A Look At 2010 Pac-10 Football Strength Of Schedule

While UCLA has played the most top-25 ranked opponents of any Pac-10 team to date, Cal has actually faced the toughest schedule as measured by opponent winning percentage. The Bruins and Bears face another strong test on Saturday afternoon in Strawberry Canyon.

There has been some talk of the strength of the schedule that the Bruins have played so far this season. Both LVBruin and KSBruin have written fanposts discussing this over the past few days that are worth taking a look at. The SoS issue is an interesting one, and something that can help to put an early season record into context. With that in mind, I have broken down the schedules-to-date of all of the Pac-10 programs, breaking down the results into several categories concerning who each Pac-10 team has played, but more importantly who those opponents have played, and how well they have fared.

 

Pac-10 Schedule Analysis - Week 5

Record
v. Top-25
 v.  FCS
 FBS opp v. all
FBS opp v. BCS FBS opp v. FBS opp
Oregon
5-0
1-0
1-0
8-12
3-9 4-12
Arizona
4-0
1-0
1-0
9-5
4-3 7-5
Stanford
4-1
0-1
1-0
12-8
8-8 10-8
Southern Cal
4-1
0-0
0-0
9-14
2-10 5-13
UCLA
3-2
2-1
0-0
15-8
6-7
11-8
Cal
2-2
0-1
1-0
12-1
4-1
10-1
Oregon State
2-2
0-2
0-0
13-5
4-5
9-5
Washington
2-2
1-1 0-0 12-6
5-3
9-6
Arizona State
2-3
0-2
2-0
11-3
6-1
9-3
Washington State
1-4
0-1
1-0
14-5
8-4
14-5

 

For reference: FBS = Football Bowl Subdivision (what used to be known as Division 1-A). FCS = Football Championship Subdivision (what used to be known as Division 1-AA).

Analysis and discussion of the categories continue below the jump.

The table includes 6 pieces of information for each Pac-10 team. The first 3 categories apply directly to that team: Overall win-loss record; Win-loss record against top-25 teams (At the time of that game); Win-loss record against FCS-level teams. The latter 3 categories look at the fortunes of the opponents of that (Pac-10) team, excluding the FCS-level teams that the Pac-10 team may have played: FBS opponent v. all (the combined win-loss record of all of that team's FBS-level opponents); FBS opponent v. BCS (the win-loss record of all FBS-level opponents in games played against BCS-conference opponents); and FBS opponent v. FBS opponent (the win-loss record of all FBS-level opponents in games played against other FBS-level teams).

When analyzing this information, the first thing to keep in mind is that the records of opposing teams include their records against the respective Pac-10 teams in the table. Looking at the teams that have played Washington State, for example, taking away the 3-1 record that these opposing (FBS) teams have against the Cougars makes that schedule seem slightly less imposing. Also, while the FBS opponent v. BCS category was conceived to be a (very) rough way to examine the strength of schedule of opponents (and to a degree, how difficult the schedule of the Pac-10 team had been), it does not factor in the small number of very strong non-BCS member programs. Specifically, Oregon State gets screwed by this measure, having played non-BCS top-5 teams Boise State and TCU early in the season. Something to keep in mind.

Now, a few notes on each team and its opposition to date.

Oregon Ducks: Along with USC, the Ducks have played the weakest slate of teams to date of any Pac-10 team.Unlike USC, Oregon dominated the weak non-conference opponents on its schedule. Despite the struggles they faced against an ASU team that is yet to defeat a FBS-level opponent, last Saturday's 52-31 home victory over Stanford showed the talent and ability of the Ducks team that was not adequately tested in September.

Arizona Wildcats: Like a majority of Pac-10 teams this year, Arizona's out of conference slate included a FCS-level opponent (The Citadel). Unlike most Pac-10 teams, the OOC schedule also a game against a top-10 opponent, a Iowa Hawkeyes squad that even after a defeat in Tucson, has maintained a top-15 ranking. The 7-5 record of its FBS opponents against other FBS teams is near the middle of the Pac-10 to date.

