2015 College Football Strength of Schedule – NCAA Method

By Kevin Kelley -

The Washington Huskies have the toughest 2015 football schedule according to the NCAA’s strength of schedule method. The NCAA method is based solely on the opponents’ win/loss record from the previous season.

The SEC leads with six teams in the Top 10 of the rankings — Arkansas (2), Alabama (4), Kentucky (5), Auburn (8), Texas A&M (10), and Georgia (10). The Big Ten and Pac-12 are second with two teams each, followed by the ACC with one.

Marshall, which won the Conference USA championship last season, has the easiest schedule according to the NCAA.

Listed below are the complete 2015 NCAA strength of schedule rankings with won/loss record and winning percentage of opponents.

Note: The NCAA method uses winning percentage of opponents, but excludes records of FCS teams and FBS Transitional teams. The data below includes these items.

2015 Preseason SOS Rankings

1. Washington – 101-56, 64.33%
2. Arkansas – 99-57, 63.46%
3. Miami, FL – 97-58, 62.58%
4. Alabama – 96-58, 62.34%
5. Kentucky – 95-58, 62.09%
6. Purdue – 97-61, 61.39%
7. California – 95-61, 60.90%
8. Auburn – 92-60, 60.53%
9. Michigan St – 95-62, 60.51%
10. Texas A&M – 93-61, 60.39%
10. Georgia – 93-61, 60.39%
12. Virginia – 94-62, 60.26%
13. Maryland – 95-63, 60.13%
14. Kansas – 93-62, 60.00%
14. Georgia Tech – 93-62, 60.00%
16. Boston College – 91-62, 59.48%
17. Iowa State – 92-63, 59.35%
17. BYU – 92-63, 59.35%
19. Utah – 93-65, 58.86%
20. Minnesota – 90-63, 58.82%
21. USC – 91-65, 58.33%
22. South Carolina – 89-64, 58.17%
22. UConn – 89-64, 58.17%
24. Tennessee – 89-65, 57.79%
25. Clemson – 88-65, 57.52%
26. Texas Tech – 89-66, 57.42%
26. Mississippi State – 89-66, 57.42%
28. LSU – 87-65, 57.24%
29. Vanderbilt – 87-66, 56.86%
29. West Virginia – 87-66, 56.86%
31. Michigan – 88-67, 56.77%
31. Arizona State – 88-67, 56.77%
33. Ole Miss – 87-67, 56.49%
33. Western Michigan – 87-67, 56.49%
35. Utah State – 88-68, 56.41%
36. SMU – 85-66, 56.29%
37. Stanford – 87-68, 56.13%
37. UNLV – 87-68, 56.13%
39. Colorado – 94-74, 55.95%
40. Florida State – 85-67, 55.92%
41. Florida – 86-68, 55.84%
42. Ohio State – 86-69, 55.48%
42. Washington State – 86-69, 55.48%
44. UTSA – 84-68, 55.26%
44. Texas – 84-68, 55.26%
46. Virginia Tech – 86-70, 55.13%
47. Southern Miss – 83-68, 54.97%
47. Louisville – 83-68, 54.97%
49. Fresno State – 85-70, 54.84%
50. Georgia State – 82-69, 54.30%
50. Penn State – 82-69, 54.30%
52. Northwestern – 83-70, 54.25%
52. Pittsburgh – 83-70, 54.25%
52. Illinois – 83-70, 54.25%
52. North Carolina – 83-70, 54.25%
52. Indiana – 83-70, 54.25%
57. San Jose State – 84-71, 54.19%
58. Arizona – 82-70, 53.95%
58. Oregon – 82-70, 53.95%
60. Louisiana Tech – 81-70, 53.64%
61. Notre Dame – 82-71, 53.59%
61. Wake Forest – 82-71, 53.59%
61. Nc State – 82-71, 53.59%
61. Rutgers – 82-71, 53.59%
65. Air Force – 83-72, 53.55%
66. FIU – 80-70, 53.33%
67. Nebraska – 82-72, 53.25%
68. Syracuse – 81-72, 52.94%
69. Oklahoma State – 79-72, 52.32%
69. Army – 79-72, 52.32%
71. Florida Atlantic – 77-71, 52.03%
72. USF – 79-73, 51.97%
73. Missouri – 78-73, 51.66%
74. Wyoming – 79-74, 51.63%
75. Miami, OH – 76-72, 51.35%
76. Ohio – 77-73, 51.33%
77. Troy – 76-73, 51.01%
78. Oregon State – 78-76, 50.65%
79. Idaho – 74-73, 50.34%
79. Central Michigan – 74-73, 50.34%
81. Middle Tennessee – 76-75, 50.33%
82. Hawaii – 84-84, 50.00%
82. Tulane – 75-75, 50.00%
82. UCLa – 76-76, 50.00%
82. New Mexico – 76-76, 50.00%
86. North Texas – 76-77, 49.67%
86. Boise State – 76-77, 49.67%
88. Baylor – 75-76, 49.67%
88. Tulsa – 75-76, 49.67%
88. Oklahoma – 75-76, 49.67%
91. Kansas State – 75-77, 49.34%
92. Kent State – 74-77, 49.01%
93. TCU – 74-78, 48.68%
94. South Alabama – 72-76, 48.65%
95. Wisconsin – 74-79, 48.37%
96. Eastern Michigan – 72-78, 48.00%
97. Rice – 71-77, 47.97%
98. Bowling Green – 70-77, 47.62%
99. Arkansas State – 70-79, 46.98%
100. Iowa – 65-74, 46.76%
101. WKU – 70-80, 46.67%
102. Northern Illinois – 70-81, 46.36%
102. Duke – 70-81, 46.36%
104. Temple – 69-80, 46.31%
105. New Mexico State – 68-79, 46.26%
105. Texas State – 68-79, 46.26%
107. Ball State – 70-82, 46.05%
108. Cincinnati – 69-81, 46.00%
109. Old Dominion – 68-80, 45.95%
110. Houston – 68-81, 45.64%
111. ULM – 73-88, 45.34%
112. Buffalo – 68-82, 45.33%
113. San Diego State – 64-78, 45.07%
114. East Carolina – 67-82, 44.97%
115. Colorado State – 69-85, 44.81%
116. Charlotte – 65-81, 44.52%
117. Toledo – 67-84, 44.37%
118. Appalachian State – 65-82, 44.22%
119. Navy – 65-84, 43.62%
120. Memphis – 65-85, 43.33%
121. UCF – 64-85, 42.95%
122. Nevada – 65-87, 42.76%
123. UL Lafayette – 62-86, 41.89%
124. Georgia Southern – 61-86, 41.50%
125. UMass – 58-88, 39.73%
126. Akron – 58-90, 39.19%
127. UTEP – 56-91, 38.10%
128. Marshall – 54-89, 37.76%

