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College Football: Comparing SEC and Pac-12 Schedules

Elijah HydesContributor IIIOctober 12, 2016

College Football: Comparing SEC and Pac-12 Schedules

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Sports fans everywhere are obsessed with comparing conferences.  What is the best conference?  Which conference has the best quarterbacks?  Which one has the best defense?  Which conference has the best passing efficiency defense?  And which conference boasts the best punting defense?

    A question that many have argued throughout the years is this: Which conference boasts the most difficult schedules?  It seems that if your conference can't be the best, they better damn well play the best.  Conference loyalists are always looking for things other than wins for which to applaud their teams.

    Pac-10 (soon Pac-12) fans are a particularly raucous bunch who always decry other conferences for playing soft schedules.  True, the Pac-10 used to play a complete, nine game schedule, which always led to less bowl eligible teams than their eight conference game playing rival conferences.  They also play more road games than other major conferences.

    This year, the Pac-10 will welcome Colorado and Utah, which means the conference will have the same number of teams as the vaunted SEC and Big Ten conferences (who themselves absconded with Nebraska).  Heck, let's throw the ACC in there too for good measure.  Comparing conferences has never been easier.

    This article will focus on two of the best—if not the two best football conferences: The Pac-12 and the SEC.  And since they both now have 12 teams, I'll start at the bottom and work my way to the top, in terms of strength of schedule.  Of course this is my opinion and in some cases I'll be splitting hairs.

    Without further ado, let's get to it.  The biggest disgraces in each conference in terms of the mighty SOS.

The Bottom Feeders: Utah and South Carolina

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    I'll begin this slide show at the bottom of the list.  The bottom of the list in this case involves two teams that play absolute disgraces of a schedule that any decent team of which any major conference team would be ashamed.  These two teams are Utah and South Carolina.  Let's break it down.

    Utah

    Out of Conference (OOC) Schedule:

    • Montana State
    • @ BYU
    • @ Pittsburgh

     

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ USC
    • Washington
    • Arizona State
    • @ California
    • Oregon State
    • @ Arizona
    • UCLA
    • @ Washington State
    • Colorado

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Stanford
    • Oregon

     

    South Carolina

    OOC Schedule:

    • East Carolina
    • Navy
    • The Citadel
    • Clemson

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Georgia
    • Vanderbilt
    • Auburn
    • Kentucky
    • @ Mississippi State
    • @ Tennessee
    • @ Arkansas
    • Florida

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Alabama
    • LSU
    • Ole Miss

    Breakdown:

    Right away, it stands out that South Carolina plays eight home games and four away games while Utah plays the traditional Pac-10 schedule of six at home and six away.  Utah also plays nine conference games, while South Carolina plays only eight.  It will be seen on every slide that the SEC team plays an extra OOC game and generally plays fewer games on the road as its Pac-10 rival.  The advantage in terms of strength of schedule (SOS) starts with the Pac-10/12 for this reason. 

    SEC fans regularly state that the SEC is the best conference in football, so a weak OOC schedule means nothing when compared to the brutal conference schedule any given SEC team plays.  True, the SEC is the strongest conference in the nation, so any advantage the Pac-10/12 has in playing less OOC games and more road games can be quickly annulled depending on who and where and SEC team plays their conference rivals.

    Many of you must be reading this and thinking, "Hey! The Gamecocks' game against East Carolina is not a home game. It's at a neutral position."  That is true, but the game will be played closer to the Gamecocks home turf than the Pirates.  I'll compromise, though.  Let's say they play seven and a half home games and four and a half road games.

    South Carolina is on the bottom of the list for two reasons.  First, their OOC schedule is less than impressive.  Their hardest game is at home against a Clemson team that was second to last in the dreaded ACC atlantic division.  Navy may very well be a better team, but again.  They're mediocre to bad teams that may reach a bowl game by the skin of their teeth.  Their hardest game is on the road against Arkansas.

    The second reason South Carolina is at the bottom is that their conference schedule is pathetic.  They don't play Alabama or LSU—the two top teams of the SEC.

