To say national champion LSU was battle-tested heading into the College Football Playoff is the understatement of the 2019 season.
The Tigers had beaten five teams ranked inside the AP Top 10 prior to their dismantling of Oklahoma in the Peach Bowl semifinal, setting up a heavyweight bout vs. an opponent that entered the title game on the nation’s longest winning streak at 29 games.
Another throttling followed, leaving Ed Orgeron’s team with a lasting mark on one of the most impressive campaigns in history.
“I think that this team is going to be mentioned as one of the greatest teams in college football history, 15-0, one of the greatest teams in LSU history, led by some of the greatest players,” Orgeron said.” Give them all the credit. But you know, that’s for you guys to decide. We’re national champs. We’re 15-0. Whether we’re mentioned as one of the greatest teams or not, that doesn’t matter to me.
Schedule strength meant everything for the Tigers, who leaped Ohio State in the eyes of the selection committee in November and never looked back with a star-studded resume. But while opponent toughness strengthens some teams, it detonates others.
Using our preseason way-too-early Top 25 as a guide, we ranked college football’s toughest schedules for the upcoming 2020 season based on opponent quality, when the game occurs, likelihood it affects team success — reasoning behind South Carolina facing one of nation’s toughest in 2019 — and circumstances surrounding the matchups (opponent coming off an open week; tough back to back, etc.).
All of that is also attached to a schedule strength rating (5 points for a preseason Top 5 opponent, 4 for Nos. 6-10, etc.), a numeral grade that is factored into a subjective placement in the overall schedule toughness rankings.
Here’s a way-too-early look at the 10 most challenging slates next fall: