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The Fleming System: Discussing “Strength of Schedule” and Week 10 Rankings

One of the strengths of a computer rating system is the uniform application of criteria in the ranking of teams.  However, that can also be one of the weaknesses.  One potentially deceptive aspect of computer rankings manifests itself in the calculation of the strength of schedule.  What exactly does “strength of schedule” mean?

In the case of the Fleming System, strength of schedule is calculated simply as the average rating of the opponents has played to date.  As such, the calculated strength of schedule does not reflect games yet to be played.  This is important to keep in mind as we approach the latter stages of the season, as some games may greatly affect a number of teams’ strength of schedule.

One noteworthy circumstance will affect a number teams in the SEC on the second-to-last week of the season.  On that date (November 23rd) three SEC programs will play teams from the football championship subdivision (FCS.)  The list of teams that have this late season cross-divisional game include Alabama vs. Chattanooga, Florida vs. Georgia Southern and South Carolina vs. Coastal Carolina.

This represents a significant decrease in the number of teams playing cross-divisional opponents relative to last season.  It also represents an increase in the quality of FCS opponents the SEC will face late in the season.  For instance, it made for a puzzling scheduling choice last season when Alabama played Western Carolina, whose only win was over NCAA Division II Mars Hill.  In their penultimate contest last season, seven SEC teams played FCS opponents.  The result was a lowering of the average conference rating, despite the 7-0 record the SEC posted in those games.  The reason?  Strength of schedule.

In computer rating systems, a team playing a weak opponent adversely affects all of the teams opponents by lowering the strength of schedule.  Conversely, playing a strong opponent helps the strength of schedule, raising the ratings of the opponents’ opponents.  As such, if a conference champion is given low consideration by the computer, they might be advised to examine the schedules and performance of the mid- to- lower performing teams in their conference and ask, “why didn’t they play tougher teams . . and/or do better against them?”

All that said, here are the ratings following games on Saturday, October 26…

The Fleming System

(Rankings for Week 10)

SchoolWinsLossesConferenceRatingSchedule
Florida St70ACC158.611134.182
Alabama80SEC157.334132.146
Oregon80PAC12154.736131.673
Stanford71PAC12154.041137.666
Missouri71SEC153.561136.374
Ohio State80B1G151.868129.743
Clemson71ACC151.488135.613
Baylor70Big12150.407126.979
Arizona St52PAC12148.946138.946
Oklahoma71Big12148.893132.456
South Carolina62SEC148.668137.481
Texas A&M62SEC148.155137.342
Auburn71SEC147.823132.511
Miami FL70ACC147.649126.863
Georgia43SEC146.501143.787
Michigan St71B1G146.489127.489
Brigham Young62Ind-FBS145.879134.504
Virginia Tech62ACC145.703134.953
LSU72SEC145.576132.242
Louisville71AAC144.981124.606
Texas Tech71Big12144.809127.746
Arizona52PAC12144.522133.308
Michigan61B1G144.419129.491
Florida43SEC144.228139.157
Northern Illinois80MAC143.931123.056
Central Florida61AAC143.902127.402
Notre Dame62Ind-FBS143.654133.904
Oklahoma St61Big12143.312125.954
Texas52Big12142.823133.608
Fresno St70MWC142.742123.456
UCLA52PAC12142.441133.013
Washington53PAC12142.409135.659
Oregon St62PAC12142.373131.498
Southern Cal53PAC12142.313136.125
Mississippi53SEC142.241137.678
Wisconsin52B1G141.613127.97
Duke62ACC141.48129.605
Houston61AAC141.002125.359
Georgia Tech53ACC140.334133.396
Iowa53B1G140.201133.451
Ball St81MAC139.015121.96
Minnesota62B1G138.657129.032
Washington St44PAC12138.139136.701
Tennessee44SEC138.105138.355
Utah44PAC12137.393138.205
Toledo53MAC137.362133.049
East Carolina52CUSA137.119126.976
Penn State43B1G136.897133.397
Pittsburgh43ACC136.489133.274
Tulane62CUSA135.779125.404
Louisiana-Lafayette52SunBelt135.43124.787
Buffalo62MAC135.313123.126
Kansas St34Big12135.037136.18
North Texas53CUSA134.706126.956
Vanderbilt44SEC134.404133.404
Boise St53MWC134.374128.186
Rice62CUSA134.036123.536
Maryland53ACC133.968129.405
Northwestern44B1G133.821133.571
Mississippi St43SEC133.804131.804
Boston College34ACC133.794137.722
Nebraska52B1G133.255124.255
Indiana34B1G132.736135.736
Colorado34PAC12132.704136.347
Ohio U.62MAC132.422120.922
TCU35Big12132.255137.88
Navy43Ind-FBS132.173129.245
Rutgers43AAC132.138128.709
Bowling Green53MAC132.078124.265
North Carolina25ACC131.527139.956
Wake Forest44ACC131.292129.605
Arkansas35SEC130.84137.215
San José St43MWC130.711127.782
UNLV53MWC130.413125.975
Utah St44MWC129.77127.02
West Virginia35Big12129.617136.429
Syracuse34ACC129.387131.53
Marshall43CUSA128.639122.782
San Diego St34MWC127.229131.229
SMU34AAC126.564131.135
Middle Tennessee St44CUSA126.423128.611
North Carolina St34ACC126.056130.985
Western Kentucky44SunBelt125.9125.088
Cincinnati52AAC125.853113.995
Troy53SunBelt125.838121.15
Illinois34B1G125.742130.528
South Alabama34SunBelt125.611126.754
Texas St-San Marcos53SunBelt125.513121.2
Colorado St44MWC124.14123.578
Kansas25Big12124.118134.332
Virginia26ACC123.912135.349
Louisiana-Monroe44SunBelt123.507125.757
Iowa St16Big12123.179137.536
Central Michigan35MAC123.116129.616
Florida Atlantic26CUSA122.905132.092
Nevada35MWC122.804127.804
Arkansas St34SunBelt122.561127.632
Texas-San Antonio35CUSA122.007127.695
Memphis15AAC121.405133.655
California17PAC12121.085139.023
Kentucky16SEC121.006136.435
South Florida25AAC119.971133.042
Wyoming44MWC119.192117.817
Akron27MAC119.071132.016
Army35Ind-FBS118.918124.981
Tulsa25CUSA118.866128.794
Kent St27MAC118.588131.31
Purdue16B1G115.547134.19
Alabama-Birmingham25CUSA115.079124.079
Temple17AAC114.947130.697
Louisiana Tech35CUSA114.851119.663
Idaho17Ind-FBS113.682132.307
Eastern Michigan17MAC112.876130.314
Hawai`i07MWC112.785133.642
Connecticut07AAC112.304133.59
Western Michigan18MAC111.616130.505
New Mexico25MWC111.515121.3
Air Force17MWC109.675126.238
Massachusetts17MAC109.166128.041
Florida Int'l16CUSA108.49127.776
New Mexico St17Ind-FBS107.776125.838
Georgia St08SunBelt106.979129.229
Southern Miss07CUSA106.971129.185
UTEP16CUSA103.456119.027
Miami OH08MAC100.127123.127
Patrick Fleming is a college chemistry professor at the Claremont Colleges in Southern California. He has degrees from Notre Dame and Ohio State and has done research at Tulane and Arizona State. He has been running The Fleming System since 1994. View his full catalog of rankings, including some for other collegiate sports, by clicking here.

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