ND Haters love to talk about how weak ND’s schedule is, was, and always will be.
Lately, ND Fans do a lot of the same.
Both are wrong. So wrong it’s practically insane.
Looking at Sagarin’s SOS ratings since 1998 shows that the Irish consistently played a very difficult schedule, with the exception of the ’08 and ’09 seasons (where the Irish just played a schedule of greater than average difficulty that was still no cakewalk, relatively speaking).
Here are ND’s SOS Rankings for that time period, 98 to 09:
36, 10, 24, 14, 14, 1, 5, 14, 18, 24, 50, 37.
And this year Steele put us at 17 preseason.
ND AVERAGED the 20th most difficult schedule over that time period. And the ‘weak’-est? 50th. 10 spots better than the median if you’re only considering FBS programs.
ND takes on tough schedules. A rank of 37 is not an ‘easy’ or weak schedule. It’s in the top 1/3rd! A rank of 50 isn’t even ‘easy’, it’s just average. It’s less difficult than 17, but EASY is a rank of 90. Easy is what Boise State had last year (rank 96), what Penn State had last year (73), and what Utah had last year (75).
17 is not weak. 17 is not easy. Yes, I agree that some of the matchups this Fall are not all that interesting, but compare the cupcake portion of our schedule to that of every SEC/BigTweleven/Whatever team out there, and you’ll see much greater competition across from the Irish than most of those squads. WMU isn’t a game that screams matchup of the century, but it’s much better than Podunk U. Geez, our ‘gimme’ game with Navy (it’s in quotes bc it’s in no way a gimme) is a game against a perennial bowl team. The fact that they’re Navy is irrelevant, they’re freaking GOOD lately!
ND takes all comers, at least compared to the rest of the teams in CFB. But still, some fans think we should play a schedule of Bama, UF, USC, Miami, Michigan, MSU, BC, Pitt, Stanford, LSU, Navy, Tennessee and that we should STILL go undefeated and take home the MNC. Insane.
I am starting to rant. I leave it at this: this perception of a weak schedule is False. ND’s weakest schedule since 1998 was more difficult than 60% of FBS schedules that year. And we average 20th, which means we’ve faced a schedule that is, on average, more difficult than 85% of FBS teams YEAR IN AND YEAR OUT. I haven’t run the numbers, but go ahead and look up SEC teams’ schedules. Look up any Tweleven team out there. You’ll be hard-pressed to find any team averaging a schedule like that.
Weak schedules my ass.
That is all.