Menu Bar

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Strength of Schedule: Oregon vs. Boise State

The college football establishment has spoken. Oregon's big win against PAC-10 rival Stanford catapulted them past Boise State in the AP and USA Today polls and positioned them to take over the top spot when Ohio State lost two weeks later. The voters and commentators were easily convinced, just waiting for an excuse to push the Broncos out of the national title hunt. But are the Ducks better than the Broncos? Let's analyze it...

The main argument in favor of Oregon's leapfrog over Boise State is strength of schedule. Clearly Oregon has played a tougher schedule, right? Not so fast. Before beating Stanford, Oregon played its first four games against New Mexico (0-6), Tennesse (2-4), Portland State (2-4), and Arizona State (3-3). When you factor in their wins against Stanford (5-1) and Washington State (1-5), Oregon's opponents are a whopping 13-23. Excluding Stanford, Oregon's opponents are 8-22. But here's the real shocker: those 8 wins came against the likes of Montana State, Tennesee Martin, Alabama Birmingham, UC Davis, Idaho State, Portland State, Northern Arizona, and Washington.

Other than Virginia Tech, Boise State's wins aren't mind-blowingly impressive, but they are measurably better than Oregon's. After beating Virginia Tech in the season opener, Boise went on to beat Wyoming (2-5), Oregon State (3-3), New Mexico State (1-5), Toledo (4-3), and San Jose State (1-6). That's a combined record of 11-21, only slightly better than Oregon's non-Stanford opponent's record (8-22). But those 11 wins were aginst tougher competition than oregon's opponents faced; the wins came against Ohio, Purdue, Western Michigan, Southern Utah, Toledo, Louiville, Arizona State, #18 Arizona, and New Mexico.

The Bronco's marquee win came in week 1 against Virginia Tech, then ranked #10 in the AP poll and #6 in the USA Today poll. The game was touted as the "biggest regular season game in school history," but the luster wore off when the Hokies lost in week 2 to lowly Jame Madison University. But Va Tech has since made a comeback, winning their next 5 games including a win against natioanlly ranked NC State.

Let's sum up:

Oregon's unranked schedule:
New Mexico (0-6)
Tennesse (2-4)
Portland State (2-4)
Arizona State (3-3)
Washington State (1-5)
BSU's unranked schedule:
Wyoming (2-5)
Oregon State (3-3)
New Mexico State (1-5)
Toledo (4-3)
San Jose State (1-6)
Wins by Oregon's unranked opp's:
Montana State
Tennesee Martin
Alabama Birmingham
UC Davis
Idaho State
Portland State
Northern Arizona
Wins by BSU's unranked opp's:
Western Michigan
Southern Utah
Arizona State
#18 Arizona
New Mexico

So, is Boise State's unranked schedule head and shoulders better thatn Oregon's? Absolutely not. But at worst it's just as good. It seems to me that voters are voting more on Oregon's upcoming schedule than the one they've already played. There's no doubt that Oregon faces a tougher task than Boise State from here on out, but Oregon shouldn't jump Boise State in the polls until they earn it.


  1. It's a really close call, but I think Oregon is overrated. I also think Boise State is overrated, but Boise State is more consistent than Oregon. It pains me to say this because I'm a huge Oregon fan, but I would choose Boise State over Oregon to win.

  2. I hate to admit it, but for the record, I'm convinced that Oregon is the best team in the country.

  3. I am not one to root for the Ducks. But, after watching how many points they score and how easily they score, it's hard to imagine anyone will beat them this year.