Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

11 Aug 2009

ESPN INSIDER: Scheduling a Championship

Our college football content on ESPN.com will be expanding in this upcoming season, and first up: a look at strength of schedule. Of this year's elite teams, Texas has the best shot at an undefeated season -- but it isn't a very good shot. Their toughest competition is all bunched together in October, just like it was a year ago.

Posted by: Brian Fremeau on 11 Aug 2009

6 comments, Last at 14 Oct 2009, 4:32pm by watto


by Unregistered Anonymous User (not verified) :: Tue, 08/11/2009 - 6:45pm

I'm missing something. How can OU have a 54% likelihood of winning both games against TX and KS while TX has a 52% likelihood of winning all three games against OU, OK State and Mizzou? That implies that each OU and Texas have a greater than 50% chance of winning the Red River Shootout.

by Brian Fremeau :: Tue, 08/11/2009 - 8:59pm

The SOS numbers don't represent each individual team's likelihood of victory. To consistently represent SOS for every team, a theoretical "Typical Elite" rating is used to calculate SOS. Mathematically, the rating is equal to two standard deviations better than an average team over the last five seasons.

To calculate Mean Wins, we run a different set of win expectations based on the projections of each individual team. The Texas/Oklahoma matchup has a 57% Projected Win Expectation in favor of the Longhorns.

Florida has an SOS rating of 0.196, but is actually projected to be substantially stronger than the "Typical Elite" rating. Their cumulative Projected Win Expectation based on their projected FEI and that of their opponents is 0.378. (If Florida played Texas' opponents, they would have a cumulative PWE of 0.542).

by Unregistered Anonymous User (not verified) :: Tue, 08/11/2009 - 9:49pm

Thanks for that. Does that mean that you are rating both OU and Texas as substantially weaker than "a typical elite top-5 team" if that elite team would get a PWE > 0.5 over a stretch that includes games against each team?

I can't find 2009 FEI rankings online yet ... can I? If not, is there something that puts more context on Florida's projection as stronger than Typical Elite?

/not a stats guy in my day job
//OU grad
///OU is clearly ranked too low because Sam Bradford. The coaches' poll is way better than this. Boomer Sooner FTW.
////The O-line scares the bejeesus out of me (and Bradford's future agent).

by Brian Fremeau :: Tue, 08/11/2009 - 10:13pm

The short answer is yes: the projections for OU, Texas (plus both USC and Virginia Tech, in fact) all somewhat conservatively fall below the benchmark used for the SOS ratings. As for context on Florida's projection, check out Football Outsiders Almanac!

(There is a url included in at the end of the FOA chapter on non-BCS teams that points to a list of projections for all 120 FBS teams).

by Unregistered Anonymous User (not verified) :: Tue, 08/11/2009 - 10:28pm


Also, "each" should be "either" in my last comment - a typically elite top-5 team would have a PWE greater than 0.5 against either team, but not necessarily against them both.

by watto (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 4:32pm

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