Pac-10 Football: No Tougher Conference in 2009

Full disclosure here: I'm a USC alumnus and love what the football program has been doing the past eight years since Coach Pete Carroll has taken over the team.  But I'm also on record with some of my buddies as being a fan of several other programs in the conference, most notably Oregon, Cal, and Oregon State's programs.  I'm no expert, but year after year for the past five-plus years, the coaches seem like they put together exciting, solid, competitive teams and just as importantly to me, I don't read stories in the paper about coaching scandals or see videos of the head coaches (Bellotti / Kelly, Tedford, Riley) losing their tempers for really silly reasons.

I love Pac-10 football, and it just seems to me that they've had the toughest conference and toughest schedules in the nation for the past year.  So I decided to check out my theory and see if that's right.

To do so, I checked out this week's Jeff Sagarin ratings; it has strength-of-schedule listings  (look at the column labeled "RANK" in parentheses).  The list isn't ranked by strength-of-schedule, but if you scan down the RANK column and look for single-digit numbers, those are the schools with the toughest ranked schedules this year.

Here are some observations about the Pac-10's tough schedules in 2009:

  • USC: 7 (USC has the seventh-toughest schedule in the nation this year, according to Sagarin)
  • Oregon: 6 (a tiny bit tougher than USC's schedule.  Arguably correct.)
  • Oregon State: 9.  Yep, they've got a tough schedule alright.
  • UCLA: 3.  3rd toughest schedule in the land.
  • UW: 1.  I agree: they probably have the single toughest schedule in the nation this year, and they're paying for it.  If the Huskies were in the Big-12 or the ACC, they'd be competitive for the league title.
  • WSU: 2.  Poor Washington State is getting spanked, and is getting no credit for its schedule.

The next toughest conference is the ACC, with only 2 teams in the top 10 toughest schedules:
  • Virginia Tech (#4)
  • Florida State (#5)

So far, we've accounted for 8 of the top 10 toughest schedules.  The other two are:
  • #8: San Jose State (who played the Trojans in their season opener, then Stanford two weeks later);
  • 10th-ranked toughest schedule: Georgia.

9 out of the 10 teams in the Pac-10 have schedules in the Top 20 (i.e., amongst the 20 toughest schedules in the nation).  The only team with a weaker schedule than top 20 is Arizona State, and even their schedule is a respectable 36th-toughest nationally.

I'm guessing we will see this play out during the bowl games, assuming that enough Pac-10 schools get invited to bowls.  Last year, the Pac-10 did well, with an NCAA-best 5-0 record in bowl games.  I'd love to see that happen again this year, and after watching the crazily-competitive matchups in the Pac-10 this season, I see every reason to believe the Pac-10 is going to do itself proud again this year.

Go Pac-10!


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I agree, but...

what the heck is going on with the Mountain West! BYU slams Oregon State. Utah hammers Cal (and on a lesser note Wyoming squeaks by Fresno St). Who else thinks TCU/Boise may be the best bowl game of the season? Hoping the best for the rest of the Pac-10 bowl games...

Agreed George!

It's been great times watching Pac-10 football games this year. Well...great in terms of the uncertainty and excitement, not so great in terms of our teams winning games. :) Here's to another sweep of bowl games by the conference of champions!

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