(h/t PhilSteele.com)

  1. @dbrunstheworld
    March 13, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    I see BYU at #17.I cringed in 2014 when the Cougars were undefeated and sportscasters would seemingly start all references with “BYU, who cannot get into a New Year’s Day game even if undefeated due to strength of schedule…”

    • Josh
      March 13, 2015 at 3:53 pm

      Well if they go unbeaten this season yeah they deserve to be there. They won’t survive that slate, though.

    • JC16
      March 13, 2015 at 4:14 pm

      I don’t know about undefeated but I can see them being a 9-3 or 8-4 team at the end of the regular season but I can also see them as a 4-8 or 5-7 team.

    • Dave Boss
      March 15, 2015 at 12:20 pm

      BYU has been 8-5 each of the last two seasons. When were they ever undefeated near the end of the season? They’re definitely a stronger team this year, but why would they ever be considered for a New Years Day game with a record like that?

    • @dbrunstheworld
      March 15, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      It was after the Texas win early in 2014. BYU moved to 4-0 (2-0 vs. P5) before Taysom Hill’s injury. Sportscasters needed to pre-emptively point out what they thought was absurd.

      But really, 12-0 (3-0, 4-0 or 5-0 vs P5, mostly on road) can never be considered in any year with 11-1 (8-1 vs. P5) or in some years 10-2 (7-2 vs. P5) for that last playoff spot? That is absurd.

    • justaguy
      March 22, 2015 at 10:48 pm

      relook at the schedule – it’s not that great. Michican stinks. Uconn and Cincinnati are not good at all. ECU is okay – but nothing special. They play something called Wagner……. which is technically a DI school – although they are tiny, and not a legit DI school. Boise State will be down, as will SJ State and Utah State. Nebraska is okay……but in a new regime ad not what they historically were at all. Fresno is overrated, and UCLA is really good – but with a new QB. The teams they played may have won a lot, but that does not mean they are good………

    • Rick Wageman
      April 17, 2015 at 11:26 pm

      It would make more sense to use the 2015 top 127 pre-season power rankings for each opponent that a team plays to determine what their actual strength of schedule will be for the 2015 season.
      Non 1A teams are weak teams and are not listed in the top 127 power rankings so the only fair thing to do would be to award every 1A team an opponent power ranking of 128 for each non 1A opponent that they play.
      Doing it that way would give the same credit to everyone that plays a weak non 1A opponent and at the same time it would serve as a penalty to discourage the top teams from scheduling non 1A teams for a guaranteed win to pad their schedule.

