Many fans outside of the SEC argue that the SEC primarily schedules cupcake teams out of conference (OOC). I set out to breakdown the parity between the USA's top-ten preseason teams to compare their premium opponents to the cupcakes in an Alabama/LSU—SEC versus the rest of the conferences match-up to settle 2011's CFB cupcake dispute.
LSU has the most difficult schedule of the top-10 teams this year. According to the Coach's poll and in chronological order LSU plays: #3 Oregon, #20 Mississippi State, #27 West Virginia, #23 Florida, #19 Auburn, #2 Alabama, and #14 Arkansas.
#1 Oklahoma plays five top-27 teams
#2 Alabama - 6
#3 Oregon - 3
#4 LSU - 7
#5 Florida State - 2
#6 Stanford - 3
#7 Boise State - 2
#8 Oklahoma State - 4
#9 Texas A&M - 5
#10 Wisconsin - 4
Should SEC teams schedule difficult out of conference (OOC) games?
The top-10 teams play a combined 41 top-27 teams (Arizona State and West Virginia were ranked #26 and #27 respectively and Oregon plays Arizona State and LSU plays West Virginia).
Alabama and LSU combine to play 13 top-27 teams (12 top-25).
Oklahoma, Oregon, Florida State and Stanford combine to play 13 top-27 teams (12 top-25).
-Oklahoma plays (3): Tulsa, Ball State and Iowa State
-Alabama plays (4): Kent State, North Texas, Georgia Southern and Vanderbilt
-Oregon plays (2): Missouri State and Washington State
-LSU plays (2): Northwestern State and Western Kentucky
-Florida State plays (2): Louisiana-Monroe and Charleston Southern
-Stanford plays (2): San Jose State and Washington State
-Boise State plays (6): Toledo, Tulsa, Colorado State, San Diego State, Wyoming and New Mexico
-Oklahoma State plays (3): Louisiana-Lafayette, Tulsa and Iowa State
-Texas A&M plays (2): Iowa State and Idaho
-Wisconsin plays (2): Northern Illinois and South Dakota
The top-10 teams play a combined 28 cupcake teams.
Alabama and LSU combine to play six cupcake teams.
Oklahoma, Oregon, Florida State and Stanford combine to play nine cupcake teams.
The point is parity and the difference between the top-27 teams and the cupcakes are the unknowns for the season. Maybe, some of the other teams will turn out to be better than expected because that is college football. However, if the SEC (with eight top-25 teams) did not schedule OOC games with the "cupcakes", what borderline to above-average teams (e.g. Washington, Boston College, California, Syracuse or Oregon State...etc.) should they play and are mid-range teams willing to schedule the SEC OOC?