Posted: 2:43 pm Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

Who’s playing the toughest road schedule in the SEC? 

By Tony Barnhart

The Associated Press preseason media poll was released Sunday. Now I know many of you don’t put a whole lot of stock in human polls. And with the arrival of the first College Football Playoff and its selection committee, the traditional polls simply don’t mean as much as they did during the BCS era (1998-2013).

But what the preseason polls can do is give us a place to start the conversation, knowing fully that where we start and where we end up could likely be the difference between night and day.

Still, it gives us a metric for today’s topic: Which SEC team is going to play the toughest road schedule this season?  I have always believed there are two critical elements to evaluating the relative strength of SEC schedules year in and year out: 1) Who do you play in the other division? 2) Who do you play on the road?

There are a lot of different ways to measure the strength of a road schedule.  Here’s mine: First I determined how many of the AP Top 25  each team played among their five games away from home. Then, how many of those ranked opponents are in the Top 10? I counted neutral-site games as road games.

That’s my methodology. If you don’t agree, come up with your own. I’d love to read it. You may believe that Tennessee’s four ranked road opponents with two Top 10s, trumps Texas A&M’s three ranked opponents, all in the Top 10.

But using my system and the rankings from the AP poll,  here is how I ranked the road schedules for 2014:

1. Texas A&M: Three ranked teams but all three are in the Top 10 — No. 9 South Carolina, No. 2 Alabama, No. 6 Auburn.

2. Tennessee: Four ranked teams — No. 4 Oklahoma, No. 12 Georgia, No. 18 Ole Miss, No. 9 South Carolina — with two in the Top 10.

3. Florida: Three ranked teams — No. 2 Alabama, No. 12 Georgia (Jacksonville), No. 1 Florida State — with two in the Top 10. Only school in the country that plays both Nos. 1 and 2. And both games are on the road. Ouch! I could be talked into moving the Gators to No. 2.

4. Auburn: Four ranked teams — No. 20 Kansas State, No. 18 Ole Miss, No. 12 Georgia, No. 2 Alabama — with one in the Top 10.

5. Mississippi State: Three ranked teams — No. 13 LSU, No. 2 Alabama, No. 18 Ole Miss — with one in the Top 10.

6. LSU: Three ranked teams — No. 14 Wisconsin (Houston), No. 6 Auburn, No. 21 Texas A&M — with one in the Top 10.

7. Arkansas: Three ranked teams — No. 6 Auburn, No. 21 Texas A&M, No. 24 Missouri — with one in the Top 10.

8.  South Carolina: Two ranked teams — No. 6 Auburn, No. 16 Clemson — with one in the Top 10.

9. Missouri: Two ranked teams — No. 9 South Carolina, No. 21 Texas A&M — with one in the Top 10

10. Georgia: Two ranked teams — No. 9 South Carolina, No. 24 Missouri — with one in the Top 10.

11. Alabama: Two ranked teams — No. 18 Ole Miss, No. 13 LSU — with none in the Top 10.

12. Ole Miss: Two ranked teams — No. 21 Texas A&M, No. 13 LSU — with none in the Top 10.

13. Kentucky: Two ranked teams — No. 13 LSU, No. 24 Missouri — with none in the Top 10.

14. Vanderbilt: Two ranked teams — No. 12 Georgia, No. 24 Missouri — with none in the Top 10. Vanderbilt is the only team in the conference that plays eight home games.

Those are my road rankings. What are yours?

69 comments
dawgfacedboy
dawgfacedboy

Gandalf- UGA doesn't play Clemson on the road...this is the toughest "ROAD" schedules in the SEC.

dawgfacedboy
dawgfacedboy

OH-IO- you lost your Heisman candidate at QB and you are not worried? Wow. There are 119 other teams that would love to have that depth at QB.


Then again, you do play in the Big 10 so it's not like you have any tough games. I'm sure you will be fine.

Gandolph
Gandolph

Dang, Tony, do your homework. You don't show Alabama playing #6 Auburn or Georgia playing #16 Clemson.  I am not going to check, but how many others did you miss?

OH-IO
OH-IO

@TampGator1



Boo hoo. The Injury


Boo hoo. The turf


Boo hoo,  Bad luck


Boo hoo. The refs


Boo hoo. The coach


Boo hoo. The oh so vaunted scheule


Good thing the dogs have showed me how to whine. NOT


Too bad for Braxton, Great opportunity for JT.  We have multiple fast skill position players  ( this is for you tampa) to spread the wealth around. The only thing we've lost is Braxton's chance for a Heisman.  Everything else is still on the table. 


