Buckeye Battle Cry Roundtable: How much does strength of schedule matter?

Every now and then we like to get the debate going here on Buckeyes Wire. We have a little roundtable segment we like to call our “Buckeye Battle Cry.” We throw out a hot-button topic and each of the three writers takes turns debating an answer.

There are varying perspectives for a trio that doesn’t agree very often, and sometimes the virtual mud flies. Other times (and rarely at that), there are rainbows, butterflies, and agreement among the group.

This time we’re going to hit on strength of schedule. It’s a rallying cry for fans that think they’ve had a better one to stack up against other highly ranked teams, but what does it all really mean — or should mean — when it comes to ranking teams in the upcoming College Football Playoff?

So the question this week: How much does strength of schedule matter with what we’ve seen from Ohio State so far when comparing it against other top teams?

Josh gets us started on the right track (we hope) with this one …

Josh Keatley, Featured Writer

Follow: @JoshKeatley16

Ohio State’s schedule is awful. This weekend will be their second away game and it’s almost November. This is not only concerning coming from someone who would like to see this squad battle-tested, but it is also a bit of a black eye perception-wise and hopefully won’t cost them at the end of the season.

We also have the issue that not only has Ohio State only left home once, but the competition has also been terrible. Now, this part isn’t the fault of Ohio State as, at the time of scheduling Notre Dame, they were a perennial top-ten team, but times have changed. Ohio State has only played three teams with a winning record with Notre Dame, Toledo and Rutgers barely qualifying. Rutgers is trash, but Toledo looks to be a borderline top-tier group of five school and I desperately want to say Notre Dame is tough, but I have no evidence to back that claim up.

In my opinion, this Ohio State team is the best team in the country and I feel confident they will be competing for a national championship, but this schedule is alarming. We will learn a ton about Ohio State this weekend in Happy Valley and my hope is that they walk out winners by a large margin to prove that they can handle the pressure on the road against a strong opponent.

Mark Russell, Featured Writer

Follow: @MarkRussell1975

Does strength of schedule matter? Yes. But I don’t think it’s nearly as important as the national pundits would have you believe.

The Big Ten is a top-heavy conference, we know this. Ohio State has carried the mantle in recent history with a revolving door of sidekicks in Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and Wisconsin. With schedules set years in advance, a team can only play the schedule that is given to them.

We see it each year. The SEC gets teams bumped up from the mystique of playing in the SEC. Florida beat Utah in week one and jumped all the way up to No. 13. Did anyone really believe that Ole Miss and Kentucky were top-10 teams? If you did, you’re buying the narrative big TV contracts want to sell you. Outside of Georgia, Tennessee, and Alabama, the mighty SEC is composed of mediocre college football teams whose reputation is based on name alone.

If the Buckeyes were squeaking by some of these lower-tier opponents, maybe the SOS matters, but at this point, Ohio State is doing exactly what it’s supposed to be doing… winning in dominating fashion. Let the schedule play out. Tests at Penn State, at Maryland, and at home against TTUN will ultimately reveal what kind of team we have in Columbus.

Phil Harrison, Publisher/Editor and Featured Writer

Follow: @PhilHarrisonBW

Yeah, strength of schedule matters, but it really only comes into play when it comes time to split hairs with the College Football Playoff rankings, which, could be a big deal.

End of story, if Ohio State goes undefeated, or if it loses just one game and is Big Ten champion, there’s going to be an excellent chance of getting into all the fun. But, in a year where there are more than four undefeated conference champions or several one-loss teams that could result in even more scrutiny from the College Football Playoff committee that — if we’re being honest — has been very inconsistent with ranking principles.

However, as Mark points out, it’s not always who you play, but how you play against those teams. OSU has been more than blowing some of the lesser opponents out, so you would have to think that “game control” comes into play here. That or the Buckeyes could just join the SEC, lose close to Alabama, and get the benefit of the doubt.

Now, when the playoff expands, this kind of goes out the window. There will be a much easier and well-understood path to getting into the CFP.

It can’t come soon enough.

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Story originally appeared on Buckeye Wire