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SEC Football 2011: Ranking Strength of Schedule for Every Team in the SEC

Alex RobertsCorrespondent IApril 26, 2011

SEC Football 2011: Ranking Strength of Schedule for Every Team in the SEC

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    With most teams spring games over, it is time to start really looking ahead to the actual season. 

    Power ranking a schedule is an inexact science, but it has a great deal to do with a team's BCS rankings. Some of the most controversial issues arise when a national champion has an alleged weak schedule. 

    How do the teams in the SEC stack up to one another this year in terms of scheduling?  

    I am going to assign a point to each team on the schedule.  My point system will work as following:

    One point for subdivision opponents or below average mid major teams. 

    Two points for mid-major teams or below average conference teams.

    Three points for average conference teams.

    Four points for highly ranked or above average non-conference teams.

    Is this exact?  No way.  However, it is a much better attempt to compare strengths of schedules.  Let's see how the SEC teams rank in terms of strength of schedule. 

    There are a few ties... however, the tie breaker method is based on home versus away for tough games, and the amount of level 3 (average difficulty) games they have. 

    Having a strong out of conference helps as well... but it goes mostly by my gut. 

12. Kentucky Wildcats

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

     

    Thu. 09/01/11


    Western Kentucky 
     1  
    Sat. 09/10/11



    Central Michigan
     1  
    Sat. 09/17/11


    Louisville
     3  
    Sat. 09/24/11



    Florida
     3  
    Sat. 10/01/11



    at LSU
     4  
    Sat. 10/08/11



    at South Carolina
     4  
    Sat. 10/15/11 Open Date    
    Sat. 10/22/11



    Jacksonville State
     1  
    Sat. 10/29/11



    Mississippi State
     3  
    Sat. 11/05/11


    Ole Miss
     2  
    Sat. 11/12/11



    at Vanderbilt
     2  
    Sat. 11/19/11



    at Georgia
     4  
    Sat. 11/26/11



    Tennessee
     3

    Toughest Games: At Georgia, at South Carolina and at LSU.

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: Louisville

    Cupcakes: Jacksonville State, Central Michigan, Western Kentucky

    Predicted Record: 6-6

     

    Kentucky easily has the lowest rated schedule in the SEC for 2011.  If they don't win at least six games next year (even though they aren't the most talented SEC team), it should be time for a change.  Their three most challenging games happen to be on the road, which is bad for them. 

11. Georgia Bulldogs

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

     

    Sat. 09/03/11
    Boise State   4  
    Sat. 09/10/11

    South Carolina  4  
    Sat. 09/17/11

    Coastal Carolina  1  
    Sat. 09/24/11
    at Ole Miss  2  
    Sat. 10/01/11
    Mississippi State  3  
    Sat. 10/08/11

    at Tennessee  3  
    Sat. 10/15/11
    at Vanderbilt  2  
    Sat. 10/22/11 Open Date ---  
    Sat. 10/29/11

    Florida  3  
    Sat. 11/05/11

    New Mexico State  1  
    Sat. 11/12/11

    Auburn  4  
    Sat. 11/19/11

    Kentucky  2  
    Sat. 11/26/11

    at Georgia Tech  3  

     

    Total Points: 32

    Toughest Games: South Carolina and at Auburn

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: Boise State and at Georgia Tech

    Cupcakes: Coastal Carolina, New Mexico State

    Predicted Record: 9-3

     

    A potentially very good Georgia team mixed with an easy schedule could be the mix for great things for the Georgia Bulldogs. 

    They scheduled two really easy non-conference teams and have Boise State.  Boise State is a bit of a conundrum.  There is no way to tell if they will live up to the lofty expectations derived from the teams of the past, so their worth as am out of conference team is debatable. 

    We will see, but Georgia will be right in the thick of the SEC East race.

10. Alabama Crimson Tide

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

     

    Sat. 09/03/11



    Kent State
     1  
    Sat. 09/10/11



    at Penn State
     4  
    Sat. 09/17/11

    North Texas  1  
    Sat. 09/24/11


    Arkansas
     4  
    Sat. 10/01/11



    at Florida
     3  
    Sat. 10/08/11



    Vanderbilt
     2
    Sat. 10/15/11


    at Ole Miss
     2
    Sat. 10/22/11



    Tennessee
     3
    Sat. 10/29/11 Open Date --- ---
    Sat. 11/05/11



    LSU
     4
    Sat. 11/12/11


    at Mississippi State
     3
    Sat. 11/19/11



    Georgia Southern
     1  
    Sat. 11/26/11



    at Auburn
     4  

    Total Points: 32

    Toughest Games: Arkansas, LSU and at Auburn

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: Penn State

    Cupcakes: Kent State, North Texas and Georgia Southern

    Predicted Record: 11-1

     

    Alabama is another school who has the perfect storm of easier schedule and high talent level.  With three cupcakes on the menu and an average difficulty for an SEC schedule, they could easily be the best in the West by the end of the year, and two of the three toughest games of the year are at home. 

