The SEC dominates the strength of schedule rankings for the 2016 season, but no team faces a tougher slate than LSU.
Based on each team’s 2015 season, LSU’s 2016 opponents finished with a combined 108-52 record, the highest for any team in the nation. While the slate of SEC West opponents do plenty to boost that total for LSU, non-conference games against Wisconsin, Jacksonville State and South Alabama — three teams that finished a combined 28-12 — also up the Tigers’ opponent win total.
Just behind the Tigers in the strength of schedule rankings are Arkansas, Mississippi and Auburn, as the four SEC schools are the only ones in the nation facing a slate of teams in 2016 that won at least 64 percent of their games last season combined.
ESPN’s Phil Steele raised criticisms of the strength of schedule rankings on Saturday, saying records from previous seasons aren’t the most accurate metric to judge the toughness of schedule.
One of Steele’s alternate forms of evaluating strength of schedule was to evaluate how many 2016 opponents finished the year in the top 25. Wisconsin and Illinois led the way with six top 25 opponents each, just ahead of several teams facing five, including Arkansas.
Alabama, Arkansas, LSU and Ole Miss are four of only seven teams that will face 10 opponents that finished 2015 with a winning record.