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2013 AdvoCare V100 'Independence' Bowl: What Does Strength Of Schedule Tell Us?

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A look at BC and Arizona's strength of schedule as we head toward Shreveport

Darren McCollester

Currently most of the odds makers have installed Arizona as a 7-7 1/2 point favorite over Boston College in the I-Bowl coming up on December 31. I think most of us believe this game will be close. Two teams who do it predominantly on the ground, albeit with some differences in how they get there and two defenses, who at times have struggled. Not to mention the match up of the two All America running backs in Andre Williams and Ka'Deem Carey.

So why the edge to the 'Cats? Statistically, Arizona appears to have a slight edge across the board on Boston College, when you figure in rush offense, pass offense, rush defense, pass defense, scoring offense, scoring defense, but it's marginal at best.

Strength of schedule may be the tell tale sign. For the second half of the year I have published my "Book" spreads and ratings weekly on BCI. There is an uncanny similarity between the Book rankings and those of some of the established computer experts like Jeff Sagarin and Kenneth Massey. The Massey site has a great roll up of all the major ratings that you might want to check out.

One of the arguments made for Arizona is that the Pac 12 is simply better than the ACC and that overall Arizona has played a stronger schedule than BC. This was part of a post just yesterday on BCI looking at the Pac 12 South vs the ACC Atlantic. The ratings seem to bear that out.

Removing the FCS game that each team played and focusing on the remaining 11 games, the average Boston College opponent rating is 59.1 (out of 125 FBS programs) according to the Book and 59.8 according to the Massey roll up. Arizona on the other hand, had their opponents average 49.1 (Book) and 46.8 (Massey), a significant difference.

As far as wins go, the six FBS victories for BC were achieved vs opponents whose ratings averaged 85.2 taking the average of the Book and Massey ratings, while Arizona's average win came vs opponents rated 68.6.

Finally, if you stack ranked the teams 12 total wins and how they related to those rankings, Arizona posted the only win (Oregon) vs any top 40 opponent.

Now before you get too caught up in it, it is worth noting that both BC and Arizona each only had one win over a team above 50 (Arizona vs Oregon and BC vs Virginia Tech). BC also had the worst loss of between the two at Syracuse (66) as well as the two worst wins (Army 111 and New Mexico State 118).

I think this helps explains the spread as well as a way to separate two 7-5 teams from two AQ conferences.

UNLV Rebels 71 76 73.5 Wake Forest Demon Deacons 74 82 78
Texas-San Antonio Roadrunners 73 70 71.5 USC Trojans 23 22 x
Washington Huskies 18 21 x Florida St. Seminoles 1 1 x
USC Trojans 23 22 x Army Black Knights 111 111 111
Utah Utes 61 54 57.5 Clemson Tigers 15 13 x
Colorado Buffaloes 94 87 90.5 North Carolina Tar Heels 27 51 x
California Golden Bears 109 107 108 Virginia Tech Hokies 54 33 43.5
UCLA Bruins 17 15 x New Mexico St. Aggies 118 116 117
Washington St. Cougars 53 44 x N.C. State Wolfpack 97 96 96.5
Oregon Ducks 12 9 10.5 Maryland Terrapins 64 66 65
Arizona St. Sun Devils 9 10 x Syracuse Orange 66 67 x
TOTAL 540 515 411.5 TOTAL 650 658 511
AVG OPP RATING 49.1 46.8 68.6 AVG OPP RATING 59.1 59.8 85.2