There’s this down period of the football calendar year where there really isn’t much to talk about, so fans look towards the upcoming fall and discuss things such as “strength of schedule”.
Of course, opponents and locations of games are important, but at this point, strength of schedule is entirely based upon last season’s performances. In most cases, teams aren’t exactly the same, so measuring a school’s strength of schedule must be looked upon with a considerable grain of salt.
Apparently, Athlon Sports agrees that measuring strength of schedule is not an exact science. In two different articles written this week, the website ranked LSU as owning the hardest strength of schedule in the conference while the other piece gave it to Florida.
Here’s what Cody McClure of Athlon Sports said about LSU’s 2017 slate, which he ranked the hardest in the SEC:
For LSU, it’s not just who the Tigers play, but when they have to play them — and that makes this arguably college football’s most difficult schedule in 2017. There aren’t any overly-challenging games against non-conference opponents outside of a neutral site game vs. BYU in which LSU should be favored. But the way the schedule sets up is the brutal part. The Tigers’ last seven games of the season: at Florida, Auburn, at Ole Miss, at Alabama, Arkansas, at Tennessee, Texas A&M. That’s the definition of difficult.
But on Kyle Kensing’s list of top 25 most difficult schedules in the country, Florida is ranked sixth while LSU is 19th.
Florida’s scheduling has been a target for derision some in recent years — not because the Gators don’t see competition in the SEC, nor for playing an annual date with Florida State. However, UF has built a reputation for not leaving the Sunshine State unless the conference mandates that. Jim McElwain’s club refutes that in 2017, opening the season in Texas for the Cowboys Classic against Michigan.
Michigan and Florida State book-end a tough, but not overly cumbersome schedule. Florida avoids SEC West heavyweight Alabama, and gets each of Texas A&M, LSU and Tennessee at home.
It should also be noted Kensing also had Alabama and Auburn ahead of LSU at No. 10 and 16, respectively, on his national list. McClure ranked Florida second behind LSU on his SEC only list. South Carolina followed at No. 3. Alabama, who was 10th on the national list, had its schedule rated ninth-hardest on the SEC list.
Clearly, even strength of schedule – which is really only supposed to be an added up total of opponents’ win percentages from last season – can be subjective.