    Penn State is a nice out-of-conference scheduling, though. 

9. Ole Miss Rebels

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

     

    Sat. 09/03/11
    Time TBA

    BYU
    2  
    Sat. 09/10/11
    Time TBA

    Southern Illinois
    1  
    Sat. 09/17/11
    Time TBA

    at Vanderbilt
    2  
    Sat. 09/24/11
    Time TBA

    Georgia
    4  
    Sat. 10/01/11
    9:00 p.m. CT

    at Fresno State
    2  
    Sat. 10/08/11 Open Date    
    Sat. 10/15/11
    Time TBA

    Alabama
    4  
    Sat. 10/22/11
    Time TBA

    Arkansas
    4  
    Sat. 10/29/11
    Time TBA

    at Auburn
    4  
    Sat. 11/05/11
    Time TBA

    at Kentucky
    2  
    Sat. 11/12/11
    Time TBA

    Louisiana Tech
    2  
    Sat. 11/19/11
    Time TBA

    LSU
    4  
    Sat. 11/26/11
    Time TBA

    at Mississippi State
    3  

    Total Points: 34

    Toughest Games: Georgia, Alabama, Arkansas, at Auburn and LSU. 

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: None

    Cupcakes: Southern Illinois

    Predicted Record:  5-7

     

    With no tough out-of-conference games and average to below-average fillers, Ole Miss has a fairly easy schedule.  However, they drew a fairly tough SEC slate, but they get four out of their toughest five games at home. 

    It won't help, because Ole Miss is a couple of good recruiting classes away from becoming relevant in the West again.

8. South Carolina Gamecocks

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

     

    Sat. 09/03/11
    Time TBA

    East Carolina    2
    Sat. 09/10/11
    Time TBA
    at Georgia   4
    Sat. 09/17/11
    Time TBA
    Navy   3
    Sat. 09/24/11
    Time TBA
    Vanderbilt   2
    Sat. 10/01/11
    Time TBA
    Auburn   4
    Sat. 10/08/11
    Time TBA
    Kentucky   2
    Sat. 10/15/11
    Time TBA
    at Mississippi State   3
    Sat. 10/22/11 Open Date    
    Sat. 10/29/11
    Time TBA
    at Tennessee   3
    Sat. 11/05/11
    Time TBA
    at Arkansas   4
    Sat. 11/12/11
    Time TBA
    Florida   3
    Sat. 11/19/11
    Time TBA
    The Citadel   1

     

    Total Points: 34

    Toughest Games: At Georgia, Auburn, at Arkansas

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: Clemson, Navy, East Carolina

    Cupcakes: The Citadel

    Predicted Record: 10-2

     

    South Carolina went out and picked up a couple of solid (if not specatacular) out of-conference teams in Navy (9-3 last year) and East Carolina (a rising program).  They also have their annual rivalry game with Clemson, which adds to the difficulty of the OOC schedule. 

    However, they drew a pretty average SEC slate, but two out of three of their tough games are on the road. 

    This schedule is set up perfectly for South Carolina to win the East a second consecutive year.

7. Arkansas Razorbacks

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

     

    Sat. 09/03/11



    Missouri State
    1


    Sat. 09/10/11


    New Mexico 
     1  
    Sat. 09/17/11


    Troy
     2  
    Sat. 09/24/11


    at Alabama
    4  
    Sat. 10/01/11
    Time TBA

    Texas A&M 
    4  
    Sat. 10/08/11
    Time TBA

    Auburn
    4  
    Sat. 10/15/11 Open Date    
    Sat. 10/22/11



    at Ole Miss
    2  
    Sat. 10/29/11


    at Vanderbilt
    2  
    Sat. 11/05/11



    South Carolina
    4  
    Sat. 11/12/11



    Tennessee
    3  
    Sat. 11/19/11



    Mississippi State 
    3  
    Fri. 11/25/11


    at LSU
    4  

    Total Points: 34

    Toughest Games: At Alabama, Texas A&M, Auburn, South Carolina and at LSU.