    Utah is on the bottom of this list for their conference schedule.  Their OOC schedule is respectable.  BYU and Pittsburgh are quality opponents.  You can't avoid playing Oregon and Stanford in the same year, though, and not be on the bottom of this list.  Their hardest game is on the road against USC.

    And the Winner (less of a loser) Is:

    Utah.  Both conference schedules here are embarrassing.  Reverting to OOC conference schedules, at least Utah plays one of their games on the road against a quality opponent who also happens to be their arch rival.  They also play six games on the road.  Utah wins, hence the picture.

Next to the Bottom Is Nothing to Brag About: Kentucky and Washington State

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Kentucky

    OOC Schedule:

    • vs Western Kentucky
    • Central Michigan
    • Loisville
    • Jacksonville St

    Conference Schedule

    • Florida
    • @ LSU
    • @ South Carolina
    • Mississippi State
    • Ole Miss
    • @ Vanderbilt
    • @ Georgia
    • Tennessee

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Alabama
    • Auburn
    • Arkansas

     

    Utah

    OOC Schedule:

    • Idaho State
    • UNLV
    • @ San Diego State

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Colorado
    • @ UCLA
    • Stanford
    • Oregon State
    • @ Oregon
    • @ California
    • Arizona State
    • Utah
    • @ Washington

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • USC
    • Arizona

    Breakdown:

    Kentucky finds its place near the bottom of this list because it has a pathetic OOC schedule, avoids playing three of the top teams in the SEC and because they play seven and a half teams at home and four and a half on the road.  Their only OOC game of substance is against a mediocre Louisville team out of the Big East, and their hardest game period is against LSU.

    Washington State's conference schedule is respectable.  They play Oregon at Autzen stadium, which is one of the loudest, most feared places to play in the whole country.  That's their only very difficult conference road game (although Cal might also qualify), but they play Stanford as well.  They avoid playing Arizona and USC, two very good conference opponents.

    WSU is near the bottom of the list for their OOC schedule.  The Pac-10/12 prides itself in its difficult OOC schedules.  WSU's OOC schedule features one mediocre to good team and two bad teams. At least they play the good team (San Diego State) on the road, which is more than Kentucky can say.

    And the Winer Is:

    Washington State.  Kentucky has a weak OOC and conference schedule.  WSU only has the former.  The cougars have more to brag about than the wildcats.


Entering the Realm of Respectibility: Stanford and Georgia

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

    Stanford

    OOC Schedule:

    • San Jose State
    • @ Duke
    • Notre Dame

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Arizona
    • UCLA
    • Colorado
    • @ Washington State
    • Washington
    • @ USC
    • @ Oregon State
    • Oregon
    • California

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Utah
    • Arizona State

     

     

    Georgia

    OOC Schedule:

    • Boise State
    • Coastal Carolina
    • New Mexico State
    • @ Georgia Tech

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Ole Miss
    • Mississippi State
    • @ Tennessee
    • @ Vanderbilt
    • @ Florida
    • Auburn
    • Kentucky

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Alabama
    • LSU
    • Arkansas

    Breakdown:

    Neither of these teams' schedules is a complete embarrassment.  They both have quality OOC opponents.  Stanford has Notre Dame who keeps getting better and better, and Georgia has a home game against Boise State and a road game at Georgia Tech.  Georgia Tech should be commended for scheduling a game against Boise State.  Even though it's a home game, Kellen Moore and the Broncos are an opponent not to be taken lightly (ask a Hokie, Sooner or Duck). 

    That's where the praise for Georgia ends.  You can't avoid playing the three of the best teams in the conference—Alabama, LSU and Arkansas—and not expect to be put towards the bottom of the list.  Stanford, in contrast, has a strong conference schedule, although Utah and Arizona State are quality foes.  Arizona State could win the Pac-12 South next year.  I also have to dock Stanford for playing seven home games.  In the West that is not cool.

    And The Winner Is:

    Stanford.  A mediocre OOC schedule and a good conference schedule trumps a very good OOC schedule and a pathetic conference schedule.

