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Who Really Had The Toughest Schedule In The SEC This Season?

gfx - by the numbersEvery offseason there’s a debate over which SEC team has been given the easiest in-conference schedule for the upcoming football season.  With the regular season behind us, we thought it might be fun to look back at the 2012 regular season schedules with the knowledge of just how good teams really were.

The project was quite simple.

We tossed out non-conference games and looked only at each squad’s SEC schedule.  Then we simply tallied up the win totals of each team’s opponents, followed by their victims.  First, here’s a look at who really faced the toughest SEC slates in 2012 based on their opponents’ win totals:


  School   SEC Record   Opp. Wins
  Auburn   0-8   40
  Missouri   2-6   39
  Tennessee   1-7   38
  Ole Miss   3-5   37
  LSU   6-2   35
  Kentucky   0-8   34
  Arkansas   2-6   33
  Florida   7-1   33
  Texas A&M   6-2   31
  S. Carolina   6-2   30
  Vanderbilt   5-2   26
  Miss. State   4-4   25
  Alabama   7-1   24
  Georgia   7-1   24


Now let’s look at which teams did the most with their schedules.  For this exercise, we gave each team a point for all the wins tallied by the teams it beat — a point for each of its victim’s wins.  Example: Texas A&M beat 7-1 Alabama so the Aggies were given seven points for that victory.


  School   SEC Record   Victims’ Wins
  Florida   7-1   26
  LSU   6-2   21
  Alabama   7-1   18
  Georgia   7-1   18
  Texas A&M   6-2   18
  S. Carolina   6-2   17
  Vanderbilt   5-3   6
  Ole Miss   3-5   6
  Miss. State   4-4   3
  Missouri   2-6   1
  Arkansas   2-6   0
  Tennessee   1-7   0
  Auburn   0-8   0
  Kentucky   0-8   0


So who did the most against the toughest league schedule this past season?  Florida.  Easily.  The Gators faced three six-win teams (LSU, Texas A&M and South Carolina) and a seven-win team (Georgia) this past season.  That’s some heavy lifting and the Gators still wound up in a BCS bowl.

LSU, Alabama, Georgia, Texas A&M and South Carolina have nothing to be ashamed of, either.  But after those top six teams things really drop off.

Vanderbilt, Ole Miss and Mississippi State all achieved bowl eligibility with the aid of what turned out to be Cracker Jack conference schedules.

Auburn and Missouri — just look at that top chart again — had the roughest slates of games in the league.  Unfortunately, they couldn’t do much with them.

Now, we’re not saying the league office set things up this way.  We’re not conspiracy theorists.  After all, no one expected Auburn and Tennessee to go a combined 1-15 in league play this year.  Had the Tigers and Vols played just .500 ball as was expected, the numbers above would have been skewed quite a bit.  Also, did anyone see Arkansas finishing 2-6?  And who predicted Texas A&M would finish 6-2 with a Heisman-winning redshirt freshman quarterback?

Still, for those looking to argue about the schedule thing… here’s a tool for you to use.


Billy Koehler
Billy Koehler

Did you think about controlling for the strength of the team in question?  What I mean is, by losing all of their games Auburn made their opponents look better and conversely made their schedule look harder.  The inverse is true for Alabama and Florida whose wins make their schedules look a bit easier.  If you take out the total number of opponents' wins that came against the team in question, you get a better picture in my opinion.  It doesn't change things greatly, but it does change some.  An adjusted opponents' wins list would look like:


t-1.  Missouri    33

t-1.  LSU            33

t-3.  Auburn       32

t-3.  Florida       32

t-3.  Ole Miss    32

6.    Tennessee  31

7.    Texas A&M   29

8.    S. Carolina  28

9.    Arkansas     27

10.  Kentucky      26

11.  Vanderbilt    24

t-12.  Georgia     23

t-12.  Alabama   23

14.  Miss State   21

John at MrSEC
John at MrSEC moderator

 @General Malaise 


Thought about it?  Yes.  But we've found the more complicated we make things, the more complaints we receive.  For that reason, we elected to keep this one simple.  (Though we always get some complaints whether we go the simple route or the in-depth route.)


Thanks for reading,John 

Billy Koehler
Billy Koehler

 @John at MrSEC Not a complaint, just the way I thought about it when I first saw the numbers.  The unbalanced schedule is always interesting to parse.  You've got a great site.


 @John at MrSEC  @General Malaise

 Not  complaining.  Just discussing.  The site is great and I love the stats, especially given that you always find a new slant on them.


 @General Malaise

 Which is exactly why it is impossible to compare schedules.  There are obvious discrepancies (see SC and GA), but when we get into subleties there is no accurate method.  It is also impossible to account for which teams tanked the rest of their seasons due to one loss or whether one team played LSU at home while another got them on the road...


@MrSEC Even with our sorry a** coach if u want 2 call him 1


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