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Tuesday August 6, 2013Gators face nation's most difficult schedule according to Phil Steele's rankings

Updated: 1:30pm, August 6

The Swamp

The Gators face the nation's most difficult schedule in 2013 according to Phil Steele.

GAINESVILLE, Fla. – Playing a difficult schedule is nothing new for the Gators. That’s just a fact of life in the SEC.

Still, some years are more difficult than others. A year ago, based on the NCAA’s method of using opponents’ win/loss records, Florida finished the season with the nation’s toughest schedule.

According to college football analyst Phil Steele, that ranking won’t change in 2013.

Known for his number crunching and in-depth NCAA preview magazines, Steele’s formula includes his “9 sets of Power Ratings” and the amount of home and away games.

I’m going to use Steele’s own words to explain his “nine sets of Power Ratings” methodology:

“If you are a follower of my magazine, I am sure you are familiar with the fact that I have nine different sets of power ratings that I create each preseason to give me nine different ways of analyzing a team. One is based on the individual talent level and performance of each position on each team and those are added up for the rating. Another is based on my Power Plays numbers, which include rushing and passing offenses, defenses and special teams. Another is a continually updated power rating based on the score of the games and the strength of opponent. Finally a few years back, before computers became part of the BCS rankings system, there was without a doubt some flaws in the polls. Teams rated #2 or #3 in the country really were not that talented and were maybe the fifth- or sixth-best. One Internet site decided to produce a poll of some of the top analysts and experts each week and invited me to join. I myself work 365 days a year. During magazine time (March, April, May) and throughout the football season (August through January) there are many 15-18 hour days put in and all of them are spent solely working on football. When they invited me to join the poll, I wanted to give them the best set of power ratings in the country to help make the poll as accurate as possible. The dilemma I had was which set? What I decided to do was combine all eight into one rating which gives me a very solid overall ranking for each team. The rating takes into account EVERY factor, using it as my main set of power ratings, which thus created my ninth set.”

As you can see, Steele takes rankings seriously and while measuring strength of schedule is not an exact science and certainly includes some level of subjective analysis, Steele’s system takes into several factors that others do not.

Once he calculated the rankings entering the 2013 season, the Gators finished on top.

Florida opens the season at home against Toledo, and then visits Miami for the first time in a decade. The Gators travel to LSU and South Carolina this season, they face Georgia in Jacksonville, and they host Tennessee, Arkansas and Florida State. Florida also has road games at Kentucky and Missouri and home games against Vanderbilt and Georgia Southern.

To check out Steele’s complete rankings, click on this link.

Here are Steele’s 10 toughest schedules in 2013: 1. Florida, 2. Oklahoma, 3. California, 4. Purdue, 5. Arkansas, 6. Iowa State, 7. Colorado, 8. Stanford, 9. Kentucky and 10. Kansas.

The Gators are one of three SEC teams in the top 10, joining Arkansas and Kentucky.

For more on Steele’s rankings, check out this blog from FBSchedules.com.

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