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Beyond the Box Score with Brian Fremeau: Schedule Strength

Dec 30, 2013, 1:22 PM EDT

“Beyond The Box Score With Brian Fremeau” is a series that takes you inside the stats with in-depth analysis through numbers and graphics. Fremeau, a 1999 graduate of Notre Dame, is a longtime writer for ESPN Insider, Football Outsiders and his personal stats, graphics, and analysis website,

Last week, the Notre Dame athletic department and director of athletics Jack Swarbrick announced the Irish football schedule for the next three seasons. Swarbrick discussed the long-awaited release in an interview with Fighting Irish Digital Media, outlining the philosophical approach to filling out these and future schedules with traditional rivals and new opponents the Irish haven’t regularly faced off against. A new playoff format will be introduced next season in college football, and the selection committee is expected to reward teams with strong schedules. The Irish have always played a challenging slate, and the 2014-2016 schedules may raise that bar.

source:  Notre Dame has a 35-13 regular season record under Kelly, the 15th-best winning percentage against FBS opponents in the nation in that span. Those 15 teams are included in the chart above and the table below. Since 2010, no top team has more consistently played games against above-average opponents than the Irish.

Team FBS Regular Season Winning Percentage Pct of FBS Games vs Opponents with
7+ FBS Wins
Pct of FBS Wins vs Opponents with
7+ FBS Wins
Oregon Ducks .886 .318 .256
Stanford Cardinal .872 .383 .341
Alabama Crimson Tide .864 .364 .263
Northern Illinois Huskies .864 .182 .184
Ohio State Buckeyes .851 .383 .325
LSU Tigers .841 .432 .351
Boise State Broncos .830 .383 .282
Oklahoma Sooners .809 .404 .289
Florida State Seminoles .795 .227 .114
South Carolina Gamecocks .795 .432 .371
Oklahoma State Cowboys .783 .435 .389
Michigan State Spartans .778 .378 .257
Nebraska Cornhuskers .750 .432 .303
Wisconsin Badgers .750 .386 .242
Notre Dame Fighting Irish .729 .479 .371

Notre Dame is the only team on this list that has not played an FCS opponent in the last four seasons. Against opponents that have won at least seven FBS games, Notre Dame has played more games (23) than any other team ranked among the top-30 in winning percentage. Notre Dame is tied with Stanford and Ohio State with the most wins (10) in the last two seasons against opponents with seven or more FBS victories.

The gauntlet may be even more challenging next fall. Seven of Notre Dame’s opponents next season won at least seven games against FBS opponents in 2013. Six of them won at least nine FBS regular season games this year.

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