Florida State and Oklahoma losing hurts BYU's chances of rising in the rankings...
Strength of schedule is a very interesting mistress to any college football team. For BYU it appears to be an incredibly fickled mistress this season.
BYU will set their schedule four to five years in advance. In some rare cases they can change their schedule to accommodate a onetime event, like the Oklahoma game to start the season. Schedule making is really a fine art form.
A schedule which is difficult on paper, against perennial powers, will give a big boast to teams to start the season. This is evidenced in BYU’s quick rise up the polls in the first two weeks of the season. It would also explain the talk at the beginning of the season about the possibility of BYU getting to a BCS bowl game, even if they lost one of their big non-conference games this season.
For all the rewards and accolades BYU received in the preseason about the strength of their schedule, it is equal to the penalties and criticism they are now receiving because of their schedule.
Last week BYU dropped in the polls (AP # 20, Coaches # 21) after beating an undefeated Colorado State team. Why? Florida State was upset at home by South Florida.
This week BYU barely moved up in the polls (AP # 18, Coaches #20), although multiple teams ranked ahead of BYU lost. Why? Florida State lost again to Boston College and Oklahoma failed to win on the road against Miami.
In college football once a team plays another team, those two teams are connected for the remainder of the season.
For BYU losing to Florida State was really the worst case scenario. Florida State is such an up-and-down team this season, they have the talent to beat BYU; however, they lack the consistency to maintain their high level of play. Florida State will act like an anchor on BYU’s potential for the remainder of the season.
BYU fans need to be hoping the Seminoles turn around their season, and get back to winning.
The Cougars were hoping that their win over Oklahoma would balance out their loss to Florida State. Yet, Oklahoma losing again will really hurt how high BYU is able to rise in the polls. There is still a chance for BYU to really benefit from their Oklahoma victory. If the Sooners can defeat Texas on October 17th, then BYU will rise with Oklahoma in the polls.
The problem with the remainder of BYU’s schedule is they don’t have a team which will help them to have a rebounding victory in the polls. The mid-level Mountain West Conference teams aren’t helping to bolster the conference, as they continue to lose winnable games to lesser opponents. Colorado State losing to Idaho and Air Force’s inability to beat Navy has crippled the conference.
TCU is by far the best team left on BYU’s schedule. Yet, if BYU were to beat TCU they would merely be hurting themselves.
TCU is depending on beating BYU as their marquee victory for the season. TCU’s non-conference wins were over Virginia, who just got their first win over North Carolina this weekend, and Clemson who followed up their loss to TCU with a loss to a (2-3) Maryland team.
If BYU beats TCU then TCU’s strength of schedule will hurt the Horned Frogs, forcing them to plummet in the polls. While BYU will get a bump in the polls by beating TCU, the bump will not be as big as TCU’s potential fall.
TCU will benefit much more from playing and beating BYU, than BYU will benefit from defeating TCU.
Boise State is benefiting from the play of a former opponent. Boise State’s schedule is soft. Their only real competition came in their season opener against Oregon. When Oregon was struggling after the Boise State loss, the Broncos also failed to climb quickly in the polls.
Yet, after Oregon beat Cal convincingly at home, it was really Boise State who benefited from the victory. Boise State was able to rise up into the top five the increase in their strength of schedule.
This week though Boise State’s soft schedule began to haunt the Broncos, as they were leap forged in the polls by a one loss Virginia Tech team. The voters just didn’t think the Broncos win was impressive enough over UC Davis to warrant Boise State keeping the top spot.
Strength of schedule really makes college football interesting. In no other sport do you need to cheer for teams you play to do well before and after you play them.
When really broken down, strength of schedule is no more than speculation of college football media and fans. It is just another excuse given to poll voters to manipulate the standings. As long as there is no playoff system in college football, then teams will continue to be connected to every team on their schedule.
All teams can do is play the schedule they have, win, and hope for their opponents to play well enough to move them up in the polls.