Out of the Bottom 25th Percentile: Tennessee and UCLA

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    Harry How/Getty Images

    Tennessee

    OOC Schedule:

    • Montana
    • Cincinnati
    • Buffalo
    • Middle Tennessee

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Flordia
    • Georgia
    • LSU
    • @ Alabama
    • South Carolina
    • @ Arkansas
    • Vanderbilt
    • @ Kentucky

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Auburn
    • Mississippi State
    • Ole Miss
    • UCLA

    OOC Schedule:

    • @ Houston
    • San Jose State
    • Texas

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Oregon State
    • @ Stanford
    • Washington State
    • @ Arizona
    • California
    • Arizona State
    • @ Utah
    • Colorado
    • @ USC

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Oregon
    • Washington

    Breakdown:

    UCLA has a quality OOC schedule.  Don't overlook Houston.  Case Keenum will be back next year for a sixth year, and the cougars will be looking for revenge as it was UCLA who beat them last year and knocked Keenum out for the year.  Then there's another team you may have heard of called Texas.  Unfortunately for UCLA, Texas will also be looking for revenge as it was UCLA who first beat them last year.  UCLA's OOC Schedule is strong.

    Tennessee's OOC schedule is a pathetic joke.  I can't be harsh enough on this point.  Their most "challenging" game is against one of the worst Big East teams: Cincinnati.

    UCLA's conference schedule is okay.  They don't play Oregon, yet they play USC and Stanford on the road.  Tennessee's conference schedule is very strong.  They play a brutal schedule including road games against Arkansas and and Alabama.  The only knock I can find on their conference schedule is that they won't play Auburn.

    And the Winner Is:

    UCLA.  I actually had Tennessee on this one until I saw they played seven home games, whereas UCLA plays six.  This is splitting hairs.  Is Alabama and LSU better than Stanford and Texas?  I don't know, but my gut tells me UCLA.  Is a strong OOC schedule and mediocre to good conference schedule better than a great conference schedule and a pathetic joke of a OOC schedule?  I think so.

Getting Better by Baby Steps: Arizona and Vanderbilt

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    Steve Dykes/Getty Images

    Arizona

    OOC Schedule:

    • Northern Arizona
    • @ Oklahoma State
    • Louisiana-Lafayette

    Conference Schedule:

    • Stanford
    • Oregon
    • @ USC
    • @ Oregon State
    • UCLA
    • @ Washington
    • Utah
    • @ Colorado
    • @ Arizona State

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Washington State
    • California

    Vanderbilt

    OOC Schedule:

    • Elon
    • Connecticut
    • Army
    • @ Wake Forest

    Conference Schedule:

    • Ole Miss
    • @ South Carolina
    • @ Alabama
    • Georgia
    • Arkansas
    • @ Florida
    • Kentucky
    • @ Tennessee

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • LSU
    • Auburn
    • Mississippi St

    Breakdown:

    It was very difficult deciding whether Arizona or UCLA had the more respectable schedule; likewise with Vanderbilt and Tennessee.  In the end I decided a game against Oregon was more impressive than a game against Texas, and playing three teams people have heard of (Connecticut, Army, Wake Forest) was more impressive than playing LSU. 

    Arizona's OOC schedule is mediocre.  One great game and two dismal ones.  Vanderbilt's OOC schedule is about the same—three mediocre teams and Elon who?  In terms of conference schedule I call it a coin toss.  What's worse, playing at Alabama and Florida or playing Oregon and Stanford at home before going to USC and Arizona State? 

    And the Winner is:

    Arizona.  If conference schedules strengths are equal, I must defer to OOC schedule and I see a road game against Oklahoma State as more impressive than anything on Vanderbilt's OOC schedule.

Respectibility Starts Now: Mississippi State and California.

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    Rick Dole/Getty Images

    Mississippi State

    OOC Schedule:

    • @ Memphis
    • Louisiana Tech
    • @ UAB
    • UT Martin

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Auburn
    • LSU
    • @ Georgia
    • South Carolina
    • @ Kentucky
    • Alabama
    • @ Arkansas

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Florida
    • Tennessee
    • Vanderbilt

    California

    OOC Schedule

    • Fresno State
    • @ Colorado (yes, it's nonconference)
    • Presbyterian

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Washington
    • @ Oregon
    • USC
    • Utah
    • @ UCLA
    • Washington State
    • Oregon State
    • @ Stanford
    • @ Arizona State

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Colorado (sort of)
    • Arizona

    Breakdown:

    Both teams have weak OOC schedules. California has the edge here, as they play two teams with a pulse, however slight: Colorado and Fresno State.  The closest thing to a real opponent Mississippi state plays is Louisiana Tech, who is worse than Fresno State.  Memphis may be seem borderline respectable, but they're the worst team in the unimpressive Conference USA.  California wins on the OOC front, as Pac-10/12 teams seem to regularly be doing.  

