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NCAAF Strength-of-Schedule Rankings

Updated October 12th, 2021
Published June 5, 2020
  • See the strength-of-schedule rankings for all 130 FBS teams in 2021
  • Arkansas’ SEC slate rates as the toughest in the nation this season
  • No Pac-12 team is in the top 25

The 2021 college football season could be unlike any other thanks to coronavirus and the prospect of empty stadiums. But the on-field product should still look largely the same. The charts and graphs below set out the strength-of-schedule rankings for the season, assuming a modicum of home-field advantage still exists.

Even more so than strength of schedule calculations in the NFL, SOS in college football should not be based too heavily on last season’s power ratings. There is far too much roster turnover from year to year. The calculations and rankings below factor in opponents’ efficiency ratings from last season plus how much production teams are losing in 2021, recent recruiting rankings, and major incoming transfers.

Use the rankings below in conjunction with the 2021 NCAAF win totals to find soft spots in the underbelly of the college football futures.

Jump to: National Rankings | ACC Rankings | Big Ten Rankings | Big 12 Rankings | Pac-12 Rankings | SEC Rankings

2021 NCAAF Strength-of-Schedule Rankings

TEAM RANK SOS TOTAL
Arkansas 1 126.35
Kansas 2 118.21
Auburn 3 104.06
Texas 4 102.48
Oklahoma State 5 101.39
Baylor 6 101.11
Mississippi State 7 97.18
Kansas State 8 90.82
Notre Dame 9 87.29
Ole Miss 10 82.70
Georgia Tech 11 82.41
Iowa 12 75.31
Michigan 13 73.88
TCU 14 67.45
Purdue 15 65.64
Florida 16 65.10
Texas A&M 17 64.60
LSU 18 64.04
Texas Tech 19 62.22
Iowa State 20 60.73
Duke 21 58.47
West Virginia 22 57.65
Illinois 23 57.51
Nebraska 24 56.46
Wisconsin 25 54.27
Penn State 26 53.59
Tennessee 27 50.23
Stanford 28 50.06
Georgia 29 49.24
Rutgers 30 48.73
Florida State 31 47.14
Miami (FL) 32 45.95
Ohio State 33 45.75
Minnesota 34 44.96
Northwestern 35 41.46
UCLA 36 40.54
South Carolina 37 40.47
Oklahoma 38 38.79
Virginia Tech 39 34.02
Michigan State 40 33.54
Virginia 41 30.77
Louisville 42 24.90
Indiana 43 24.59
South Florida 44 22.06
Clemson 45 21.60
Missouri 46 21.50
NC State 47 21.39
USC 48 21.06
North Carolina 49 20.01
Alabama 50 16.24
Syracuse 51 14.82
Arizona 52 11.53
Utah 53 9.16
Maryland 54 9.15
Colorado 55 8.20
California 56 6.75
Georgia State 57 6.74
Washington 58 -1.30
Vanderbilt 59 -1.62
Tulsa 60 -3.74
Oregon State 61 -6.15
Western Michigan 62 -11.25
Wake Forest 63 -12.73
Tulane 64 -15.55
Navy 65 -16.38
Pittsburgh 66 -18.58
Boston College 67 -18.73
Washington State 68 -23.07
Oregon 69 -24.82
Kentucky 70 -25.65
Arkansas State 71 -35.45
East Carolina 72 -37.14
Georgia Southern 73 -37.75
Louisiana–Monroe 74 -38.53
SMU 75 -39.50
Colorado State 76 -40.13
Rice 77 -41.63
Cincinnati 78 -41.98
Memphis 79 -42.76
UNLV 80 -43.12
BYU 81 -47.11
Kent State 82 -49.15
Northern Illinois 83 -50.41
New Mexico State 84 -51.47
Louisiana 85 -51.52
Akron 86 -57.75
Boise State 87 -59.47
Arizona State 88 -60.77
North Texas 89 -63.58
Ball State 90 -64.55
Ohio 91 -64.85
Fresno State 92 -66.35
UAB 93 -70.44
Central Michigan 94 -70.52
Texas State 95 -70.55
UMass 96 -72.15
South Alabama 97 -72.15
Troy 98 -73.90
Temple 99 -74.50
Bowling Green 100 -78.21
UConn 101 -82.01
Appalachian State 102 -82.52
UCF 103 -89.29
Louisiana Tech 104 -92.25
Eastern Michigan 105 -93.75
Miami (OH) 106 -94.36
Utah State 107 -94.82
New Mexico 108 -96.46
Marshall 109 -97.01
Houston 110 -105.94
Wyoming 111 -106.68
Toledo 112 -111.56
Old Dominion 113 -116.26
Southern Miss 114 -118.51
San Diego State 115 -120.25
Middle Tennessee 116 -122.67
Western Kentucky 117 -123.03
Army 118 -125.45
Buffalo 119 -127.24
Florida Atlantic 120 -129.88
Coastal Carolina 121 -131.47
Nevada 122 -131.54
Liberty 123 -131.85
Air Force 124 -133.44
San Jose State 125 -135.68
UTSA 126 -139.08
FIU 127 -144.69
Charlotte 128 -145.49
Hawaii 129 -154.83
UTEP 130 -171.68