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game:  Texas A&M

    Cupcakes:  Missouri State and New Mexico

    Predicted Record: 9-3

     

    Arkansas has a tough schedule but one that works out favorably for them.  They have the easiest beginning of the season schedule in the SEC (by FAR). 

    That will allow them to break in their new quarterback and get ready for the brutal end of season slate that sees them play host to three great teams (including one tough non-conference opponent) and visit two more tough teams. 

    This season could go either way for Arkansas. If they can manage 9-3, it should be considered a great season.

6. Mississippi State Bulldogs

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    Rick Dole/Getty Images

     

    Thu. 09/01/11



    at Memphis
     2
    Sat. 09/10/11



    at Auburn
     4
    Thu. 09/15/11



    LSU
     4
    Sat. 09/24/11



    Louisiana Tech
     2
    Sat. 10/01/11



    at Georgia
     4
    Sat. 10/08/11



    at UAB
     1
    Sat. 10/15/11


    South Carolina
     4
    Sat. 10/22/11 Open Date ---
    Sat. 10/29/11



    at Kentucky
     2
    Sat. 11/05/11


    UT Martin
     1
    Sat. 11/12/11



    Alabama
     4
    Sat. 11/19/11



    at Arkansas
     4
    Sat. 11/26/11


    Ole Miss
     2

    Total Points: 34

    Toughest Games: At Auburn, LSU, at Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama and Arkansas

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: None

    Cupcakes: UT Martin, UAB

    Predicted Record: 7-5

     

    Mississippi State, a surprise last year, won't be surprising anyone at this point.  With six difficult games on the schedule, they better be glad they scheduled two cupcakes. 

    While this team may  be even better than last years, their record may not show it, because they aren't quite at the elite level yet, and they have to play six of the elite SEC teams. 

    This just wasn't a good draw for them.  The good news?  Four of six are at home.

5. Vanderbilt Commodores

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    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

     

    Sat. 09/03/11
    Time TBA

    Elon
    1  
    Sat. 09/10/11
    Time TBA

    Connecticut
    3  
    Sat. 09/17/11
    Time TBA

    Ole Miss
    2  
    Sat. 09/24/11
    Time TBA

    at South Carolina
    4  
    Sat. 10/01/11 Open Date    
    Sat. 10/08/11
    Time TBA

    at Alabama
    4  
    Sat. 10/15/11
    Time TBA

    Georgia
    4  
    Sat. 10/22/11
    Time TBA

    Army
    2  
    Sat. 10/29/11
    Time TBA

    Arkansas
    4  
    Sat. 11/05/11
    Time TBA

    at Florida
    3  
    Sat. 11/12/11
    Time TBA

    Kentucky
    2  
    Sat. 11/19/11
    Time TBA

    at Tennessee
    3  
    Sat. 11/26/11
    Time TBA

    at Wake Forest
    3

    Total Points: 35

    Toughest Games: At South Carolina, at Alabama, Georgia and Arkansas

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: Wake Forest, Connecticut

    Cupcakes: Elon

    Predicted Record: 2-10

     

    Poor, poor Vandy.  Thank goodness for that Week 1 game against Elon, because there isn't another team on the schedule that you truly match up well against.  I gave you a second win because, heck, somewhere on this schedule (that includes two tough out-of-conference foes) there must be an upset waiting for you.  

    Maybe.

4. Tennessee Volunteers

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    Streeter Lecka/Getty Images

     

    Sat. 09/03/11

    Montana 1  
    Sat. 09/10/11

    Cincinnati 3  
    Sat. 09/17/11

    at Florida 3  
    Sat. 09/24/11 Open Date    
    Sat. 10/01/11
    Buffalo 2  
    Sat. 10/08/11

    Georgia 4  
    Sat. 10/15/11

    LSU 4  
    Sat. 10/22/11

    at Alabama 4  
    Sat. 10/29/11

    South Carolina 4  
    Sat. 11/05/11

    Middle Tennessee 2  
    Sat. 11/12/11

    at Arkansas 4  
    Sat. 11/19/11

    Vanderbilt 2  
    Sat. 11/26/11

    at Kentucky 2  
         

    Total Points:  35

    Toughest Games: Georgia, LSU, at Alabama, South Carolina and Arkansas

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: Cincinatti

    Cupcakes: Montana

    Predicted Record: 6-6

     

    Tennessee showed rapid improvement during Derek Dooley's first year as head coach, and part of that was due to the rise of Tyler Bray. 