BCB
BCB

Poor UF. LMAO

Oldschooldog
Oldschooldog

Tony, Good methodology. I believe the "when" is important, too. Takes some time to go through all the schedules. For UGA, going to USC early and after an off week is probably a plus on the "when" ledger. But over the 10/11-11/8 four game road trip UGA will travel about 2,000 miles. Jax will be the shortest of the four. Some years that's the Dogs' LONGEST trip. So, though quality of opponents remains to be seen, I suspect difficulty of UGA's road trek is underrated. As a Dog fan, don't need to be Munson or Dooley to have concern about that gauntlet. Interesting stuff!

PigIron
PigIron

Kentucky and Vanderbilt have the toughest schedules, simply because neither of them will likely be favored to win any of their conference games.

RedStick1
RedStick1

It's hard to argue with your methodology Tony.  It's good to have you back.

PigIron
PigIron

Preseason SOS rankings should be taken with the same grain of salt that preseason position rankings receive.

I agree that we have to start somewhere, and that educated guesses certainly have value in determining preseason rankings. People will always complain about human opinion polls, but I am of the opinion that human CFB polls are more accurate than are computer generated rankings. I'm glad that we won't have a bunch of math nerds trying to tell us who plays the best football now that the BCS is in our rearview mirrors.

Dman
Dman

Florida should be the toughest having to go to Bama and Florida State.

griffinj2
griffinj2

I don't  really care as I am a Tech fan, but didn't you slight South Carolina by leaving out the Georgia game?

DawginCO
DawginCO

As it stand with the relatively meaningless preseason poll rankings, this is fairly close.  We will see how it actually pans out.  Injuries are the X factor.  If you did this in the B1G, a bunch of people's road schedule difficulty just took a hit because of the Braxton Miller injury.  The only thing that might save Oh-hoho is where they start off.  With that cushy soft schedule they will have a hard time dropping too far.  That is why preseason polls are meaningless.  The injury bug is the great equalizer.  You can't predict them or how whoever comes in to replace the 1st stringer will play.  Crapshoot. 



PaulinNH
PaulinNH

If you think LSU-Wisconsin in Houston - a 2 hr drive from the LA state line - is a road game for the Tigers, I have some ocean front property in Arizona you might be interested in.

And ask the UGA fans whether UF-UGA in Jax is a road game for the Gators.

UrbanMeyerisapansie
UrbanMeyerisapansie

cause tony barnhart sucks at his job.  all he does is sit around and eat cheese burgers all day, he should be called the Hamburgerler 

ARdawg
ARdawg

Doesn't seem to unusual for your Tony to gloss over some pertinent facts like, Georgia plays Auburn and Clemson and yes, both are ranked

Terry1961
Terry1961

@OH-IO, No, what you've lost is a Senior QB, What you have in JT Barrett is a noodle arm, with 4.7 speed, who has had surgery on his knee, but keep drinking that Kool-Aid.  LOL

CowbellHell
CowbellHell

@OH-IO Yeah because of your pitifully weak conference, go away silly little seed.  No one cares

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@PigIron Now you'll have as Chapelle said, Con-de-le-za-Rice.sounds like a mexican dish. 

PigIron
PigIron

@DawginCO  "The only thing that might save Oh-hoho is where they start off.  With that cushy soft schedule they will have a hard time dropping too far."


That is quite simply not true. The Ohio State will drop lock a rock in the polls if they lose games. This complaint about preseason polls predetermining the final rankings is a myth created by people whose bias leads them to believe that their favorite team has been slighted because they failed to live up to their fans' over-exuberant preseason expectations.

The only time that preseason seeding creates a problem for CFB polls is when three or more of the top teams finishes the regular season undefeated. In that case, one or more of the undefeated teams might receive an unfair benefit from having started the season with a higher ranking. With the four team playoff system in place, even this statistical anomaly will only affect the outcome of a season when there are five or more undefeated teams at season's end.

gtcaryd
gtcaryd

@DawginCO I remember M. Mauk, and the Robinette QB for Vandy coming in and taking care of business last year. It can happen.

GeorgeStein
GeorgeStein

@PaulinNH Seems odd that he include the LSU game vs Wisconsin but not the Ole Miss game vs Boise in Atlanta.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@PaulinNH 


The UGA/FLA game is played in JAX with a 50/50 split fan deal.....and is not played in Gainesville.  If you don't think playing a team in THE SWAMP is an advantage for Florida, then I also have some prime, partly used cartel land in Mexico to sell you. And Wisconsin travels very well. 

