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Jon Joseph

2024 College Football - A 'Back of the Envelope' Contenders Strength of Scheule Ranking

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Bet MGM has early odds up on 18 teams in the running to win the 2024 College Football Playoff. The odds have been adjusted for coaching and roster changes at Alabama, Michigan and Washington. Below are the 5 B1G teams with odds in the top 18 (The B1G Favored 5.). For reference purposes, Georgia +350 is No. 1.


No. 2 - Ohio State - +500


No. 5 - OREGON - +1000


No. 7 - Michigan - +1400 (up from +900)


No. 11 - Penn State - +2500


No. 14 - USC - +3500


Before looking at the above teams' respective Strength of Schedule (SOS), the following are the 247 Sports Combined Roster National Rankings for the five teams and the ESPN+ 2024 Returning Roster Production Rankings of 134 teams. The Combined Roster Rankings will be adjusted after the 2nd portal go-round. Returning Production rankings uses playing time and 2023 production, and not just the number of returning players. The Big 10 Network uses the 247 Sports rankings for recruiting, the portal, and the combined roster rankings.


National Rankings - 


Roster - OREGON - No. 3 /  Returning Production - 28


Roster - Ohio State - No. 5 / Returning Production - 70


Roster - Penn State - No. 15 / Returning Production - 23


Roster - Michigan - No. 16 / Returning Production - 128


Roster - USC - No. 17 / Returning Production - 99


In 2024, OBD is in a great position in terms of both the roster ranking and returning production. USC and Michigan have a lot of replacing to do. For reference purposes, our buddies in Seattle come in last in the B1G's returning production ranking, No. 130. 


Comparative Strength of Schedule Rankings. Caveat, the following is far more art than science. SOS is calculated using the 2023 records of the opponents that appear on a respective team's schedule in 2024. During the season, SOS will change week-to-week. As will the Strength of Record rankings. Deviations in total games played are the result of the number of 2023 Playoff and Bowl teams on a team's 2024 schedule. Michigan and Washington played 15 games in 2023. Oregon played 14 games. Most bowl teams played 13 games.


The following is the combined win/loss record for the opponents the B1G Favored Five will face in 2024, listed by degree of difficulty. In 2024, Michigan and Ohio State both play 8 home games. Oregon, Penn State, and USC play seven 7 home games. 


USC - 106 - 53. This happens when you play both teams that played for the 2023 championship (both on the road) and two out-of-conference games versus a 10-3 LSU, a 10-3 Notre Dame, and a respectable G5 opponent in 6-7 Utah State. ESPN's SP+ 2024 SOS rankings have USC ranked No. 2, only behind No. 1 Florida. 


OREGON - 101- 57. OBD joins SC as the only two of the B1G Favored Five that will play teams in 2024 that won 100 games or more in 2023. The Ducks also join the Trojans playing both Michigan and Washington. However, the Ducks draw the B1G Boys Daily Double, Michigan and Ohio State. USC does not play Ohio State in the regular season. The Ducks 2024 schedule is ranked the 13th most difficult in the nation by SP+'s early ranking of 2024's 15 most difficult schedules.


MICHIGAN - 98 - 59. The rematch in Seattle in 2024, playing Playoff team Texas out-of-conference, and 2023 NY6 Bowl opponents, Oregon and Ohio State is not an easy ask. The win total is increased by also playing 9-4 Fresno State and 6-7 Arkansas State out-of-conference. New head coach Moore has to replace a lot of production on both sides of the ball. Michigan does play both SC and Oregon in Ann Arbor. 


PENN STATE - 88 - 67. The Nittany Lions are likely the B1G's happiest campers over divisions going away. PSU plays Ohio State in Happy Valley and misses, for the first time since 2013, nemesis Michigan. If there had been a 12-team playoff going back to BCS in 1998, Penn State would have been 2nd in the number of appearances. The schedule sets up for a run at the 1st 12-team Playoff field. Here's one scheduling quirk. PSU plays UCLA at home and trips to USC the following Saturday.


OHIO STATE - 83 - 71. This, my OBD friends is why the Buckeyes 2024 schedule is referred to as 'OPPS.' The Ohio State Playoff Protection Schedule. In 2025, Ohio State will open the season against Texas. In 2024, the Buckeyes play three G5 teams out-of-conference with a 2023 combined record of 12 and 25. All home games. Ohio State plays two tough road games, Oregon and Penn State. Ohio State plays Michigan in Columbus and plays against 6 teams that went bowling in 2023, with 4 of the 6 games vs 2023 bowl teams being played in The Shoe. Oregon plays 9 teams that played in bowl games in 2023. Five of the 9 games will be played away from Autzen. 


Unlike NFL scheduling designed to result in parity, college football schedules vary widely in strength-of-schedule difficulty. Teams contending for a CFB Playoff berth do not play the same number of regular season games. Last season, Oregon should have played a battle-tested 10-2 AAC champ SMU in the Fiesta Bowl and not 13-0 CUSA champ Liberty. It will be very interesting to see with the Playoff expanding to 12 teams if the Playoff Committee will take strength-of-schedule into consideration and not simply wins and losses. Michigan in 2023 and 2024 made the 4-team field playing three G5 opponents out-of-conference with all six games played in Ann Arbor. This 'stuff' needs to stop. 


Ohio State does pay a visit to Eugene in 2024 but based on the B1G Favored 5 2024 schedules, Ohio State definitely has the Pole Position.


GO DUCKS! Vandalize the Vandals!





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SEC Win totals are out via Fan Duel.


How about 2024 champ favorite Georgia? Away - Playoff teams Alabama and Texas. NY6 Peach Bowl winner Ole Miss. The Rebels beat down and beat up Penn State in this game.


Home - Auburn, Tennessee, and Georgia Tech.


Plus, Clemson in Atlanta and Florida in JAX. 



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