Which Big 12 Team Has Easiest Schedule, Based On 2013 Records?

Image via philly.com

Slow(ish) day at the office led me to this somewhat statistical breakdown of the upcoming Big 10 football schedule. Admittedly, it is (in my opinion) very simplistic in its approach as there are any number of additional factors (injuries, returning starters, home/away, consideration of the opponent’s league and strength or lack there of, etc.) not being taken into consideration. But I work with numbers every day being an accountant and, for whatever reason, this struck me as a fun little exercise to put together for the Big 12 teams. And being that it took all of about 15 minutes (Excel is the best, right?), I figured why not make a post out of it and open up the results for discussion. After all, it is the offseason and we need any and every excuse to talk football we can find. No matter how mundane, right?

Just as the Fox Sports Wisconsin guy did, I simply took the respective 2014 schedules for each Big 12 team and collected the opponent’s 2013 win/loss records. However while the original version focused on conference play, since the Big 12 no longer has divisions (and they play a round-robin schedule), I expanded my data to include the non-conference opponents in addition to league play.

Here are the results, after which I’ll expand on some of what I found:

Oklahoma: 71-78 (.477 win percentage)
Texas Tech: 74-75 (.497)
Baylor: 78-72 (.520)
Kansas State: 79-72 (.523)
Kansas: 86-66 (.566)
Oklahoma State: 86-65 (.570)
TCU: 87-65 (.572)
Texas: 89-63 (.586)
West Virginia: 97-59 (.622)
Iowa State: 97-57 (.630)

As you can see, based on this admittedly simplistic approach, there is at least some argument to be made that Oklahoma will be playing the easiest 2014 schedule among Big 12 teams. That opponent’s win percentage number is hurt pretty significantly by OU’s three non-conference opponents (Louisiana Tech, Tulsa & Tennessee) who finished the 2013 season with 4-8, 3-9, and 5-7 records, respectively. And it’s probably fair to say that 2013 was an uncharacteristic year for all three of those squads, in terms of their win/loss records. Granted, the Vols are probably a 7-5 or 8-4 type of program in that league right now and flipping those two or three wins isn’t going to drastically alter that .477 number. But combine that with a more “typical” year from La Tech and Tulsa then you’re likely looking at the Sooners being somewhere more middle of the pack.

Meanwhile, when you look at Iowa State — who based on the percentages faces the theoretically toughest schedule — the numbers are inflated somewhat due to 2014 opponent North Dakota State’s 15-0 FCS record last year. Which is not a knock on the Bison, as K-State can certainly attest, who are a quality football program. But it’s still FCS and you’re kidding yourself if you think they’re not beating up on over-matched opponents pretty regularly. Additionally, with ISU finishing so poorly in the league (2-7) those wins obviously help to boost the other Big 12 squads respective win percentages. Thus increasing the difficulty of ISU’s schedule.

Found it kind of interesting that OSU and KU would be so close to one another considering they are clearly on opposite ends of the spectrum with the Pokes just missing out on a Big 12 title (you’re welcome – signed, Bedlam) and the Jayhawks bringing up the rear. The clear difference here being the boost — though I suspect most OSU fans won’t be referring to it that way late Saturday night on Aug. 30th — OSU receives from Florida State’s (their season opening opponent) 14-0 record last year.

Anyway at the sake of discrediting my own “research”, I’m not entirely sure how much weight one should behind behind these numbers but as I said earlier, it’s kind of interesting to consider. So do with it what you will.

  • Josh

    Very surprised to see OU at the top of this list but think it is an anomaly as the Sooner’s athletic department has done a very nice job in the past, present, and future of scheduling quality programs, Alabama, Oregon, Miami, Florida St, ND, Tennessee, Ohio St. UCLA, Nebraska. No telling from year to year exactly how a program will fare especially with how far in advance many of the nonconference games are scheduled. So many other factors go into exactly how difficult a teams schedule is, when and where games are played being very significant, but I do believe this season’s schedule does set up nicely for the Sooners. Of course going to Lubbock is never a fun trip, but outside of that I think the table is set for a special season.

  • Bob Edwards

    Well the flaw in this is that, since the B12 is a round robin, the record of each team is .500 minus the fact that a team does not play itself. So the better record a team had last year the worse its conference opponents’ record will be because its opponents. So the numbers are basically the inverse of a team’s record plus its out of conference teams’ record.

  • TheKid

    I’m curious what your Excel spreadsheet would look like if you deleted the Big XII conference games and only had non-conference games. By comparing against in conference teams the numbers will always be skewed against the top tier teams since their Wins count against then in strength of schedule and lower tier teams losses increase their strength of schedule. To go even further you could delete the wins/losses from the game the team in question actually played against the other opponent. Since someone who goes 10-2 would have a strength of schedule of 2-10 for those games and a team who went 2-10 would have a strength of schedule of 10-2. Capisce?

    • DrZemus

      I appreciate the post Jordan, but I with these guys about the inverse and non-conference stats. just think about it. Iowa state gets a ton more credit for playing OU than vice versa. But again, your conclusion might also be correct in another way – OU has the easiest Big 12 schedule because we stomp almost all that oppose us.

      • Jordan Esco

        Absolutely. As I attempted to convey in the post, it’s about the most simplistic (and obviously flawed) way to present this particular data.

  • tforce

    Important question, but as others have pointed out, the methodology is key.

    I’d take a computerized ranking system and include only NON-conference opponents as the round-robin schedule equalizes the B12 conference schedule. If you want to use 2013 data, Sargain’s will include I-AA teams like ND St and put them at an appropriate level. You could use two systems like Sargain’s and Bill Connelly’s.

    Another, possibly more useful way to do it is to use 2014 projections. Tulsa and Tennessee will be better than 2013. La Tech will probably still be in the bottom 20-30 teams in I-A (no longer FBS?).

  • roygbell

    All I can say is that any system that picks Tech to finish 2nd, Kansas to finish 5th and Texas to finish 8th in the 2014 conference race is seriously flawed.

    • Super Keith

      That’s not the projected finishes, it’s the “calculated” strength of schedule (from easiest to hardest).

      • roygbell

        My bad. I wasn’t paying much attention. Already knew OU had an advantage within the conference as we play the major contenders at home, except for Texas which is on a neutral field.

  • Super Keith

    I actually think OU has the easiest schedule they’ve had in years. Out of conference of course.

    Tennessee could be a real test in 2015, but they are just too young (and it’s in Norman) to put up much resistance this season.

    La Tech is not the same team they were before the coaching change. They aren’t as good as the ULM team we faced last year, but will be a decent opening opponent.

    Tulsa is Tulsa. For some reason, I always like when we play in Tulsa. Of course I’d rather be in Norman, but it’s always cool/different to see the Sooners play in a small(er) venue. Anyway, that’s not a “hard” game.

    There’s no reason OU should be anything less than 3-0 out of conference.

  • Sooner Ray

    Jordan, I’m only gonna say this once. Get your head out of the books, step outside and enjoy some fresh spring weather. 🙂

    • Jordan Esco

      I would but it’s been pretty crappy weather here in KC of late.