    • Patrick Ryan
      April 18, 2015 at 4:24 am

      Believe it or not old timer you are so far from correct it’s not even funny. You aren’t any different than the others that are only concerned about a label. You couldn’t tell the difference btw two equally matched teams in different divisions from ur d*ck. Sorry but there are quite a few 1AA/FCS teams (whatever you want to call them) that are better than teams ranked in the top 65 of the FBS. People need to get over the label and actually sit down and watch the level of play. But even on TV and Tevo it’s still too fast for some people. Haha Especially when you watch my tigers lead by Deshaun. We Too Deep.

    • Utah Wally
      May 21, 2015 at 5:55 pm

      That #17 is smoke and mirrors. It is based solely on the opponents’ winning record from the prior year. For example, each win by Wagner in 2014 carries the same weight as each UCLA win or Missouri win or Alabama win. It just isn’t any realistic gauge of strength of schedule.

    • Go Blue
      September 27, 2015 at 8:52 am

      After getting !@#$#@ by Michigan I think they’ll be in the top 10

  2. Greg Barnes
    March 13, 2015 at 4:48 pm

    Wow, really? What a stupid system! I guess the scheduling trick is to schedule rebuilding teams.

    • Dave Boss
      March 15, 2015 at 12:28 pm

      The scheduling trick – and a lot of SEC teams do this – is to schedule teams from weak conferences coming off above average records. Look at Georgia’s SOS (10) and then look at their complete joke of an OOC schedule – Georgia Southern, ULM, Southern University…

      They’ll be 4-0 and ranked in the top 10 when they play Alabama, which will also undoubtedly be a top 10 team. That way when Alabama wins it, sportscasters will use it as “proof” that the Crimson Tide is the top team. Or, if Georgia wins, they’re 5-0 with a win over a top 10 team, solidifying their number 1 ranking. The SEC has truly mastered the art of scheduling and PR to encourage circular logic among sportswriters.

  3. Bob Gibson
    March 14, 2015 at 12:59 am

    Hilarious, on so many different levels. Their is so much turnover in the college game that a team that went 10-2 could easily go 4-8. What teams did last year roughly has no baring on this upcoming season.

  4. schoup
    March 14, 2015 at 10:55 am

    The NCAA SOS is and always has been a joke. Under their system GA(SEC) helps your SOS the same as playing LA Lafayette(Sun Belt) as both won 9 games last year.

  5. VegasKnights
    March 14, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    Will Marsha make the access bowl if they go undefeated?

  6. cfbtrivia
    March 14, 2015 at 7:31 pm

    This is not the NCAA method of SOS, regardless of what Phil Steele says and before you dispute me, remember the conversation we had last year.

    • Robert
      March 16, 2015 at 12:00 am

      It even admits in the fine print below, they say we lie in the title and article and just want to publish our own useless list to inflate SOS for some weaker teams lol

  7. Robert
    March 15, 2015 at 11:58 pm

    Dumbest story ever. NCAA ignores FCS schedules b/c it inflates SOS. So this article claims it uses the NCAA method, but then in fine print says it includes FCS W/L… the result of course is the inflation of the SEC who loves to schedule FCS cupcakes. LMAO at this article.. your list sucks!

  8. joe
    March 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    anyone reading this and griping about sec playing powder puff games and then getting a high ranking in this poll is RETARDED!!!!!!! Can you not read that fcs teams, bowl games, and transitional fbs teams are not figured into this???????

    The sec is and will be dominate. I am an arkansas fan and i am glad to see that we have the second highest strength of schedule. Having said that there are some cream puff games. Every School in the power five conference has them in their schedule. So stop crying.

    • cfbtrivia
      March 17, 2015 at 3:50 pm

      Joe, bowls are included in these number as are FCS teams. You are probably confused about the data because Mr. Kelly is confused himself and only added that line after he continued to insist this was the NCAA’s method and I had to post hard data that showed it was not. The numbers posted to not reflect the NCAA SOS method, among other things, the NCAA method does not include FCS teams, but it does include bowls. The numbers given here include FCS opponents and the numbers include bowls.

    • koreivs
      March 17, 2015 at 9:48 pm

      Haha! The two years before last the toughest non-conference team Arkansas played was Rutgers – a Big East/AAC also -ran and they lost to them two years in a row, home and away. You go away! The SEC is afraid to play P5 decent teams outside the conference and especially on the road because that would screw up their money-grubbing, home bowl game strategy. Just like they avoid playing an ninth SEC game because seven teams would suffer one more loss risking bowl eligibility. Now if everyone in the SEC West could schedule Vanderbilt as a non-conference game, they’d all buy into that. Stop kidding yourself. The SEC knows how to play the system.