    They will be tested this year, with tough teams across the board.  They have the most brutal four-game stretch of any team in the SEC in October.  Starting with the Georgia game and ending with South Carolina.  If they split those four games, it could be a special season. 

    If they lose all four, look for them to spiral out of control.

3. Auburn Tigers

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

     

    Sat. 09/03/11
    Utah State   1
    Sat. 09/10/11

    Mississippi State   3
    Sat. 09/17/11
    at Clemson   3
    Sat. 09/24/11
    Florida Atlantic   2
    Sat. 10/01/11

    at South Carolina   4
    Sat. 10/08/11

    at Arkansas   4
    Sat. 10/15/11

    Florida   3
    Sat. 10/22/11
    at LSU   4
    Sat. 10/29/11

    Ole Miss   2
    Sat. 11/05/11 Open Date ---  
    Sat. 11/12/11

    at Georgia   4
    Sat. 11/19/11
    Samford   1
    Sat. 11/26/11
    Time TBA
    Alabama   4

    Total Score: 35

    Toughest Games: At South Carolina, Arkansas, at LSU, at Georgia and Alabama

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: Clemson

    Cupcakes: Utah State, Samford

    Predicted Record: 8-4

     

    Auburn will have it rough in 2011.  Not because they won't be good—because they will  be—but they have an extremely tough schedule. They play all three of the best SEC East teams (Georgia, South Carolina and Florida) on top of their brutal West schedule. 

    They don't have Cam Newton anymore, and while 2010 wasn't a one man show, they definitely wouldn't have finished undefeated with a national championship without him.  Consider 2011 a rebuilding year, in which Auburn wins eight or nine games and preps for another solid run in 2012.

2. Florida Gators

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

     

    Sat. 09/03/11



    Florida Atlantic
     2  
    Sat. 09/10/11



    AB
     1  
    Sat. 09/17/11


    Tennessee
     3  
    Sat. 09/24/11


    at Kentucky
     2  
    Sat. 10/01/11



    Alabama
     4  
    Sat. 10/08/11



    at LSU
     4  
    Sat. 10/15/11



    at Auburn
     4  
    Sat. 10/22/11 Open Date    
    Sat. 10/29/11



    Georgia 1
     4  
    Sat. 11/05/11



    Vanderbilt
     2  
    Sat. 11/12/11



    at South Carolina
     4  
    Sat. 11/19/11



    Furman
     1  
    Sat. 11/26/11



    Florida State
     4  

    Total Points: 35

    Toughest Games: Alabama, at LSU, at Auburn, Georgia, South Carolina and Florida State

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: Florida State

    Cupcakes: UAB and Furman

    Predicted Record: 8-4

     

    With SIX games that I consider against tough opponents (worth four points), Florida has it's work cut out for it under fist-year head coach Will Muschamp.  Also, playing Florida State in a year where many have them in the top five of pre-season polls can't help much.  

1. LSU Tigers

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

     

    Sat. 09/03/11
    Oregon 1   4
    Sat. 09/10/11
    Northwestern State   1
    Thu. 09/15/11
    at Mississippi State   3
    Sat. 09/24/11
    at West Virginia   4
    Sat. 10/01/11
    Kentucky   2
    Sat. 10/08/11

    Florida   3
    Sat. 10/15/11

    at Tennessee   3
    Sat. 10/22/11

    Auburn   4
    Sat. 10/29/11 Open Date    
    Sat. 11/05/11
    at Alabama   4
    Sat. 11/12/11
    Western Kentucky   1
    Sat. 11/19/11

    at Ole Miss   2
    Fri. 11/25/11
    Arkansas   4

    Total Points: 35

    Toughest Games: Oregon, at West Virginia, Auburn, Alabama, Arkansas

    Tough Out-of-Conference Game: Oregon and at West Virginia

    Cupcakes: Western Kentucky and Northwestern State

    Predicted Record: 10-2

     

    For a team many people predict will represent the SEC in the national title game, they are going to have to EARN it.  With extremely un-SEC like out-of-conference scheduling (Oregon and West Virginia... in the same year?) on top of a brutal schedule in the SEC (thank goodness they drew Tennessee and Kentucky from the East, as opposed to Georgia or South Carolina).

    If they finish the season undefeated, there should be no question as to who the national champion contender should be.

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