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Comparing Strength of Schedule - Top 5 Preseason Teams

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CFP National Championship presented by AT&T - Alabama v Georgia Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

I don’t know about you, but it still feels like Football Season is entirely too far away and I needed something football to keep me busy. Numbers appeal to me so I thought I’d wander off to look at the pre-season Strength of Schedule possibilities for the teams with possible playoff hopes. Based solely on pre-season rankings, I give you your Playoff Teams. This information is provided purely for entertainment purposes and no warranties are expressed or implied. No guarantees are offered and no refunds will be given.

Preseason rankings from Phil Steele/247 Sports, Athlon & Sporting News all show the 2019 Georgia Bulldogs in the top 5. They also all show Alabama and Clemson as 1 and 2 respectively. After that, there is less agreement with Ohio State, Georgia, Washington, OU and Michigan all included somewhere by someone.

Here’s the top 5 rankings from each source and my combined rankings:

Top 5 Preseason Teams

Ranking Phil Steele/247 Sporting News Athlon Combined
Ranking Phil Steele/247 Sporting News Athlon Combined
1 Alabama Alabama Alabama Alabama
2 Clemson Clemson Clemson Clemson
3 Ohio State Georgia Georgia Georgia/Ohio State
4 Washington Ohio State Ohio State Washington
5 Georgia OU Michigan OU/Michigan

We all know the College Football Playoff Committee considers Strength of Schedule in their rankings, so I thought we’d take a look at the SoS for ourselves and our competition.

Since Athlon ranks the top 130 schools, those are the rankings I used for all opponents. I added up the total ranks of all opponents for each team without considering any impact for home vs. away games. The result of the pure ranking calculation is:

Top 5 Strength of Schedule Rank

Rank Team Sum of Ranks
Rank Team Sum of Ranks
1 Washington 461
2 Ohio State 544
3 Clemson 625
4 Georgia 628
5 OU 633
6 Michigan 693
7 Alabama 699

The lowest combined opponent ranking thus equals the most difficult schedule. Unranked teams were all assumed to be ranked 131st.

Georgia plays two unranked opponents in Austin-Peay and Middle Tennessee, the most of any of the top 5 teams. Ohio State, OU and Michigan each play only top 130 ranked teams. The lowest ranked opponent of each team is: Oregon State, Army, and Western Michigan. Alabama, Clemson & Washington each play 1 unranked team. Respectively those teams are: Citadel, Furman, and North Dakota.

Georgia’s SoS falls right in the middle of the top teams while Washington takes the top spot and Alabama falls last in the line.

In the impossible situation where all 7 teams were undefeated*, the SoS shows Georgia in the Playoffs in the #4 position after Washington, Ohio State and Clemson. Alabama is out of playoff contention.

For this season, the semi-final games will be played at the Orange Bowl and Cotton Bowl. At #1, Washington goes to the Cotton Bowl and takes on #4 Georgia while Ohio State and Clemson battle it out in the Orange Bowl.

There’s a whole pile of good and bad things that can happen between now and the day the final rankings come out, so I wouldn’t buy my Cotton Bowl tickets or put any real money on it.

Still too many days until Football starts, until then.....

Go Dawgs!!!

*Ohio State and Michigan play one another so they can’t both be undefeated.