    • Patrick Ryan
      March 18, 2015 at 3:55 pm

      That’s Definitely not entirely true for the entire SEC. Also please remember that the SEC and ACC have 14 team conferences while the PAC12 and BIG12 don’t. Which in my opinion only leaves more lower teams in the conference. How good would the PAC12 look if they had to add two more teams? Who would they add? How good would the BIG12 look if they had to add 4 more teams? The SEC plays plenty of quality P5s every year, I do agree and would like to see them play a few more which they are in the process of doing. They have played GT, Clemson, FSU now Louisville. All very legit P5s. Clemson more years than not plays two quality SEC teams. That to me doesn’t sound entirely like they shy away from good P5s. They do play a few too many FCS schools. Which personally I have not problem with. But am excited to see more SEC and Pac12, etc. play more games. Would love to see Some top teams of the ACC and Pac12 play. Also would love to see much better bowl games which in my opinion would settle a lot of debates on whose confernce is better. When these inter confernce games are scheduled in th regular season some years the teams don’t match up well and what we thought would be a good game isn’t and is lopsided. Does anyone realize that the Sec and Pac12 haven’t played in a bowl against each other in many many years. Other than when Auburn beat Oregon in the national title. Weak! Better bowls is more important in my mind. Anyone buy NRG or SCTY? Missing out buy low and sell high. Not too late.

    • day
      March 18, 2015 at 7:20 am

      If you look in the future, there are plenty of SEC vs OOC home n home & neutral site with P5 games to be played & more are being set up. Using the “afraid” method is old, every team & conference wants money, not just the SEC. Conferences try to do what is best for themselves & the teams, however way you want to see it.

  9. Patrick Ryan
    March 17, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    Why are so many people complaining? Numbers is all most of you look at anyways. Funny how you flip it when it’s against you. Haha. What a waste of time and energy putting this joke of a SOS together. But with so many extremely different views on SOS not everyone will be satisfied. I personally could give a sh*t, just wanted some time away from the market but nothing other than this to comment on. For those that want to make some money buy solar and semiconductor stocks. Buy SCTY and NRG immediately for some large quick gains.

  10. Tully
    March 20, 2015 at 5:13 pm

    So Big 12 scheduling…where they all play with each other.
    Forty percent of the Big 12 is ranked from 88-93

    88. Baylor – 75-76, 49.67%
    88. Tulsa – 75-76, 49.67%
    88. Oklahoma – 75-76, 49.67%
    91. Kansas State – 75-77, 49.34%
    92. Kent State – 74-77, 49.01%
    93. TCU – 74-78, 48.68%

    How weak are these schedules….Only three teams from all other P5 conferences are listed as easier. Wisconsin, at #95, Iowa at #100 and Duke at #102.

    This would mean both OOC scheduling is weak and in conference is very weak.

    TCU Baylor Oklahoma and KSU would be the top four Big 12 teams going into 2015.

  11. PriddyBoy
    April 27, 2015 at 8:20 pm

    Did Marshall move up to 1A in football?

  12. Max
    July 28, 2015 at 10:35 am

    Why should a team like Florida (6 top 25 opponents on ESPN’s Preseason FPI) be ranked so far below a team like Washington (4 top 25 opponents on ESPN’s Preseason FPI)? In my opinion, any SEC team should have a top 25 rank in strength of schedule.

  13. Don Gray
    August 31, 2015 at 5:40 pm

    No wonder Ohio State is picked preseason national champs. Vanderbilt, Purdue or western Michigan would be powerhouses too if they played Ohio State’s schedule.looks like if they can’t buy a natty they will schedule one!

  14. aj
    September 11, 2015 at 1:06 am

    All I can say is Arkansas plays eight top 25 teams while ohio state has a joke of a schedule if they lose one game that could cost them a playoff spot especially if it’s to the only ranked team they play in Michigan state

  15. Wayne McMichael
    September 11, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    Ohio Suck University #42 and TCU is posted in the ladies room:)

  16. Wayne McMichael
    September 28, 2015 at 7:32 pm

    Purdue? Seriously?:)

  17. Wes Minster
    November 22, 2015 at 1:07 am

    The fact that FCS team records are not included makes sos a joke…Bama playing Charleston Southern should count against them.

  18. DMW
    November 25, 2015 at 10:17 am

    However they came up with these SOS is a load of crap. For example, Oklahoma State is 68th. They play in the Big 12 where every team plays each other, and the only difference between them and say OU is out of conference schedule, where OSU plays Central Michigan, Central Arkansas and UT San Antonio. OU plays Akron, Tulsa, and Tennessee.Try to explain that.

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