The question arises each year: Who plays the toughest schedule? At the beginning of the season, the NCAA releases a rating of each team's schedule based on its opponents' records from the previous season. This is a good method, but it does have obvious flaws.
The first flaw is basing the ratings on opponents' records from the previous season. Let's look at a few examples.
Last year, I had TCU as my most improved team in the country. The Horned Frogs won 12 games and nearly made the first College Football Playoff. I also had Memphis as one of my most improved teams, and the Tigers won the Miami Beach Bowl, finishing 10-3 and ranked No. 25 in the Associated Press poll. However, if you used the NCAA method, you got credit for playing two teams that were a combined 7-17 in 2013 with TCU being 4-8 and Memphis 3-9.
Last year, Vanderbilt was clearly a much weaker team than in 2013. It was coming off a 9-4 season but had 10 returning starters and a new head coach. Fresno State had Derek Carr in 2013 and went 11-2 but last year had just 13 returning starters and was replacing an NFL starting quarterback. By the NCAA method of determining strength of schedule, you would have gotten credit for playing a pair of teams that were 20-6 the previous year, yet those two teams finished a combined 9-17 in 2014.
The second flaw is that a team's record does not determine its strength. Let's compare a couple of hypothetical schedules and see which one you would rather face.