Sunday, December 2, 2012

Alabama Fans Are Wrong About Who Had The Tougher Schedule

The match up we all predicted ever since Notre Dame took over the #1 ranking is officially set. Also, as we predicted Alabama/SEC fans are already talking their junk about how Notre Dame's schedule can't compare to Alabama's. They say that Notre Dame could never play an SEC schedule and win consistently.

I won't argue that the SEC is an outstanding conference. They have won six straight BCS National Championships and there is something to say for that. They are also in position for another one.

Having said that, I am tired of them acting like they are the only conference in the nation and that they play such a tough schedule. So I decided to breakdown the schedules for the two teams to see just how much tougher the see the Crimson Tide's schedule is than the Fighting Irish's. The results are not what Alabama and the rest of the SEC want to see.

First let's look at opponents records. Assuming Navy beats Army as expected, the combined record for Notre Dame's opponents is 82-62. That is 20 games over .500. Alabama's opponents on the other hand, have a combined record of 81-75. That is only six games over .500. Also, that is misleading because I counted Georgia which was not a regular season opponent and that accounted for 11 wins. So without the Georgia game, the record is 70-73.

Only two of Notre Dame's opponents (Boston College and Wake Forest) have losing records. That means that 10 of Notre Dame's opponents qualified for bowl games. Miami chose to self suspend themselves but they were eligible nonetheless. The Fighting Irish also played against that are from the Big Ten, PAC 12, Big 12, ACC, and Big East. In fact, all of their opponents except Navy and BYU, who are also independents are from major conferences. That means that they didn't play any FCS teams or teams from non-BCS conferences.

Notre Dame also defeated PAC 12 champ Stanford currently ranked #6 and #11 Oklahoma who got robbed out of a BCS bowl and could arguably be ranked ahead of a couple of those SEC teams in front of them.

Now looking at Alabama's quality of opponents, I will give them credit for opening impressively against Michigan, but after that it is not that impressive. Yes they do play in the SEC, but let's take a look at who they played outside the conference besides Michigan. They played Western Kentucky and Florida Atlantic from the Sun Belt Conference which is slightly above an FCS level team. Not only that, FAU is a bad Sun Belt team and WKU is barely above .500. They also played Western Carolina in November which is not only an FCS team but a bad one who only won one game.

Oh but wait, the SEC has all the good teams so their conference schedule makes up for their weak non-conference schedule. Right? Well, the SEC does have six teams in the top 10. However, we can't forget that the conference is two divisions meaning that the Tide doesn't even play half of them. They did not play Florida or South Carolina. In the regular season, they only played two teams in the top ten (LSU and Texas A + M) and they lost to one of them. They did escape against Georgia.

While the SEC is a tough conference, that doesn't mean that their aren't really bad teams such as Arkansas, Missippi, Missouri, Tennessee, and Auburn. All of which were on Alabama's schedule and their combined record is 23-37. Five of Alabama's opponents did not qualify for postseason play. 8 did reach bowls but I want to look at one team in particular and that is Ole Miss. They will play in the Compass bowl with a 6-6 record. Here is the sad part. three of those wins are against FCS or non-BCS conference teams. One win is against Auburn and one against Arkansas. So only one of their wins is legit.

Looking at the SEC as a whole, here is the thing that really grinds at my guts. While they have won six straight titles they seem to have a formula of least resistance that makes them look better than they really are. By making divisions, they already bypass having to play some of the tough teams in the conference. The second part of the formula is to schedule only one team from another major conference and try to make it so it is a mediocre opponent. Then they also schedule two teams from conferences such as the Sun Belt, MAC, Conference USA, WAC, etc.

Before you roll your eyes, look at the numbers. This season the SEC played 15 FCS teams and 26 teams from those non-BCS conferences. The part that makes me really scratch my head is that if the SEC is so much better than all the other conferences, why do they avoid playing the tough teams from other conferences. Better yet, why do none of them want to schedule Notre Dame?

For the next month Alabama fans will walk around with this delusion in their head that they will roll over Notre Dame with ease because Notre Dame hasn't played a schedule that compares to theirs. The reality is that the whole country has underestimated the Fighting Irish all season and that Alabama hasn't played a schedule that compares to Notre Dame's.

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