clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Kentucky faces 15th toughest schedule in 2014

Year in and year out, Kentucky has one of the toughest schedules in the country. One reason is because the Wildcats play in the SEC, but another reason is because we've usually fielded poor teams . Will this year be any different?

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

I don't visit Phil Steel's website very often because his home page if full of so much junk advertising, it becomes a chore to find what you're looking for.  I guess if you're willing to pay for his information, it might be easier to navigate. However, I am not willing to pay anyone for information.  Never have, never will. The reason?  Any and all Information eventually becomes free, unless you're dealing with local, state and federal governments, but even they have transparency laws or sunshine laws. If you want information bad enough, you can always go through the legal system.  Finding information about this season's toughest schedule doesn't require any legal action, but it does require a little patience and it is finally out there for all to see.

There's a nice little website on the "interweb" (a term created by Richard Rawlings, owner of the Gas Monkey Garage on the TV show called Fast and Loud on the Discovery Channel) called that fills the vacuum.  It turns out that Kentucky has the 15th toughest schedule (5th in the SEC), according to Steele. The critical thinking side of my personality tells me he really doesn't know, but I'll accept his analysis because I don't want to get into thoughts on why math guys have the ability to massage numbers to say anything they want. What Steele and others do is for entertainment purposes, so I'm willing to accept it at face value.

I digress, so let's get back to Steele's rankings and take a look at our 2014 opponents from the Power 5 conferences. Florida is our first conference and first Power 5 opponent.  Their SOS ranks 32nd.  Vanderbilt is next  at 59th , South Carolina comes in at 30th , ULM 110th, LSU 33rd, Mississippi State 56th , Missouri 31st , Georgia 35th , Tennessee 2nd , and Lousiville 68th.

Wait a minute!

Louisville has the 68th strongest schedule? Really? Didn't they just join the Atlantic Coast Conference and automatically acquire a much tougher schedule?  What the heck? Let's check their schedule.

They open with Miami, followed by Murray St., Virginia (away), Florida International (away), Wake Forest, Syracuse (away), Clemson (away), NC State, Florida St., Boston College (away), Notre Dame (away), and Kentucky. I don't know how Phil Steele calculates the toughness of a schedule, but on the surface, it looks like a decent schedule, especially when you consider the Cards play at Clemson, Florida State and at Notre Dame. So what's pulling Louisville into the a schedule that ranks in the sixties? As any good Louisville fan will point out, Kentucky has to be dragging them down. Not so fast, my red-feathered fans. If that were the case, then Tennessee's (2nd toughest) schedule would be as weak as yours.

According to this article at FB Schedules, this is how he does it.

How does Steele arrive at his preseason toughest schedule ratings? Steele combines his "9 sets of Power Ratings" with the amount of home and away games. This differs from the NCAA method which is strictly based on the opponent winning percentage from the previous year.

I don't make any claim to a full understanding of Steele's methods, but I do understand the NCAA method because I firmly believe in the Kiss (Keep it simple, stupid) method. So, I'm going to compare Kentucky's and Louisville's schedules based on the NCAA method.

Under the NCAA method Kentucky has the 6th toughest schedule, but Louisville's toughness drops to #80. How does this happen? Again, look at the 2014 schedules.

Excluding Tenn-Martin for Kentucky and Murray St. for Louisville, the combined 2013 season won-loss records for the 2014 season opponents is 67-60 for Louisville and 91-50 for Kentucky.  In spite of the fact that Florida St. went 14-0 last year, Louisville opponents for 2014 had a combined winning percentage of 52.8%. Kentucky's 2014 opponents had a combined winning percentage of 64.5% in 2013.

If you drop Kentucky from Louisville's schedule and Louisville from Kentucky's schedule, Louisville's opponents won 56.5% of their games and Kentucky's opponents won 61.7% of their games in the 2013 season. If you're interested in last year's Top 10 SOS, check this out from

NCAA Final SOS Standings: (Note: you'll have to click on "Miscellaneous Reports") Kentucky 28th;  Louisville 107th. See, there is improvement this year for the Cards.

Anderson Sports: Kentucky 97th;  Louisville 106th

Sagarin: Kentucky 14th; Louisville 103rd

So, if you have any friends who are Louisville fans and they want to tell you how tough their schedule is this year, I've given you ammunition for a good discussion if you can control your laughter.