Notre Dame’s Strength of Schedule Visualized

Strength of schedule is by far one of our favorite topics to discuss here at HLS. With conference’s becoming more insular in their scheduling, the need to trumpet the gauntlet of a schedule that Notre Dame plays in becomes incredibly important to break the conference narrative.

Enter Brian Freamau, member of the advanced statistics site, Football Outsiders, who came up with the  efficiency rating, FEI, that is an essential competent of the F/+ rating, which is another favorite of ours to use (and has been in every opponent preview this season). As a part of the FEI rating, Brian has calculated his own strength of schedule rating on his personal site, BCF Toys.

But that’s a hell of a lot of sports math on a single page right? And truthfully, data visualization is so crucial to make such huge tables of data easily digestible. Well, thanks to his friends at Chartball.com, Brian has managed to do just that. Behold the SOS of all of college football:

via BCF Toys

via BCF Toys

And the SOS for ND:

via BCF Toys

via BCF Toys

Here’s a better look at the ND SOS when the chart is organized by FEI rank:

via BCF Toys

via BCF Toys

How about the SOS for each conference?

via BCF Toys

via BCF Toys

And that view just might be my favorite.

We always hear how the SEC has the toughest schedules in all of college football. In fact, we heard this ad nauseum when Notre Dame was about to take on Alabama in the championship game two seasons ago. However, that big gray dot in the “others” section shows Notre Dame with schedule that is right in the thick of it when compared to the SEC. Hilariously enough, Alabama has the weakest SEC schedule.

Even more interesting to me is how the Pac-12 stacks right up there with the SEC. In fact, their schedules are collectively tougher on average than the SEC. With Oregon and Stanford holding down the fort with consistently great seasons, teams like UCLA and Arizona State on the rise, and the persistent threat that is Southern Cal, this really shouldn’t be a surprise to us.

Also not surprising: the B1G having the worst SOS out of the “power 5″ conferences. That dot all the way to the left side of shame? That’s Iowa.

Other fun notes:

  • Utah just edges out Auburn for top SOS pre-season
  • The worst SOS by quite a bit: Marshall
  • That huge outlying dot on the left side of shame in the Big XII? Oklahoma.
  • The two teams taking it easy this season in the ACC: Duke and Pitt.

I’ve asked Brian if this will be updated throughout the season and he stated it will update along with his weekly FEI ratings (which in turn give him new SOS ratings). I can’t wait to play with this all season and see how this chart moves throughout 2014, especially when the playoff debate heats up.

Be sure to head over to BCF Toys and give it a spin. It’s a great waste of time.

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  • The Subway Domer

    Well done

    • http://www.herloyalsons.com Ryan Ritter

      Thank Brian, not me!

      • bcfremeau

        Well thanks for helping promote!

        • http://www.herloyalsons.com Ryan Ritter

          Thanks for putting this out there!

          /r/cfb seems to be quite fond of this as well. Kudos, sir!

  • domelover

    Love the article (and Freamau in general), but keep in mind that strong teams like Alabama who you called out don’t have to play themselves in their conference schedule. Can’t fault them for that…

    • http://www.herloyalsons.com Ryan Ritter

      Yes; however you can fault them for playing FAU and Southern Miss in their OOC schedule.

      It also drives home a good reason why conferences suck: you are forced to stick to a certain slate and your SOS is completely dependent on whether or not the rest of conference can perform. The inverse of this is the B1G, a conference mostly full of junk.

  • Julio M. Houmani-Chavez

    I guess I’ve never understood why we want to have such a strong schedule. it almost certainly ensures that ND will have at least 2 losses and zero shot at the playoff system. Compare this to the cupcake schedule Ohio State plays– unless they have a major gaff, they will cruise their schedule undefeated and straight into the playoffs. Hey, I love marquee games, but if the point is to get into the playoff system, to schedule things the way ND is makes it real hard to ever get to the promised land again.

    • Julio M. Houmani-Chavez

      I sure would like to be able to have Maryland, Rutgers, Indiana, Illinois, Kent State, Cincinnati, and Penn State on my schedule too. Sure makes things easy when you play, at most, one tough opponent all year. I assure you that NOBODY will say that an undefeated OSU, despite their schedule, doesn’t belong in the final four this year.

      • Julio M. Houmani-Chavez

        Oops. I forgot to include Navy, Indiana and Minnesota as well. This is OSU’s schedule, plus Michigan (unranked) and Michigan State. This is their whole year.

        • trey

          According to the committee, SOS will play a part in the equation so cupcake schedules will end up hurting those teams

          • Julio M. Houmani-Chavez

            I hope to God that’s true. I can already hear OsU fans whining when in reality, they have the easiest possible schedule

        • http://www.herloyalsons.com Ryan Ritter

          Personally, I _love_ that our schedule is strong. It keeps the whole season interesting and (as mentioned below) it should matter come playoff deliberations.

          In my mind, it’s the way college football should be played. Take on all comers, not just the people within the same regional area.