    Both teams have strong conference schedules.  California was unfortunate in drawing the short stick and getting Stanford, Oregon and Stanford all on the road.  It could be a rough year for the Golden Bears.

    Mississippi State plays all of the difficult conference teams minus Florida.  Their road schedule is manageable, however.  They face Auburn, Arkansas and Georgia on the road. 

    And the Winner is:

    Mississippi State.  After the Pac-10/12 team winning the first five comparisons, many must suspect I'm biased.  I am trying to be impartial, however.  I would call this one a tie, but since Mississippi State is the lone SEC team to play six home and six away games, they deserve credit.  SEC score one.

The Better Half of the Conference: Arizona State and Florida

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    Arizona State

    OOC Schedule:

    • UC Davis
    • Missouri
    • @ Illilinois

    Conference Schedule:

    • USC
    • Oregon State
    • @ Utah
    • @ Oregon
    • Colorado
    • @ UCLA
    • @ Washington State
    • Arizona
    • California

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Stanford
    • Washington

    Florida

    OOC Schedule:

    • Florida Atlantic
    • UAB
    • Furman
    • Florida State

    Conference Schedule:

    • Tennessee
    • @ Kentucky
    • Alabama
    • @ LSU
    • @ Auburn
    • Georgia
    • Vanderbilt
    • @ South Carolina

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Arkansas
    • Ole Miss
    • Mississippi State

    Breakdown:

    Shame on Florida.  I'll say it.  Eight home games?  Give me a break.  I'm not even going to count the Georgia game as a half-home game.  That being said, they do play one respectable OOC game (more than a lot of the SEC can say at this point) against Florida State, and their conference schedule is fairly brutal—they play all of the elite SEC teams minus Arkansas.

    Arizona State plays a very strong OOC schedule.  Missouri is better than Florida State in my opinion, but that's open to debate.  A road game against Illinois is hardly a gimme, either.  Their conference schedule is difficult, but manageable, minus that road game at Oregon.

    And the Winner Is:

    Florida.  As much as I cringe giving the advantage to a team that plays eight home games, I also have to dock Arizona State for playing seven.  Bigger than all of that, though, is the fact that Arizona State doesn't play Stanford.  At this point in the conference comparison, you can't avoid one of the top two teams of the conference and still come out on top.

Getting Brutal: Alabama and Washington

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    Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images

    Alabama

    OOC Schedule:

    • Kent State
    • @ Penn State
    • North Texas
    • Georgia Southern

    Conference Schedule:

    • Arkansas
    • @ Florida
    • Vanderbilt
    • @ Ole Miss
    • Tennessee
    • LSU
    • @ Mississippi State
    • @ Auburn

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Georgia
    • Kentucky
    • South Carolina

     

    Washington

    OOC Schedule:

    • Eastern Washington
    • Hawaii
    • @ Nebraska

    Conference Schedule:

    • California
    • @ Utah
    • Colorado
    • @ Stanford
    • Arizona
    • Oregon
    • @ USC
    • @ Oregon State
    • Washington State

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Arizona State
    • UCLA

    Breakdown:

    Washington has the tougher OOC schedule.  Alabama plays three cream puffs and Penn State.  Penn State isn't the intimidating Big Ten powerhouse of old, but it's still a solid non-conference game.  Washington plays a road game against Nebraska which could prove brutal, as well as a game against Hawaii.  Lucky for Washington this game is not in Hawaii which makes it much, MUCH easier.  Normally I wouldn't say much about an FCS opponent, but Eastern Washington is the FCS national champions, so they aren't your typical punching bag like UT Martin or Elon or Furman or etc.