PigIron
PigIron

@PaulinNH  "If you think LSU-Wisconsin in Houston - a 2 hr drive from the LA state line - is a road game for the Tigers, I have some ocean front property in Arizona you might be interested in."

By that logic, playing Texas A&M in College Station is also a home game for LSU.

DawginCO
DawginCO

@PaulinNH  Tony is really reaching on calling a game on a neutral field a road game.  Of course with the Gators not even making the Top 25, we have no idea whether he would have added it as a road game for the Dawgs as well.

TampGator1
TampGator1

@UrbanMeyerisapansie 


I can assure you that Tony does not suck at his job.  Otherwise, he would not be doing it on so many different media levels.  But you are entitled to your opinion. 

TampGator1
TampGator1

@ARdawg 


Doesn't seem unusual that someone posts on here a response that reveals a low level of reading comprehension. ROAD GAMES.  ROAD GAMES.

Macon-Dawg
Macon-Dawg

@ARdawg With all due respect to a dawg, AR the topic of the article is "toughest road schedule".  Clemson and Auburn are "tween the hedges.

Buschleaguer
Buschleaguer

@ARdawg Road schedule ARdawg, Road Schedule the Dawgs play Clemson in Athens.Auburn in Athens also.

ARdawg
ARdawg

@gtcaryd @Gandolph Sokay Gandolph. I do understand. Beware of a certain Jorts fan though as he is very unforgiving

PaulinNH
PaulinNH

@PigIron 

Let me see - in one scenario LSU is playing in a neutral site, 2 hrs from the state line against a team from Madison, WI - a mere 1200 miles away.  Wonder who will suck up all the tickets for that one?

In the other LSU is playing in the opponent's stadium - full of &M students and season ticket holders.  Yep exactly alike.



TampGator1
TampGator1

@DawginCO 


He would have.  It is a road game for both teams, and Georgia has a ton of fans in the JAZ area, so Paulin's logic would work the same for Georgia as LSU.

ARdawg
ARdawg

@TampGator1 @ARdawg You seem to be quite slow on the uptake there Tampa. Did you get dropped on your head often as a child?

TampGator1
TampGator1

@ARdawg


It is a road game for both Georgia and Florida.  But yes, it is a road game for Florida.  They travel.  They stay in a motel in a city other than Gainesville. The stadium is not 95 percent of more Florida fans.  YES.....it is a road game. 

TampGator1
TampGator1

@ARdawg 


You are calling me "slow on the uptake" after your original post.  Very funny there, ARDawg.  But I did post my post to you before reading that you finally understood the point of the article after others informed you of that point, a point that everyone else seemed to understand from actually reading the article first. 

ARdawg
ARdawg

@TampGator1 @ARdawg I understand and seeing how my acknowledgement of my mistake was about the 4-5th post on the thread and yesterday, I will commend you for getting better. Keep at it there guy. You'll exceed that 50 IQ level in no time at all

TampGator1
TampGator1

@ARdawg 


"But what the preseason polls can do is give us a place to start the conversation, knowing fully that where we start and where we end up could likely be the difference between night and day."........SECOND PARAGRAPH.


Again, read the article before posting to make yourself look....well....you know. 


And.....at least my 50 IQ level seems a bit higher than yours today. 

ARdawg
ARdawg

@KeepOnSmilingWetWillie @ARdawg @gtcaryd 

However, Tony's system can't be measured until the end of the year when the true top 10 and 25 is established and who had the toughest road schedule could be determined. Such predictions are as weak as a pre-season poll

ARdawg
ARdawg

@TampGator1 @ARdawg Well little Miss, there is no conversation to be started on a meaningless poll. As I pointed out earlier but, you still haven't caught up to that. It's okay, I understand. You're a lil'bit spechul

TampGator1
TampGator1

@ARdawg 


Again, very funny, or LOL, whichever you prefer or comprehend.  

TampGator1
TampGator1

@ARdawg 


Well...call the AJC and have the article retracted, then.  I personally found the article worthwhile reading based on a preseason poll.  But, as Tony AGAIN wrote, polls have little meaning this year.....but it is worth taking a "pre" look at the most challenging SEC schedules based on road games.  And I am not sure it gets any more challenging than playing preseason #2 Bama and preseason #1 FSU for Florida.......both on the road. And preseason #12.....Georgia on a natural field (which is always considered a road game).

ARdawg
ARdawg

@TampGator1 @ARdawg A "pre-look", that's very humorous of you Tampa. Enjoy all of the meaningless discussion you wish. After all a "man" of your particular intellect must know his boundaries