What a Difference a Schedule Makes

First, I agree with you. A tough schedule is no excuse for last year’s debacle. However, when you have as many things working against you as the Irish did last year, it magnifies the problems you do have, creates new ones and can make them exponentially harder to fix. How much difference does a schedule make? The following was posted by wsund on Cartier Field.

Most of you probably know that Notre Dame faced 10 bowl teams on it’s schedule last year, more than any other BCS team in the country. What you may not know is just how much more difficult this made their schedule.

When you have a non-bowl team on your schedule, the game is generally a “gimme”. Notre Dame, as bad as they were, went 2-0 in their “gimme” games last year. How did the rest of the BCS teams do? They combined to go 285-70 in these games, a winning percentage of .803.

Here’s how many of these games each BCS team played (with the percentage of these teams who made a bowl in parentheses):

Teams with 8 non-bowl games: 1 (100%)
Teams with 7 non-bowl games: 6 (100%)
Teams with 6 non-bowl games: 25 (84%)
Teams with 5 non-bowl games: 19 (58%)
Teams with 4 non-bowl games: 12 (42%)
Teams with 3 non-bowl games: 2 (0%)
Teams with 2 non-bowl games: 1 (0%)

The average BCS team played almost 5 “gimme” games, and 64 of the other 66 teams played at least twice as many of these games as Notre Dame. ND’s schedule was by far tougher than most other teams last year on this basis alone. This stat can also be linked to the odds that a team will make a bowl game.

Here’s another statistic from last year. Here are the average number of wins teams in each category achieved:

Teams with 8 non-bowl games: 12 wins
Teams with 7 non-bowl games: 9 wins
Teams with 6 non-bowl games: 7.97 wins
Teams with 5 non-bowl games: 7.47 wins
Teams with 4 non-bowl games: 5.66 wins
Teams with 3 non-bowl games: 4 wins
Teams with 2 non-bowl games: 3 wins

Again, the number of these games appears to have a direct correlation to a team’s success. It also shows that teams won about, on average, 2 games against bowl opponents (ND won 1).

So how does this affect ND in 2008? Well, the fact that the schedule should be much easier should guarantee ND a few more wins, and that’s not taking into account their improvement on the field.

Phil Steele projects 7 of ND’s opponents to play in bowls, compared to the 10 they faced in 2007. Of these 7, only USC does he project to play in an elite bowl. Pitt, Navy, MSU, and BC are projected to be in lower tier bowls.

ESPN projects 8 of ND’s opponents to be in bowls. But again, he has Purdue in the Insight Bowl, Navy in the Congressional Bowl, Pitt facing UNC in the Car Care Bowl, BC in the Emerald Bowl, and Michigan in the Champs Sports Bowl (all slots lower than where ND is projected).

Let’s face it, Notre Dame was a bad football team last year. We hope they will improve on the field this year. However, the schedule offered them no favors last year, and it alone should guarantee the Irish a few more wins in 2008.


15 Responses to “What a Difference a Schedule Makes”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Intersting statistics. I’m happy you reiterated how our terrible performance last year was zero excuse.

    With the talent ND ALWAYS has the capability of getting (just for being Notre Dame)….we should never have a 3 win season. Even if we play 12 Bowl teams

  2. borromini Says:

    That’s just it…between the 2003 to 2005 recruiting seasons, ND hasn’t been getting the talent that it’s always enjoyed in the past.

  3. Wolf '02 Says:

    My point being….Even under the most brutal recruiting circumstances, ND should never end up with a 3 win season. Especially under a great coach like CW.

    Not to mention many of the losses were lashings.

    However, not trying to dwell on the past as the last 2 recruiting classes should yield immediate success

  4. Mike Says:

    What I’d like to see from the stat mongers is historically how teams fared against top 10 and top 20 opponents. This would be based on the final polls in January, not at the time of the game (how much credit do you really want to give Schembechler for beating a #1 Faust team in week two of 1981)?

    I had started doing this years ago for the 80s but tracking the bowl games was the road block. One of the interesting revelations was that I think we beat as many consensus top 20 teams as Miami (Florida had a top 10 finish one year but was on probation and thus not in the coaches poll so that cost Miami in this scenario).

    Results would reveal what percentage of overall wins were against top 10 and top 20 teams, among other things.

  5. Anonymous Says:

    It is surprising to see commentary about a balanced schedule on the ND Nation website. Where is the crazy analysis about Tier 1, Tier 2 and Tier 3 games?

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Those are statistics that seem to speak directly against those who believe we should be stacking the schedule with the Alabama, Miami Texas, OU and the LSUs of the world every single weekend. Clearly, nobody does that – and we’re facing a steeper climb than most teams in America as is. I think this year’s schedule is typically acceptable with 2-3 teams who are perennial top 10-15 programs. Yes, some years they will be down. But that’s college football. It’s not as if we’re playing a MAC schedule any time soon. Teams like Pitt, BC and MSU or Purdue are usually worthy, bowl caliber opponents. There’s nothing wrong with playing a SDSU, on occasion, either – as long as we don’t bring in the 1AA’s. I’ll never complain about playing a Washington State or an ASU, neutral site or not. Mixing it up with respectable programs is a good move. Throwing in a top flight team like Texas, Oklahoma or the like every 5 years or so is great. But balance is the key.
    Nice article.