    Conference schedule wise, I give the edge to Alabama.  Each team plays four very difficult conference games.  Which is harder, at Utah, at USC, at Stanford, Oregon, or at Florida, Arkansas, LSU and an Iron Bowl on the road?  Sounds comparable to me, but Utah's the weak team on the list, so I give the edge to Alabama.

    And the Winner Is:

    Washington.  Any slight advantage Alabama has in their conference schedule is eclipsed by a solid road game against an elite Big Ten opponent. 

The Aggresive: USC and Auburn

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    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    USC

    OOC Schedule:

    • Minnesota
    • Syracuse
    • @ Notre Dame

    Conference Schedule:

    • Utah
    • @ Arizona State
    • Arizona
    • @ California
    • Stanford
    • @ Colorado
    • Washington
    • @ Oregon
    • UCLA

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Washington State
    • Oregon State

    Auburn

    OOC Schedule:

    • Utah State
    • @ Clemson
    • Florida Atlantic
    • Samford

    Conference Schedule:

    • Mississippi State
    • @ South Carolina
    • @ Arkansas
    • Florida
    • @ LSU
    • Ole Miss
    • @ Georgia
    • Alabama

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Vanderbilt
    • Tennessee
    • Kentucky

    Breakdown:

    USC clearly has the stronger OOC schedule.  There's a pattern here.  The Pac-10/12 team always seems to have the harder OOC schedule.  Notre Dame and Syracuse are better than Clemson and Utah State.  Let's not discuss the others.

    Considering these two teams' conference schedules, Auburn has the edge.  I respect Auburn's road games at LSU and Arkansas as much as USC's road games at Oregon and Arizona State.  Alabama and Stanford are comparable, although I'd give the slight edge to Alabama.  After that, Auburn's schedule takes the more difficult route.  The three conference teams that Auburn doesn't play are among the worst teams in the SEC, and while USC can say something similar about Washington State, Oregon State is a solid team.

    And the Winner Is:

    Auburn.  No USC.  Ok Auburn.  Who knows?  I want to dock Auburn for their out of conference schedule and I want to dock USC for playing seven home games.  In the end, I'll say Auburn, as their opponents together beat 81 teams last year, while USC's opponents beat 78 (adding nine games to the Pac-10 as they are guaranteed nine more losses due to one more conference game apiece).  Scientifically sound? No.  At least I have my answer though.

The Bellicose: Arkansas and Oregon

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Arkansas

    OOC Schedule:

    • Missouri State
    • New Mexico
    • Troy
    • @ Texas A&M

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Alabama
    • Auburn
    • @ Ole Miss
    • @ Vanderbilt
    • South Carolina
    • Tennessee
    • Mississippi State
    • @ LSU

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Florida
    • Georgia
    • Kentucky

    Oregon

    OOC Schedule:

    • @ LSU
    • Nevada
    • Missouri State

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Arizona
    • California
    • Arizona State
    • @ Colorado
    • Washington State
    • @ Washington
    • @ Stanford
    • USC
    • Oregon State

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • UCLA
    • Utah

    Breakdown:

    This comparison is much easier as Arkansas and Oregon play some of the same teams.  Anybody feel sorry for Missouri State?  Oregon and Arkansas have good OOC schedules.  Texas A&M and Troy are no slouches, but Nevada and LSU are clearly better.  Oregon has the harder OOC schedule.

    I would have to say that Arkansas' conference schedule is more difficult than Oregon's, although Oregon's is nothing to belittle.  Their game on the road against Stanford has many Ducks nervous.  Arkansas' road games at LSU and Alabama are a little more intimidating, however.

    And the Winner Is:

    Arkansas.  Take away LSU.  Alabama and Texas A&M on the road are more difficult than Stanford and Arizona on the road (maybe).  After that it's a tie.  This one's close, and if Oregon played Utah, I'd call it for them.  But I give it to Arkansas.

