginia Tech, Saban’s crew should have some pretty smooth sailing too.

On the other hand, all three of the new coaches seem to have choppy waters to handle.  As do Spurrier and Petrino.

It’s all worth factoring into your assessments of how the conference season will play out in 2009.

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