In the beginning of April, and the final few Group of Five conferences have come out with their 2022 football schedules. Now that all have been released the debate over which team plays the toughest schedule can begin.
It is great that we are back to normal. Last year some teams played as few as four games in 2020 and some played as many as 13. This past year every team played a 12 games regular season with only Alabama and Georgia playing 15 games. That will make the schedule strength argument much more normal
There are many ways to calculate schedule strength. The most commonly used method is to combine opponents’ records from the previous season. Using this metric the toughest 2022 schedule belongs to Navy, whose opponents won 65.8% of their games in 2021. Vanderbilt (65.6%) comes in at #2 and Arkansas (65.0%) is number three. You can see by using this measurement UMass (39.5%), Louisiana (39.5%) and UCLA (42.6%) have the easiest schedules for 2022 based on using 2021’s final records for opponent strength.
I want to remind you that this is the NCAA’s method, not mine. My schedule strength is based on my 9 sets of power ratings for THIS years’ teams and not last years. Prior to 2019, the method used for this article said that Arizona St was facing the 113th most challenging schedule (17th easiest) as their opponents won only 45.3% of their games in 2018. I had Arizona St 64 spots higher in my strength of schedule rankings in the magazine and 7 of 12 of their opponents went on to play in bowl games, they faced four ranked teams and ended up taking on the 44th toughest schedule. It is clear that there were not 112 schedules tougher than Arizona State’s.
There are other ways to measure schedule strength. Who plays the most teams that had a winning record last year? Well, that method came up with two teams at the top. #1 on that list are Boise St and BYU which each play 10 teams that had winning records in 2021. Six teams (Navy, Vanderbilt, Arkansas, Auburn, Colorado St, Northwestern) each face 9 teams that had a winning record last year. Arkansas faces 12 teams that made the post season last year as Missouri St (coached by Bobby Petrino) made the FCS playoffs and 3 of their foes (LSU, Auburn, Missouri) all finished 6-7 by losing their bowl game. On the opposite end Louisiana, UCLA, Arkansas St and Duke all face just three opponents that had a winning record in 2010! UCLA and Louisiana each face just 3 teams that made it to the postseason last year
Another way to look at schedule strength would be how many opponents that finished in the Top 25 last year does a team face? Last year Florida St, Georgia Tech, Nebraska, Purdue, Kansas and Baylor all led the way with five games vs teams that finished in the Top 25 in 2020 and only ONE of the six teams managed to have a winning record last year (Baylor)! This year six teams again face five teams that finished 2021ranked. Those six teams are Mississippi State, Texas Tech, Syracuse, Vanderbilt, BYU, and Louisville. There are 20 teams that do not face any teams that finished in the top 25 in 2021.
I will have MY final schedule strength for 2022 in this year’s magazine. I send the last page of the magazine to the press on June 8th this year and it should hit the newsstands by July 4th. If you PRE order the magazine you get it before everyone else, get the digital version for FREE and get 4 months of Phil Steele Plus ($80 value) for FREE as well. We will start taking pre orders in the next couple of days.
Here is the complete list of all 131 FBS teams (Welcome James Madison!) with their cumulative record for each opponent they face this year, the total amount of ranked teams, bowl teams, and teams with a winning record.