This is an exciting year for college football. This is the first year since 1981 that Clemson is ranked #1. But what has the schedule looked like to get there, and how does it compare to other elite teams?

Below is an interactive visualization of the network of FBS teams so far. Each circle represents a team, where colors represent the conference, and the large circles are the top 25 ranked teams. Independent teams are colored with gray.

Teams that are drawn near each other tend to have similar schedules, whereas teams far apart have much different schedules.

The lines represent a game played between two teams. The shorter the line the more normal the game fits within a schedule; most games within the same conference will have short lines, such as Stanford playing UCLA, whereas a very long line is when Stanford played UCF. As you move your mouse over each team, the teams played will emerge. Try it out!

Graph Facts

  • Some top 25 teams have not yet played any ranked opponents. Ohio State seems to often face this critique and this year is no exception.
  • LSU is the only ranked team in the country to have played every ranked team within their conference so far.
  • Few teams compete against ranked teams outside their own conference. However, the independent Notre Dame and BYU both scheduled top opponents across different conferences.
  • Wisconsin’s schedule so far tells us the most about relative team ranks by looking at the opponents played and how those opponents fared within their own games. This comes from a diverse schedule cutting across central teams in the Big Ten, Mountain West, Big 12, SEC, Mid-American, and Sun Belt.
  • Baylor has one of the least informative schedules so far. While they have played one game in Conference USA (Rice) and one game in the American Athletic (SMU) neither team they played is a central role in their respective conferences. In fact, there have been no games played between the Big 12 and ACC so far.