Stanford Cardinal: Stanford's FBS opponents as a whole have a solid 12-8 record at this point in the season, giving the 4-1 record accumulating in Palo Alto a reasonable heft. If one takes away the Oregon loss and its effect on the record of the opposition, the resulting 4-0 record may lose a touch of luster, but remains pretty darn strong, with dominating wins against Wake Forest, UCLA and Notre Dame making people forget that the Cardinal opened the season against FCS Sacramento State.

USC Trojans: As noted above, USC matches Oregon in terms of the weak win-loss record of its opponents. Unlike Oregon - or every other Pac-10 team for that matter - the Trojans have yet to test themselves against a top-25 opponent. The season opener at WAC-middleweight Hawaii was the toughest opponent that they faced among the non-conference slate, yet the 13-point victory on the islands was the closest thing that SC has had to a comfortable win to date. Narrow wins against UVa, a team whose 2 wins have come against FCS teams Richmond and the Virginia Military Institute, and a Minnesota team that was coming off of a home loss to FCS South Dakota do little to inspire faith in the 5-13 record of USC opponents against other FBS-level opponents.

UCLA Bruins: Not much to say here that most Bruins Nation readers don't already know. UCLA is 1 of 4 Pac-10 teams that did not schedule an FCS-level opponent, though 3 Bruin opponents did (Kansas State, Houston and Stanford), causing the impressive 15-8 record of UCLA opponents to fall to a still strong 11-8 record against FBS-level opponents.

California Golden Bears: Due to the early bye week, and the scheduling of FCS team UC Davis to open the season, Cal has the fewest opponent games played against FBS opponents. Those opposing teams have made them count, with the 10-1 record of opponents against other FBS teams helping to explain Cal's own 1-2 record against FBS teams. Losses to a pair of undefeated teams - Arizona and Nevada - and a surprisingly 3-1 Colorado squad have given the Golden Bears plenty of spirited competition heading into Saturday's matchup with UCLA in Strawberry Canyon.

Oregon St. Beavers: The Beavers scheduled a monster of a non-conference lineup, with games @ #6 TCU and @ #3 Boise State split up by a visit from Big East member Louisville. While the Louisville game and the conference opener with ASU dings the ultra-strong base of opponent strength that TCU and Boise gave to the Beavers, they feature a strong 13-5 opponent record (falling to 9-5 when considering only FBS opponents).

Washington Huskies: Washington, like UCLA and Oregon State, scheduled a strong non-conference slate without a FCS squad to rest up against. While the Bruins defeated both of its ranked (but likely overrated) opponents, and the Beavers played (but lost) respectably against a pair of national championship contenders, the Huskies fell to surprisingly weak (1-4) BYU in the season opener. After beating Syracuse, Washington was humiliated by #8 Nebraska in Husky Stadium. After beating USC over the weekend, Washington's opponents have a strong 12-6 overall record, and a 9-6 record against other FBS teams. The 8 games that Washington opponents have played against BCS-conference teams will shoot up throughout the season given the 2 BCS-member non-conference opponents, although the diverging fortunes of Nebraska football and Syracuse will likely keep the record near .500.

Arizona St. Sun Devils: ASU is the only Pac-10 team to have scheduled 2 games against FCS opponents in the 2010 season. Despite heroic efforts in narrow losses to Oregon, Oregon State and Wisconsin, those 2 FCS games account for all of the Sun Devil victories so far in the season. The small number of games against high-quality FBS opponents predictably leads to a strong record among ASU opponents (11-3, and 9-3 among only games played against FBS opponents). But with an 0-3 record against FBS opponents itself, does that really do much good for ASU?

Washington St. Cougars: The Cougars' FBS opponents have a 14-5 record, further strengthened by the fact that no WSU opponent has played a FCS team in 2010, the only such team in the Pac-10. The Cougars got mauled in Stillwater to open the season (a 65-17 loss to Oklahoma State), with a win against FCS Montana State the only respite in a string of losses including visits to SMU and UCLA, and a visit by USC. The 8-4 record of opponents against teams from BCS conferences reflects the success of undefeated Oklahoma State, and to a lesser degree that of UCLA and USC.

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