On the 2024 Alabama Crimson Tide, making the Playoff and measuring strength of schedule

Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

A bold guess is that close to 100 FBS programs believe they will be Playoff worthy next season. Only 12 will be deemed as such and Alabama Crimson Tide fans are confident Kalen DeBoer's first Tide team will be one of them.

Bold visions aside it would be good to understand how the Selection Committee will choose teams. What is known is the top four conference champion seeds will get a bye. Teams No. 5 through No. 8 will play first-round games in their home stadiums. Just in case, Bryant-Denny is getting a new turf system, designed to make it into December in good shape.

What is not known are the specifics as to how the committee will rank teams with similar records. It is presumed that beyond conference championships, calculations will include strength of schedule, common opponents, and when possible, head-to-head results.

How Strength of Schedule (SOS) will be calculated is the biggest unknown. Conferences don't have balanced schedules and there is a wide range in the quality of opponents in non-conference games. The Selection Committee has been accused of vagueness in the past. As a result, a murky team selection process can be anticipated.

In March a sensible approach was suggested by Jon Joseph. Joseph contends the Selection Committee needs to use a published metric, as the NCAA does in ranking basketball teams. Not all fans love the NCAA NET all the time, but it is a worthwhile tool. Best about the NET is that it awards teams that play tough schedules and calculates a difference between home and away, wins and losses. College football could use a similar tool.

Projecting SOS for 2024 SEC teams

Schedules are set. Rosters are not. It will be months before any worthwhile SOS can be calculated. For offseason discussion, we can look at the 16 SEC team's 2024 opponents, their combined 2023 records, and each SEC team's projected, most difficult 2024 out-of-conference game.

Ranking based on Opponent 2023 records

  • Florida Gators 2024 opponents, in the 2023 season were 102-44
  • Vanderbilt Commodores; 100-46
  • Oklahoma Sooners; 92-54
  • Alabama Crimson Tide; 91-55
  • Mississippi State Bulldogs; 88-58
  • Georgia Bulldogs; 86-59
  • South Carolina Gamecocks; 85-59
  • Arkansas Razorbacks; 85-60
  • Kentucky Wildcats; 84-62
  • Texas A&M Aggies; 83-63
  • LSU Bengal Tigers; 81-63
  • Auburn Tigers; 81-64
  • Ole Miss Rebels; 81-65
  • Texas Longhorns; 80-66
  • Tennessee Vols; 78-69
  • Missouri Tigers; 63-81

Using a 2024 'too-early' ranking of all the FBS teams, provided by College Football News, the SEC teams can be compared by the highest projected ranking of out-of-conference opponents.

Texas has the toughest out-of-conference contest, away to No. 7 ranked Michigan. Texas A&M is next with a home game against No. 11 ranked Notre Dame. Tied at, third-toughest opponents are Georgia and South Carolina, with the opponent being No. 15 Clemson. LSU gets No. 16 ranked USC at a neutral site. Arkansas is away to No. 21 Oklahoma State; Tennessee has No. 25 North Carolina State; Florida has No. 24 Miami in Gainesville and Kentucky finishes with No. 29 Louisville.

Alabama Football is next, away to No. 30 Wisconsin, followed by Vanderbilt at home against No. 39 Virginia Tech.

Leading the five 'not-so-tough' contingent is Auburn against No. 48 Cal; Mississippi State against No. 55 Arizona State; Missouri against No. 58 Boston College; Ole Miss against No. 65 Wake Forest and Oklahoma against No. 75 Tulane.