Notes on the SOS ratings:

  • The toughest hypothetical schedule (12 road games vs Alabama) would score 397.09.
  • The toughest schedule a team could play against 12 different opponents would score 276.31.
  • The toughest real schedule (Arkansas) scores 126.35, which is 31.82% as tough as the toughest hypothetical schedule.
  • The easiest hypothetical schedule against an FBS opponent (12 home games vs New Mexico State) would score -471.94.
  • The easiest real schedule (UTEP) scores -171.68 , which is 36.38% as easy as the easiest hypothetical schedule.
  • In theory, if FBS teams only played other FBS teams, the cumulative total of all the SOS scores would be zero. The team scores are a certain percentage above or below average. But in reality, the cumulative total of all the SOS scores is well below zero, because of dozens of games against FCS competition.

ACC Strength-of-Schedule Rankings

TEAM CONF. RANK NAT’L RANK SOS TOTAL
Georgia Tech 1 11 82.41
Duke 2 21 58.47
Florida State 3 31 47.14
Miami (FL) 4 32 45.95
Virginia Tech 5 39 34.02
Virginia 6 41 30.77
Louisville 7 42 24.90
Clemson 8 46 21.60
NC State 9 48 21.39
North Carolina 10 49 20.01
Syracuse 11 51 14.82
Wake Forest 12 63 -12.73
Pittsburgh 13 66 -18.58
Boston College 14 67 -18.73

Big Ten Strength-of-Schedule Rankings

TEAM CONF. RANK NAT’L RANK SOS TOTAL
Iowa 1 12 75.31
Michigan 2 13 73.88
Purdue 3 15 65.64
Illinois 4 23 57.51
Nebraska 5 24 56.46
Wisconsin 6 25 54.27
Penn State 7 26 53.59
Rutgers 8 30 48.73
Ohio State 9 33 45.75
Minnesota 10 34 44.96
Northwestern 11 35 41.46
Michigan State 12 40 33.54
Indiana 13 43 24.59
Maryland 14 54 9.15

Big 12 Strength-of-Schedule Rankings

TEAM CONF. RANK NAT’L RANK SOS TOTAL
Kansas 1 2 118.21
Texas 2 4 102.48
Oklahoma State 3 5 101.39
Baylor 4 6 101.11
Kansas State 5 8 90.82
TCU 6 14 67.45
Texas Tech 7 19 62.22
Iowa State 8 20 60.73
West Virginia 9 22 57.65
Oklahoma 10 38 38.79

Pac-12 Strength-of-Schedule Rankings

TEAM CONF. RANK  NAT’L RANK  SOS TOTAL
Stanford 1 28 50.06
UCLA 2 36 40.54
USC 3 48 21.06
Arizona 4 52 11.53
Utah 5 53 9.16
Colorado 6 55 8.20
California 7 56 6.75
Washington 8 58 -1.30
Oregon State 9 61 -6.15
Washington State 10 68 -23.07
Oregon 11 69 -24.82
Arizona State 12 88 -60.77

SEC Strength-of-Schedule Rankings

TEAM CONF. RANK NAT’L RANK SOS TOTAL
Arkansas 1 1 126.35
Auburn 2 3 104.06
Mississippi State 3 8 97.18
Ole Miss 4 11 82.70
Florida 5 17 65.10
Texas A&M 6 18 64.60
LSU 7 19 64.04
Tennessee 8 28 50.23
Georgia 9 30 49.24
South Carolina 10 38 40.47
Missouri 11 46 21.50
Alabama 12 50 16.24
Vanderbilt 13 59 -1.62
Kentucky 14 70 -25.65

The SEC rankings are ironic in some respects. The highest-ranked team, Alabama, is near the bottom largely because it does not have to play itself. But Vanderbilt, the weakest team in the conference is also near the bottom because the Commodores stacked their non-conference schedule with cupcakes. LSU, which projects as a middle-of-the-pack SEC team this season, is right in the middle in terms of SOS, but it’s not clear whether Louisiana sports betting will be active in time for the 2021-22 season.

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