The Masochists: Oregon State and Ole Miss

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    Oregon State

    OOC Schedule:

    • Sacramento State
    • @ Wisconsin
    • BYU

    Conference Schedule:

    • UCLA
    • @ Arizona State
    • Arizona
    • @ Washington State
    • @ Utah
    • Stanford
    • @ California
    • Washington
    • @ Oregon

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Colorado
    • USC

    Ole Miss

    OOC Schedule:

    • BYU
    • Southern Illinois
    • @ Fresno State
    • Louisiana Tech

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Vanderbilt
    • Georgia
    • Alabama
    • Arkansas
    • @ Auburn
    • @ Kentucky
    • LSU
    • @ Mississippi

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Florida
    • South Carolina
    • Tennessee

    Breakdown:

    Once again, the Pac-10/12 team has the harder OOC schedule, and once again, the SEC has the more brutal conference schedule.  Ole Miss's OOC schedule isn't embarrassing.  Oregon State plays a difficult BYU team like Ole Miss, but playing the Badgers at Camp Randall is straight up gutsy.

    Ole Miss plays most of the right teams in the SEC.  The only thing that can be said against their OOC schedule is that they don't play Florida and they have an easy road schedule.  All of their hard games minus Auburn are at Vaught-Hemingway Stadium.

    Oregon State plays the hard Pac-12 teams minus USC.  That's a big minus.  The Civil War is played at Autzen, though, so the Beavers aren't exactly getting off.

    And the Winner Is:

    Oregon State.  Although week in, week out, their schedule may be a shade less brutal than Ole Miss's, the fact that two of their three hardest games are on the road gives them the edge. They also play six and six opposed to Ole Miss's seven and five.

The Suicidal: LSU and Colorado

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    LSU

    OOC Schedule:

    • Oregon
    • Northwestern State
    • @ West Virginia
    • Western Kentucky

    Conference Schedule:

    • @ Mississippi State
    • Kentucky
    • Florida
    • @ Tennessee
    • Auburn
    • @ Alabama
    • @ Ole Miss
    • Arkansas

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • Vanderbilt
    • South Carolina
    • Georgia

     

    Colorado

    OOC Schedule:

    • @ Hawaii
    • California (again, yes, non-conference)
    • Colorado State
    • @ Ohio State

    Conference Schedule:

    • Washington State
    • @ Stanford
    • @ Washington
    • Oregon
    • @ Arizona State
    • USC
    • Arizona
    • @ UCLA
    • @ Utah

    Conference Foes Eschewed:

    • California (sort of)
    • Oregon State

    Breakdown

    The first thing that pops out is that Colorado plays a 13 game season.  They play Colorado State and Washington State.  After that it's all devastating all the time.  Both teams feature very strong OOC schedules.  Even if Ohio State sported their entire team with Tressel at the helm, I would give the advantage to LSU.  An SEC team playing Oregon is as gutsy as it gets.  LSU would have had a respectable schedule without them, having to play West Virginia on the road.  LSU should be commended for scheduling the game (as should Oregon).

    Concerning the conference schedules, both are gauntlets I would never want to face unless I was the Green Bay Packers.  They both play the full strength of their conference's teams (minus South Carolina, maybe).  That being said...

    And the Winner Is:

    LSU.  If they go undefeated, perhaps no team in the history of college football will have gone down a more challenging road.  If Colorado goes undefeated, they might not be able to say the same thing, but they could surely take bragging rights home for the year.

What We Have Learned: Pac-12 vs SEC

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    If you take this article as the authority which I'm sure all of you will, then the Pac-12 wins this competition seven to five.

    Criticism of the Pac-12

    With the conference expanding, more teams seem to be playing only five road games.  Five teams fit that description this year.  I don't see it as a coincidence that the three best teams of the Pac-12 are among them.  It's like they took a page out of the SEC handbook.  If you're a great team in a great conference, you don't have to play as many away games, right?  That's especially true when there's money to be made by filling your stadium to the brim one or two extra times a year even if you're playing the Chatanoogas and Sacramento States of the world, right?  I say wrong.

    Criticisms of the SEC

    This one's easy. Play harder OOC schedules!  Most intellectually honest people will admit that the SEC is the best conference in the land, although it's not as dominant as it has been with the SEC East being weak.  Any argument that conference schedule brutality justifies a weak OOC schedule is quickly annulled when SEC teams are able to dodge two or three elite conference foes due to their playing one less conference game a year, as this article has shown.  Play harder teams, that's all.

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