Phil Steele’s 2013 ACC Football Strength of Schedule Rankings

Pittsburgh (Somehow) Has the ACC's Toughest Schedule in 2013

Pittsburgh (Somehow) Has the ACC’s Toughest Football Schedule in 2013

Once again, Phil Steele has released his preseason strength of schedule rankings. And once again, the ACC hasn’t performed so well. That’s not necessarily a bad thing — an elite team should be able to run through an easy schedule without much issue. But it also serves as a black eye on the conference for the relative lack of strength the teams possess in Steele’s eyes.

First, a look at Steele’s rankings. These are determined by looking at his nine sets of power ratings, plus the number of home and away games. The NCAA does a strict opponent W-L record method, which we’ll take a look at below as well.

Phil Steele’s 2013 ACC Strength of Schedule Rankings (numbers are national rankings)

24. Pittsburgh Panthers

27. Virginia Cavaliers

36. Boston College Eagles

41. Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets

42. North Carolina Tar Heels

46. Syracuse Orange

48. Wake Forest Demon Deacons

55. Clemson Tigers

57. NC State Wolfpack

59. Virginia Tech Hokies

60. Miami Hurricanes

62. Maryland Terrapins

64. Florida State Seminoles

77. Duke Blue Devils

98. Louisville Cardinals

Some thoughts:

  • The two weakest schedules — Duke’s and Louisville’s — should provide great opportunity for both teams. I see the Blue Devils getting back to the postseason this year, and this certainly aids that. The Cardinals are aiming for an undefeated season in 2013, and having a weak schedule (thanks, American Athletic Conference!) like that certainly helps matters.
  • Most of the teams finish around the middle of the pack, largely due to where most of the conference finished last year (in the 5-7 to 7-5 range).
  • I’m shocked to see Clemson that low, considering they have South Carolina and Georgia on the schedule, but when your division’s just two-deep, I guess that’ll happen.
  • Shocked to see Pitt that high, especially with a weak non-conference schedule outside of Notre Dame. The inverse could be said of Miami, who’s facing Florida (but at home), yet still comes in around 60th.

***

The NCAA method, which we touched on above, is just a simple W-L record. It’s not indicative of overall strength, so much as previous season’s success, without accounting for opponent strength whatsoever. These look very different from Steele’s.

NCAA 2013 Strength of Schedule Rankings (numbers are national rankings)

11. Pittsburgh

16. NC State

24. Georgia Tech

28. Virginia

45. Clemson

47. North Carolina

52. Syracuse

55. Maryland

63. Boston College

70. Florida State

72. Wake Forest

84. Duke

89. Louisville

93. Miami

99. Virginia Tech

  • Stark difference above, as you’ll see a lot more “weak” schedules than Steele’s methodology gives us. A lot of that is from the increasingly cupcake-driven non-conference schedules of several ACC teams, plus the league’s weakness overall last year.
  • FSU and Clemson both get dinged a bit since they don’t have to play themselves. The rest of the Atlantic gets a boost from playing both.
  • Really shocked to see Virginia Tech that far down, considering they play Alabama to start the year. Beyond that though, not a whole lot of competition.
  • Again, Miami’s ranking also surprises, since they’ve got FSU and Florida on there. Inversely, Pitt… how are you up that high?

Your thoughts? Any other surprises you see there? Discuss in the comments below.

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