As college football talking season approaches its unofficial kickoff at next week’s SEC Media Days, all-conference teams and the predicted order of finish will be the most debated rhetoric among the sport’s preeminent analysts. Once it wears on for a while, we’ll hit on the tertiary aspects, like strength of schedule. Almost any way you cut it, Kentucky has it made in 2021.
You can break down strength of schedule in a multitude of ways, as Freddie Maggard did yesterday. Some have already called Kentucky’s non-conference schedule the weakest in the Power Five. Rather than taking a subjective approach, Phil Steele uses the numbers to weight college football schedules. By simply breaking down the 2020 records of UK’s 2021 opponents, only two FBS programs have a weaker schedule than Kentucky.
The Wildcats’ 2021 opponents went 43-66 in 2020, good for just a 39.4 winning percentage. It ranks 128th, only ahead of Northwestern and Coastal Carolina.
That simple equation does not always paint an accurate picture. Kentucky will face three bowl teams and two ranked teams from last year. According to Phil’s formula, the Wildcats have one of the most underrated schedules in college football. Even though it may be underrated, this schedule is significantly easier than the All-SEC slate from 2021, dropping 75 spots in Steele’s strength of schedule ranks, the second-greatest drop in all of college football, trailing only Houston.
Allow me to cut through the numbers. Kentucky’s 2021 opponents are not as bad as you think, but the schedule is much easier than in 2020, paving the way for the Wildcats to win more football games this fall.