Phil Steele breaks it down according to the NCAA rankings, which is just a raw analysis based solely on opponents’ won-loss records from the prior season, regardless of quality. Steele calls it a “good starting point”, but that may be a little generous.
The returning National Champion Ohio St Buckeyes play 4 non-conference opponents in Virginia Tech, Hawaii, Northern Illinois and Western Michigan this year. These 4 teams finished last season 7-6, 4-9, 11-3, and 8-5 for a combined 30-23 record. Add that to the record of 56-46 which is the combined total for Ohio State’s 2015 Big 10 opponents from last year giving you a total of 86-69. In the chart below you will find that OSU ranks #42.
Meh, in other words. But it’s a list! And it’s early March!
So note that Georgia’s 2015 schedule ranks tenth on that list. The only SEC East team facing a tougher opponents’ winning percentage is Kentucky, at number five.
Steele does make a good effort to shed a little more illumination on the list, by compiling the number of games each team has against schools that had winning records last season, schools that were bowl eligible and schools that were ranked. Here’s how the East looks with those, in descending order of NCAA SOS:
- Kentucky – 10/9/5
- Georgia – 9/8/4
- South Carolina – 8/9/5
- Tennessee – 9/8/4
- Vanderbilt – 10/9/4
- Florida – 8/8/5
- Missouri – 8/8/2
Roughly comparable, except for Missouri’s low number against ranked teams. (Which is another reason to consider the Tigers one of the favorites in the East this season.)
By the way, no team in the SEC West plays less than five games against 2014 ranked teams, and three – Alabama, Arkansas and Auburn – play seven of those.
Now of course the usual caveat of past performance not being a guarantee of future results applies here, so the real question about how meaningful these numbers are depends on whether the East improves this season from its collective 2014 showing. And we won’t know that for a while.