  7. Anonymous Says:

    If you want to run stats like you mention, they are very easy at this cite (not mine, BTW, but the most accurate I know, better than cfbdw, for instance): http://www.sportslinknetwork.com/cfbtrivia/sln_default.asp

    go to team record, leave it "all," and fill in the competition blocks as you desire (check yes "year rank" then enter the parameters for the ranking), check no regarding bowl games.

    Here's your result for winning percentage against top 10 AP/UPI(coaches) since 1980:


    ND is #10. I'm sorry to say, Michigan is #4.

  8. Anonymous Says:

    Weren’t there 10 teams playing in a BCS bowl game last year?

    How many bowl attendees did those 10 teams face?

  9. Anonymous Says:

    More specifically, what was the bowl game attendee distribution for the 10 BCS bowl game attendees?

    I see the average is 5 gimmee’s, but I was wondering exactly how easy each of the 10 BCS attendees had it. Which of the 10 had it the easiest etc etc?

  10. Anonymous Says:

    Georgia played 7 teams (6-1)
    Hawaii:3 (3-0)
    West Virginia: 7 (6-1)
    Oklahoma: 8 (6-2)
    USC: 5 (4-1)
    Illinois: 8 (5-3)
    Kansas: 4 (3-1)
    Virginia Tech: 8 (6-2)
    Ohio State: 6 (5-1)
    LSU: 8 (6-2)

  11. Anonymous Says:

    Interesting stats…. but i wonder how many of the 10 bowl teams on our schedule would have been bowl teams if we beat them?

    The schedule always seems tougher when we’re bad… but always seems easy when we win.

  12. Anonymous Says:

    It would not matter how many decent teams we played last year. For what ever reason that we seem to forget is that last years team lacked Leadership and it appeared to have QUIT in a few games. The USC and The Air Force Game's come to mind. BOTH GAMES IN NOTRE DAME STADIUM. It happened to Coach Weis and he admitted it.
    But it also has also happened to great Irish Coaches in the past. I was at the Notre Dame USC Game in 1974 when the Irish played their guts out to be ahead 24-6 at half time in LA only to give up on the field and give up 48 points in the second half and not score another one themselves in losing 23-55.
    The big aspect that differs that horrible QUIT from that Notre Dame team (Who was defending National Champions) was it was an away game against a powerful USC team and because Ara never quit and some how made his team respond in the Orange Bowl after being huge underdogs to whip then Number 1 Alabama 13 – 11 costing Bear Bryant and The Crimson Tide a National Championship for the second year in a row. And it allowed USC by beating Big 10 Champ Ohio State in the Rose Bowl 18- 17 to share the National Championship with Probation Bound Oklahoma.

    BUT ARA's IRISH Team lost big time by quitting in the second half but his Coaches and those 74 kids came back after that blow out to USC to whip Bear Bryant for the second year in a row.

    The one Back from AIR FORCE ran on Notre Dame all day last year for a career day in our STADIUM. Mark Sanchez threw FOUR TOUCHDOWNS on Notre Dame. You could day it all started in the previous years SUGAR BOWL. When the Irish did not show up in the second half.

    The losses are what sucked last year, but even more WAS THE QUITIING. The 2008 NOTRE DAME SEASON is Coach Weis great chance to show his Irish will never quit in a game,ever again no matter what the score is. ALSO HORRIBLE POP WARNER MIGHTY MITE(7 to 8 year old) BLOCKING EFFORTS (TALKING ABOUT QUITTING EN MASSE)
    BY THE OFFENSIVE LINE IN 07 must be first addressed no matter who we play.

    COACH WEIS CAN AND WILL MAKE IT HAPPEN THIS YEAR> JUST WATCH. I KNOW the lack of urgency and intensity from the team bothered him more than anyone. Also he was involved in a really poorly advised Law Suit for Medical Mal Practice that had to take his mind off of Coaching. It did and it showed it did last year.

    Coach Weis has a new Athetic Director in Jack Swarbrick who is going to keep his feet to the fire and not allow any more QUITTING by any of the players.

    The Notre Dame faithful at the games will not tolerate it either.
    That seemed to me the biggest bitch at Home Games last year. The QUITTING. No matter who we played.

    Coach Tenuta won't allow it and it will show in our first game.

    Just watch the differnce in INTENSITY from 2008 Home Opener San Diego State and 2007 Georgia Tech and the 2007 Michigan and 2008 Mighigan Game.

    That will tale the tale of how 2008 will go for the Irish. The Intensity of the Irish players and the not Quit that has already been starting to be instilled from Spring Ball.


  13. Anonymous Says:


    We don’t need to schedule 10 BCS bound teams each year, but if we go the tOSU route, we’ll get embarassed by an SEC team in the title game.

  14. Anonymous Says:

    we already got embarrassed in a bcs game by a SEC team…

  15. Anonymous Says:

    six wins if we are very lucky

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